Down the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem that day…the soldiers tried to clear the narrow street…but the crowd pressed into see…a man condemned to die on Calvary.
The Via Dolorosa is a processional walk in Jerusalem that is thought to be the path that Jesus walked on his way to be crucified. It is translated "way of suffering" and "sorrowful way".
There is a musical depiction of that walk by the same name…Via Dolorosa. Even though I have played Via Dolorosa on the piano on Good Friday almost every year since high school, it is never mechanical notes that I am playing. My interpretation and experience of playing it has evolved and deepened over time. What do I mean?
Each Good Friday, I remember the words of the Apostle Paul from Galatians, "I am crucified with Christ therefore I no longer live..." On Good Friday we remember Jesus' sacrifice, but we also remember that we too are crucified with Christ. So I reflect deeply on the past year...and I pour out all the "worst of times" stuff into every note of the piece so that pain and loss is embedded in the music deep inside the notes.
It’s not that my life is painful overall. It really isn’t. As I am sure you can relate, the worst of times stuff can be brutal, but the best of times stuff far outweighs it. Even so, the worst of times stuff doesn't go away and cannot be ignored or wished away. My parents call the worst of times stuff "scorch marks". Every scorch mark I have experienced is embedded in my interpretation of Via Dolorosa. So when I play the Via Dolorosa from one Good Friday to the next, layers of my brokenness, deep disappointments, losses, sins, and secret pains are woven into the past worst of times layers already embedded in my interpretation of the piece.
Don’t misunderstand…Good Friday isn't a time for us to try to feel as sad as possible. It also isn't a time to start wishing people "Happy Easter" as if Good Friday and Holy Saturday don't exist. It is a time to deeply remember the cross, to take stock of the past year, come face to face with the losses, stop denying the pains, admit sin patterns...and nail all of that worst of times stuff to the cross. That doesn't mean the pain goes away or that you won't struggle with sin anymore...each Good Friday my past worst of times stuff is still in my interpretation of Via Dolorosa somewhere...it may just be an ache or a scar or a distant memory...but it is in there somewhere. To reflect on the past year and to pour all the worst of times stuff out on the cross is what it means to deeply survey the wondrous cross on which the prince of glory died.
Down the Via Dolorosa called the way of suffering…like a lamb came the Messiah Christ the King…but he chose to walk that road out of his love for you and me. Down the Via Dolorosa all the way…to Calvary.
Tonight at 6:00pm we will worship together and observe Good Friday here at www.reachchurch.online and on our Facebook page.
Until then, please use this video from 2019 of my rendition of the Via Dolorosa as a tool to prepare your heart to remember Jesus' sacrifice: