First “Way of the Cross” by the Methodist Church opens in Garden of Remembrance
by Geraldine Tan // December 5, 2019, 1:00 pm
The "Way of the Cross" is the first permanent installation of its kind in the Protestant community. All photos courtesy of the Garden of Remembrance.
An installation of the Way of the Cross, a commemoration of the path Jesus walked to Calvary, has been created at the columbarium, Garden of Remembrance, by the Methodist Church in Singapore (MCS).
Spiritual reflection as believers retrace the steps of Jesus, past 14 significant stations along the Way, has long been associated with the Catholic faith. This is the first time that the Protestant Church in Singapore has undertaken a Way of the Cross installation.
Way of the Cross depictions are traditionally based on the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem, believed to be the actual path that Jesus walked towards Calvary.
“The end destination of the Way of the Cross is not the grave, it is the resurrection. It is not despair, it is glory and hope.”
Reverend Dr Chong Chin Chung, 64, the Bishop of the Methodist Church in Singapore (MCS), dedicated the permanent installation on November 2.
Rev Dr Chong, speaking in Mandarin, said the installation was inspired by the question: “Why is it that we only remember Christ’s ultimate sacrifice for us during Christmas, Lent and Easter?
“We have named this installation the ‘Way of the Cross’, not the ‘Way of Sorrows’, because it is not just the path that Jesus took, it is also a path that you and I need to walk.
“We are on this journey together with the Lord. Tough as it is for us, it cannot compare with the pain that Jesus had to endure.
“Despite that, we also remember that Jesus’ way to the cross is also a glorious one. The end destination is not the grave, it is the resurrection. It is not despair, it is glory and hope.”
Beauty of the Cross
The installation consists of 14 stations of Christian devotion, 13 of which commemorate Jesus Christ’s last day on earth as a man, and the last station depicting His resurrection three days later.
The final station “isn’t an image of Christ on the Cross, but one of Him being resurrected and alive – an image of him exiting the tomb”, said Rev Dr Chong.
The installation, which took a year to complete, is stretched across a 60-metre long corridor.
Unlike the Stations of the Cross found in many other installations which use liturgical text by way of explanation, the new Way of the Cross employs the power of storytelling.
Each stop features a hand-made sculpture by a Belgian artist, accompanied by a plaque that tells the story of the station.
Written in English and Chinese, the stories describe the significance of the scene and its accompanying Bible verse.
Reverend Dr Niam Kai Huey, the pastor-in-charge of Sengkang Methodist Church, wrote the text, transporting sojourners back to the day of Calvary.
Wendy Heng, 50, the general manager of the columbarium, said: “We’ve decided to tell the story in as layman terms as possible so as to make it accessible to non-Christians too. We hope that this will encourage them to walk through the 14 stations and that it will make them curious about who Christ is and why He had to die on the Cross for us.
“The Way of the Cross is a stark reminder of the humble manner in which Jesus was willing to set aside any privilege He had as the Son of God, in order to provide a path to salvation through His sacrifice.”
Triumph over death
“I encourage everyone to come to the Garden of Remembrance, not just to remember your loved ones, but also to remind ourselves that we must walk with Jesus in this way of the cross in our daily lives, to share in His suffering and also in His victory over suffering,” said Rev Dr Chong.
The location of the installation, within the serene grounds of the columbarium located along Old Choa Chu Kang Road, was chosen as a venue for the installation because “we’re commemorating the most important and significant death of all — that of our Lord Jesus Christ,” explained Heng.
Rev Dr Chong added: “It is very meaningful for us to put the Way of the Cross on these premises as here lies the ashes of the saints who have gone before us. They have lived through difficult days but they persevered till the end. They, too, have walked the way of the Cross during their time on earth.”