Walking, biking or driving through twelve Stations of the Cross on Good Friday, April 15, residents of Yarrow, B.C., experienced the story of Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection together through interactive and creative artwork.
The four churches of the small town, including Yarrow United Mennonite Church, cooperated in creating the experience, a Yarrow Holy Week tradition for the past decade. In past years, the stations were primarily indoors, but they moved to outdoor locations starting with the COVID-19 pandemic two years ago. This proved to be a success in the community, as many new people participated because they didn’t have to enter a church building. Emphasis was on interaction with the displays, which were designed to be friendly for all ages.
Said Amy Klassen of Yarrow Mennonite Brethren Church, the primary planner of the displays: “Each station has a theme, a key scripture and a question to ponder. Aside from that, we deliberately choose ways to engage the senses at the various stations: sight, smell, touch, voices. I strongly believe this helps us to remember.”
A transformed vegetable stand at Station 2 became a sanctuary to God becoming flesh. Interactions there included a wooden cross puzzle specially designed for the event and a recording of children talking about questions they would ask Jesus if they could.
The ancient Japanese pottery technique of kintsugi, in which broken pottery pieces are put back together again into wholeness, illustrated Mary’s anointing of Jesus at Station 3. Participants could dab a cotton swab with perfume and take it with them as a reminder of Mary’s gift to Jesus.
At Station 4, Judas’s betrayal of Jesus, viewers faced this question: “What will you give me?” Real apples hung from a tree with pictures of some modern temptations—a new car, beautiful home, money—forcing people to think about what they might value more than their relationship with Christ. Two bowls, one holding a pile of artificial coins and the other holding a heap of glass beads with crosses painted on them, encouraged people to run their fingers through the contents and ask, “Which will I choose?”
Participants were invited to take a living branch at one station and weave it through a rope trellis, thinking about the contributions they could make to God’s kingdom. At the station hosted by Yarrow United Mennonite, illustrating the Last Supper, a newsprint mural of Jesus breaking bread was filled with portraits of children who had drawn themselves sitting at the table with Jesus.
Near the end of the walk was a depiction of the tomb, not an enclosed tomb but a wooden framework with a white sheet with scripture and questions about hope written inside. Participants walked through the tunnel with the ability to walk out the other end, thinking about causes for hope in the world as they pondered Jesus’ words.
“One of the highlights for me was seeing families walking together and being able to interact with the Easter story,” said Klassen. “As well, people have the opportunity to meet friends, say ‘hello’ and slow down the pace of life.”
Yarrow resident Barbara Nickel, a member of Emmanuel Mennonite in Abbotsford, said she found the whole experience inspiring and she especially appreciated the participation of children at each station.
“My husband and son and I rode our bikes around Yarrow on Good Friday and experienced the abundant, creative, moving and thought-provoking stations of the Easter Story Walk,” she said. “I loved the spirit of community fostered by running into neighbours and friends along the way and experiencing the Easter story together.
“The local Mighty Moose Ice Cream stand [closed for the season] was the station for the crucifixion. I wrote my confession on a slip of paper and hammered it to a large cross that was leaning against a picnic table. Dozens of confessions already fluttered under nails in the breeze. The walk offered so many ways to express and ponder faith in very tangible ways you could hear and see and even smell. I appreciated so much the involvement of children in every single station.”
Do you have a story idea about Mennonites in B.C.? Send it to Amy Rinner Waddell at firstname.lastname@example.org.