Christians will recreate Jesus’ trial in front of the Gonzaga University Law School this afternoon, praying that today’s law students become attorneys and judges who seek the truth.
This will be the first in a series of observances at sites throughout Spokane during Lent, which started Wednesday.
“The idea is not to make a political statement, but to say that in some sense Jesus is in all of these places,” says Mike Leiserson, a Gonzaga political science professor and a member of the Lenten Friday Remembrance Guild.
The guild will observe the 14 Stations of the Cross, a Roman Catholic tradition dating back to the Middle Ages that recreates the trial, crucifixion and death of Jesus.
The guild is ecumenical, and it includes Roman Catholics, Episcopalians, Methodists, Presbyterians and Lutherans.
Organizers believe that in a time of violence and fear, the public sorely needs to be reminded of God’s presence in the world.
“Christ’s message has become sort of lost,” says Ron Frase, a retired Presbyterian minister and a Whitworth College professor. “We’re in it for ourselves and we’ve lost a sense of the common good.”
At 4 p.m. today the guild will present the first two stations at the law school’s Sharp Avenue entrance. Participants will remember Jesus’ trial before the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, who did not believe in searching for the truth.
“Truth can and does appear in the world and can force people to judge themselves by their response,” Leiserson says.
He believes Americans in the past were more committed to Christian principles, which helped guide public life.
“I personally feel one reason we didn’t blow up the world during the Cold War is that people like Eisenhower, Truman and Kennedy were very religious people,” says Leiserson. “They were raised religiously and they had a sense of stewardship in God’s creation.”
Watergate marked a new era, he says, when personal ambition and greed were unchecked by religious values.
“More and more of those kinds of people are growing up and taking the power positions in the world,” Leiserson says. “We need to open up a space where who knows? A miracle might happen.”
On March 1, the third and fourth stations will be presented at 4 p.m. at the Pastoral Center of the Catholic Diocese of Spokane, 1023 W. Riverside.
On March 22, when the prayers will focus on vulnerability, violence and cruelty, the location will be the Women’s Drop-In Center, 218 S. Howard.
Additional sites will be announced. On Good Friday, April 5, all 14 stations will be presented in Riverfront Park. Local gang members will help organize stations on involuntary service and compassion that day.
“What Christian faith entails is not building walls, but embracing gang members and those whose desperation brings them to violence,” says Tom Westbrook, a member of St. Ann’s Catholic Church.
“For all this talk about values, I think it’s important to be reminded of what Jesus’ values were,” he says.