A Rose of Calvary on the Road to Golgotha

We are nearing the time for our trip to Calvary. Calvary, also known as Golgotha, is the place where Jesus was executed. Tradition holds that the actual site is now inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. This is a very popular tourist destination. But we are not literally going to fly to Calvary. Our trip is by story as we come closer to Easter.

The Bible says that Jesus was crucified outside the walls of Jerusalem at Golgotha, Aramaic for “the place of the skull.” Calvary is derived from the Latin, Calvaria, meaning “skull.” This penultimate event in the gospel journey is the one of the most uncomfortable parts of holy week.

Each year we Christians retrace Jesus’ steps between Palm Sunday and Easter. Holy Week gives us a chance to relive the triumphal entry into Jerusalem through the discovery of the empty tomb and resurrected Christ. The first and last stops on this spiritual pilgrimage are full of hope and life. But in order to go from the first celebration to the last one must pass through the arrest, torture and death of Jesus. This is a not a nice story.

Between the repetitions of hearing these stories each year and the painful events it is sometimes difficult to remain focused and to let the stories work their way into our psyches where they may illuminate our own spiritual stumbling. We preachers search for new illustrations each year to revive the old stories. Fortunately, there are other ways to tell the story.

One of the best methods to really experience an old story is through music. And this year our choir is going to take us through holy week. This Sunday, Palm Sunday, the choir will present a cantata, “The Rose of Calvary.” Last year they did a few selections from the work, but this year they plan to sing the entire piece. It is a very powerful rendition of Jesus’ journey to the cross and his resurrection. I am looking forward to their presentation.

This is a difficult undertaking for our choir and their director David Broome. It has required special rehearsals and a real effort from each member to make it work. Listening in on their rehearsals I know they are doing a great job. I want to thank them in advance for making such an effort so that the trip to Calvary may come alive for us this year. I hope you will join us in worship to hear this powerful music.

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