Station 7 – Jesus falls for the second time

Talking to Otherselves   

When I hear “assimilation” I think about futility and cybernetic implants, but my father is the great-great grandson of German immigrants and a Star Trek fan, so I’ve never had to consider it culturally.

In thinking about Jesus falling the second time, I meditated on no one helping him carry the cross. I thought about him as a Jew living under Imperial Rome and what his people had to pass for citizenship.

Assimilation is the second step in the immigrant’s journey. It can be falling more into the American ideal, or falling into place. It demands an obedience to be more “American,” whatever that means.

I found people wrestle with being “hyphenated Americans,” adding to America while not being some vague notion of “American”. I found immigrants wrenched from their languages, the expressions of their souls.

I wonder what the oath of naturalization would sound like if everyone taking it did so in a tongue natural to them. I suspect it would sound a quiet mess, but come to a stronger order. I think it would sound like the pentecost.

Brandon L. Sichling
Grace Commons

This is the second incidence of Jesus falling, as held by the tradition of the church. No specific scripture refers to this.


Station 8 – Jesus comforts the women of Jerusalem

Comforts the Women

Can you hear the women weeping?  Can you see the families fleeing?  Can you feel the pain of the children whose dreams have been interrupted?

When we allow such laws as Arizonia’s SB 1070, or Alabama’s HB 56 to pass we can hear the women weeping.
Women are afraid to send their children to school,
Women are afraid to get prenatal care,
Women are afraid to take their children to the doctor,
Women are afraid to seek help for domestic abuse.

Can you hear the women weeping?   Not everyone can, not everyone cares, but Jesus can hear the weeping, and Jesus cares.   Jesus comforts the women, men and children.

I hear the weeping when I walk the streets freely
I hear the weeping in my sleep
I hear the weeping when I close my eyes in prayer
I hear the weeping when I watch the news, and read the headlines about another hateful law passed.

How can we become informed citizens that are moved to action? 

How can we join in solidarity with immigrant families that are being singled out and abused by these unjust and violent laws? 

Will you help to bring comfort to the women or will you wait for someone else to do it?


Andrea Kirksey
First United Church of Oak Park
Collage on canvas board

Scripture related to this station is included in the comments of this post.

Station 9 – Jesus falls for the third time

(click on images to enlarge them)

Dreams, Interrupted

We are the junior high Sunday school class from First United Church of Oak Park and we looked at immigration through the lens of the Dream Act.

By reading the life stories of four different young adults, we learned about their families, their countries of origin, their struggles and accomplishments.   All of them would be candidates for the Dream Act.

As we imagine going into high school soon, it is eye opening to think that someone we might graduate with could be affected. All that hard work and determination might mean nothing. That is sad.

Their fears of deportation keep them from enjoying many of the things that we take for granted, driving a car, traveling, spending time with friends, and being able to tell the truth about who they are. Their forced silence and having to live in the shadows is upsetting. Makes us sad and angry.

7th & 8th Grade Sunday School Class
First United Church, Oak Park


With leaders Walter and Andrea,
And assistance from Monica J. Brown

Scripture associated with Jesus drawing near the end of his journey is found in the comments on this post.

Station 10 – Jesus is stripped

The Cross of God’s “Kindom*”

Growing up as an undocumented immigrant in a predominantly white neighborhood, I felt trapped and privileged at the same time.  Trapped because I would always be underpaid under the table for all my overtime and overwork.

Yet, privileged because I was part of the world that was rich and powerful. Now I understand that my sense of privilege was as false as the true reality of my entrapment; there was a great divide I could never conquer as long as I was a poor undocumented immigrant.

Indeed, our true privilege lies in the cross as does our true sense of suffering and passion.  It is through the reality of the cross we are privileged to bring about the “kindom*” of God into the world of xenophobia and exploitation of vulnerable immigrants.  When all the strands of our lives are etched together, and we fight for justice along with the voiceless immigrants, we create God’s golden kindom* of justice and love.  These vibrant strands already exist in the reality of the immigrants; how we bring it out and about is our responsibility as well as the transforming work of the Holy Spirit in the world.

The left side of the purple cross is bleak and bound.  Just as the soldiers had cast lots for Jesus’ clothes as he was dying on the cross, the unjust world prospers on the bare backs of those who suffer and sacrifice such as our immigrants who are overworked and underpaid.  However, we dream of God’s kindom* where the cross is glorified as a symbol that brings together people of all classes and color.  Herein lies our true privilege—the privilege to live as just and loving people of God.

Are we involved in the process of transforming the cross of suffering and exploitation into the cross of privilege and justice in the “kindom”* of God?

* A term that defines God’s reign by kinship ties (i.e. relationship of all humans as being kin) rather than an imperial rule.

Angela Ryo
Interfaith Worker Justice
Satin and silk ribbons on homemade paper on black foam board

Scripture related to this station is found in the comments of this post.

Station 11 – Jesus is nailed to the cross


Unwilling immigrant:
How many at the bottom of the sea
refusing to go to the other side?

How many marching forward
with contemplative steps;
Searching for the warmth of other suns?

Monica J. Brown
Grace Commons
16 ¾” x 13 ½”
Collage on canvas board

Scripture related to this station is in the comments of this post.

Diving into the Wreck by Adrienne Rich

First having read the book of myths,
and loaded the camera,
and checked the edge of the knife-blade,
I put on
the body-armor of black rubber
the absurd flippers
the grave and awkward mask.
I am having to do this
not like Cousteau with his
assiduous team
aboard the sun-flooded schooner
but here alone.

There is a ladder.
The ladder is always there
hanging innocently
close to the side of the schooner.
We know what it is for,
we who have used it.
it is a piece of maritime floss
some sundry equipment.

I go down.
Rung after rung and still
the oxygen immerses me
the blue light
the clear atoms
of our human air.
I go down.
My flippers cripple me,
I crawl like an insect down the ladder
and there is no one
to tell me when the ocean
will begin.

First the air is blue and then
it is bluer and then green and then
black I am blacking out and yet
my mask is powerful
it pumps my blood with power
the sea is another story
the sea is not a question of power
I have to learn alone
to turn my body without force
in the deep element.

And now: it is easy to forget
what I came for
among so many who have always
lived here
swaying their crenellated fans
between the reefs
and besides
you breathe differently down here.

I came to explore the wreck.
The words are purposes.
The words are maps.
I came to see the damage that was done
and the treasures that prevail.
I stroke the beam of my lamp
slowly along the flank
of something more permanent
than fish or weed

the thing I came for:
the wreck and not the story of the wreck
the thing itself and not the myth
the drowned face always staring
toward the sun
the evidence of damage
worn by salt and sway into this threadbare beauty
the ribs of the disaster
curving their assertion
among the tentative haunters.

This is the place.
And I am here, the mermaid whose dark hair
streams black, the merman in his armored body.
We circle silently
about the wreck
we dive into the hold.
I am she: I am he

whose drowned face sleeps with open eyes
whose breasts still bear the stress
whose silver, copper, vermeil cargo lies
obscurely inside barrels
half-wedged and left to rot
we are the half-destroyed instruments
that once held to a course
the water-eaten log
the fouled compass

We are, I am, you are
by cowardice or courage
the one who find our way
back to this scene
carrying a knife, a camera
a book of myths
in which
our names do not appear.

Station 12 – Jesus dies

(Click on images to enlarge)

Swimming against the flow

As a queer Puerto Rican migrant—in the United States, Master of Divinity Student of McCormick Theological Seminary, fine artist, fine artist professor, art director for advertising, part of a fourth generation of Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) ministerial family, living in the exile struggling with other language, other culture—it is a very intense way to understand the mystery of the cross.

To be here for me is a very hard decision. It has required from me a redesign of my life, also a deep understanding of the call that I have from God and the reasons to decide to leave my country and come here to earn a theological education and see other fields to develop the ministry.

I decided to participate in this project first of all because I am an artist and a theological student. I felt a conviction to enter in a theological conversation around the experience that I carry in my suitcase and the process of the cross for Jesus Christ and how that process has related to me as an immigrant. I chose charcoal to develop this project because it fit better to the concept of the cross, lent and the connection between us. The ashes are a strong symbol in our experience as Christians. And charcoal is also my favorite art medium.

What for me is in the cross? How do I feel this new crucifixion process relates to me and to others who have passed this situation? How can I connect with people who have to go out of their countries to find a “safe” space to develop our lives in the pastoral ministry?

The migrant situation is a fragmented process. The struggle of dealing with this situation is a constant redesigning process, and everyone who experiences this process has different ways to address themselves to this condition.

Reflecting a fragmented understanding of the immigrant I decided to use a polyptych (various pieces joined together by a theme or divided by sections). Each piece is related with the areas that I identified I am struggling with: food, language, theological positions, identity, and response to the call of the cross.

To approach the mystery of the cross in my case, is a constant contingency process. I find in this way that to respond to the claims of the cross is challenging me. I have to hang on the cross some issues that I have to figure out.

We have to be conscious about our calvaries (our greatest sufferings) in order to let them die and hope for resurrection of a new life. We have some calvaries that we have to leave at the cross in order to get beyond those issues and trust in the reason that Jesus died on the cross. So I left my calvaries at the foot of the cross of Jesus in the conviction that he takes all our charges, all that we have been guilty of, and carries that burden for us in the cross of Calvary.

What are your calvaries?  Are you able to identify them in relation with your spiritual life? How are you dealing with them?

Have you the capacity to trust in the power of the cross and leave your charges and calvaries at the bottom of the cross?

Even when other forces, other powers, are pushing us back, God, Jesus, and the cross make it possible for us to swim forward as the salmon swim against the flow with trust.

Sergio D. Centeno
McCormick Theological Seminary
Charcoal , graphite and water on paper.  35” x 5”

Scripture related to this station is in the comments of this post.

Station 13 – Jesus is taken down from the cross and laid in his mother’s arms

What are the obstacles in the path of justice? 

The genesis of this image came from contemplating some stories my lawyer wife told about doing pro bono work at a border detention facility in Texas.

She was among a group of lawyers who were tasked to interview unaccompanied minors who had been detained by border control to determine if the children had been abused while in custody.

They spoke with children in their early teens that related stories of unimaginable horror about their desperate and dangerous journeys to the U.S.

The central figures in the piece are based on Michelangelo’s Pieta, which is the most iconic image of the lamentation over the dead Christ. I was thinking how closely the life of Jesus parallels the lives of these detainees.

Like the detainees, Jesus was poor, unemployed, nomadic, a minority, and at some point would have been considered an “illegal alien.”

Tim Vermeulen
Grace Commons
Oil on panel

Scripture related to this station is included in the comments of this post.