2021 Downtown Eastside Way of the Cross

Every year for the last 34 or 35 years Christians have gathered in our community for a Way of the Cross walk, stopping at locations of struggle and of hope, to reflect on the journey of Jesus to the cross. This year, again, only a couple of us will gather, suitably distanced apart, for an abbreviated version of the walk.

We offer you 3 options to participate with us:

Join us at First United Church at 12:15 on Good Friday – April 02, 2021

Print out the readings and prayers here and take a walk through the neighbourhood on your own.

The locations are:

  1. First United Church 320 E. Hastings St.
  2. Intersection of Main St. & E. Hastings St.
  3. Bruce Eriksen Place 380 Main St.
  4. Intersection of E. Cordova St. & Gore Ave.
  5. Oppenheimer Park Totem

Spend time here online with the text and photos of the locations:

DTES Way of the Cross meditation – text by Murray Pruden

The Passion Story and Prayer (John 18:1- 19:42)John 18 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)


First United Church

The Betrayal and Arrest of Jesus

18 After Jesus had spoken these words, he went out with his disciples across the Kidron valley to a place where there was a garden, which he and his disciples entered. 2 Now Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place, because Jesus often met there with his disciples. 3 So Judas brought a detachment of soldiers together with police from the chief priests and the Pharisees, and they came there with lanterns and torches and weapons. 4 Then Jesus, knowing all that was to happen to him, came forward and asked them, “Whom are you looking for?” 5 They answered, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus replied, “I am he.” Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. 6 When Jesus said to them, “I am he,” they stepped back and fell to the ground. 7 Again he asked them, “Whom are you looking for?” And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.” 8 Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. So if you are looking for me, let these men go.” 9 This was to fulfill the word that he had spoken, “I did not lose a single one of those whom you gave me.” 10 Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it, struck the high priest’s slave, and cut off his right ear. The slave’s name was Malchus. 11 Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword back into its sheath. Am I not to drink the cup that the Father has given me?”



As we start this path with Jesus, give us the moments to reflect within and around us.  Allow us to make sense of those moments of what was, is and to become.  Guide us as we go together with you and others on this Passion that we tell every Good Friday.  A reminder that without darkness, we cannot see the light, that without the seed a tree will not grow.  Allow us the  strength to overcome.

As we reflect on the betrayal of Jesus, we search that betrayal we may have lived in our lives as well.  We pause and take the time to remember, search, breathe and then let go… “Put your sword back into its sheath. Am I not to drink the cup that the Father has given me?”. Give us the ability to let go as Jesus has asked us to. Amen.


Main & Hastings

Peter Denies Jesus Again

25 Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. They asked him, “You are not also one of his disciples, are you?” He denied it and said, “I am not.” 26 One of the slaves of the high priest, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, “Did I not see you in the garden with him?” 27 Again Peter denied it, and at that moment the cock crowed.


Great Spirit,

There are times when we deny ourselves the truth.  As Peter in the Passion story denies his relationship with Jesus, we too have denied, at times in our lives, our relationship with you Great Spirit. Forgive us.  Simply forgive us for denying this relationship with the Spirit.  We are your children, we are learning, and we will grow from our mistakes, from our shame, from our lack of confidence to be the loving creations that you made us to truly be. Courage dear Great Spirit.  Let this blessing rain upon us all. Amen


Bruce Eriksen Place

Jesus Sentenced to Death

After he had said this, he went out to the Jews again and told them, “I find no case against him. 39 But you have a custom that I release someone for you at the Passover. Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?” 40 They shouted in reply, “Not this man, but Barabbas!” Now Barabbas was a bandit.

19 Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. 2 And the soldiers wove a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and they dressed him in a purple robe. 3 They kept coming up to him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and striking him on the face. 4 Pilate went out again and said to them, “Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no case against him.” 5 So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, “Here is the man!” 6 When the chief priests and the police saw him, they shouted, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and crucify him; I find no case against him.” 7 The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die because he has claimed to be the Son of God.”

8 Now when Pilate heard this, he was more afraid than ever. 9 He entered his headquarters again and asked Jesus, “Where are you from?” But Jesus gave him no answer. 10 Pilate therefore said to him, “Do you refuse to speak to me? Do you not know that I have power to release you, and power to crucify you?” 11 Jesus answered him, “You would have no power over me unless it had been given you from above; therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.” 12 From then on Pilate tried to release him, but the Jews cried out, “If you release this man, you are no friend of the emperor. Everyone who claims to be a king sets himself against the emperor.”

13 When Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus outside and sat on the judge’s bench at a place called The Stone Pavement, or in Hebrew Gabbatha. 14 Now it was the day of Preparation for the Passover; and it was about noon. He said to the Jews, “Here is your King!” 15 They cried out, “Away with him! Away with him! Crucify him!” Pilate asked them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but the emperor.” 16 Then he handed him over to them to be crucified.


Loving God,

Many times, we cry of the injustices of this world.  We get discouraged and frustrated from the harm we see around us.  And in many instances, we too are guilty of these injustices, sometimes without realizing it.  Calm our spirits from these patterns of behaviour and give us a renewed thought and sight to these injustices.  Place in our hands a new gift of life, a way of forgiveness, understanding and loving creation.  Allow us to be that encouragement and peace during times of harm and hate.  And together with our brothers and sisters in Spirit we can be the path to a creation to love one another, the commandment that Jesus left us. In loving companionship, Amen.


E. Cordova St & Gore Ave

The Crucifixion of Jesus

So, they took Jesus; 17 and carrying the cross by himself, he went out to what is called The Place of the Skull, which in Hebrew is called Golgotha. 18 There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, with Jesus between them. 19 Pilate also had an inscription written and put on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” 20 Many of the Jews read this inscription, because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, in Latin, and in Greek. 21 Then the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but, ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews.’” 22 Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.” 23 When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and divided them into four parts, one for each soldier. They also took his tunic; now the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from the top. 24 So they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see who will get it.” This was to fulfill what the scripture says,

“They divided my clothes among themselves, and for my clothing they cast lots.”

25 And that is what the soldiers did. Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, “Woman, here is your son.” 27 Then he said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.

28 After this, when Jesus knew that all was now finished, he said (in order to fulfill the scripture), “I am thirsty.” 29 A jar full of sour wine was standing there. So, they put a sponge full of the wine on a branch of hyssop and held it to his mouth. 30 When Jesus had received the wine, he said, “It is finished.” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.


Great Mystery,

Hear my prayer, from my heart and mind in silence, as I reflect on the crucifixion of Jesus. Allow the Holy Spirit to enter my temple as I remember the journey Jesus Christ has taken.  Let this be a moment for you Great Mystery, to guide me to what I need to receive in my life so that understand a little more of my path and your creation, your great mystery. (A Moment of Silence).

It is finished. Amen


Oppenheimer Park Totem

The Burial of Jesus

38 After these things, Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, though a secret one because of his fear of the Jews, asked Pilate to let him take away the body of Jesus. Pilate gave him permission; so, he came and removed his body. 39 Nicodemus, who had at first come to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, weighing about a hundred pounds. 40 They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it with the spices in linen cloths, according to the burial custom of the Jews. 41 Now there was a garden in the place where he was crucified, and in the garden, there was a new tomb in which no one had ever been laid. 42 And so, because it was the Jewish day of Preparation, and the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.


An Indian Prayer- by Chief Yellow Lark, Lakota Sioux

Oh, Great Spirit, 

Whose voice I hear in the winds, and whose breath gives life to all in the world. Hear me! I am small and weak; I need your strength and wisdom.

Let me walk in beauty, and make my eyes ever behold the red and purple sunset.

Make my hands respect the things you have made and ears sharp to hear your voice.

Make me wise so that I understand the things you have taught my people.

Let me learn the lessons you have hidden in every leaf and rock.

I seek strength, not to be greater than my brother, but to fight my greatest enemy- myself.

Make me always ready, to come to you with clean hands and straight eyes.

So, when life fades, as the fading sunset, my spirit may come to you without shame.


Holy One, listen to your people praying as we ask you send your Spirit to our places:

Jesus Christ, you traveled through towns and villages “curing every disease and illness.” At your command, the sick were made well. Come to our aid now, in the midst of the global spread of the coronavirus, that we may experience your healing love. 

Heal those who are sick with the virus. May they regain their strength and health through quality medical care. 

Heal us from our fear, which prevents nations from working together and neighbors from helping one another. 

Heal us from our pride, which can make us claim invulnerability to a disease that knows no borders. 

Jesus Christ, healer of all, stay by our side in this time of uncertainty and sorrow. 

Be with those who have died from the virus. May they be at rest with you in your eternal peace. 

Be with the families of those who are sick or have died. As they worry and grieve, defend them from illness and despair. May they know your peace. 

Be with the doctors, nurses, researchers and all medical professionals who seek to heal and help those affected and who put themselves at risk in the process. May they know your protection and peace and feel our support. 

And thinking of people at Central City Lodge and any other long-term care facility:

Be with those who care for and with us, as valued aids or assistants — as we worry about their fair working wages and safe working conditions and especially elsewhere where workers do not have union protections and rights.

Be with those who, as a whole, administer this Lodge and its sister places in the urban core as Cooper Place, and for a shareable future as well as now, in the midst of this virus threat.

Be with those whose cleaning duties help keep us safe and confident that we live in a mutually caring facility that indeed, we call our home, our lodge – and also with our extended family and circles of friends elsewhere that in this unusual and anxious time of separation that they too feel our prayerful inclusion of them even while being cut off from us.

Be with recreational staff and supporters, music therapists, and those behind the scenes whoe creativity and humour enrich communal life.

Be with any accompanying recovery programs and people as they address vicious addictions, that they too feel our concern and prayers for life beyond addiction.

Be with long-term care volunteers who are now cut off from visiting and offering gifts of time, fresh energy, and personal interest; may they, too, feel cared for.

Be with the leaders of all nations. Give them the foresight to act with charity and true concern for the well-being of the people they are meant to serve. Give them the wisdom to invest in long-term solutions that will help prepare for or prevent future outbreaks. May they know your peace, as they work together to achieve it on earth. 

Whether we are home or abroad, surrounded by many people suffering from this illness, only a few, or not yet anyone, Jesus Christ, stay with us as we endure and mourn, persist and prepare, and dare to hope. 

In place of our anxiety, give us your peace. 

But, right now, we need you to be with us; we need to feel your presence; we need to hear your Spirit calling to our spirits; we need to know that the darkness is not dark to you.

In faith, in hope, in longing, we offer our prayers.

We thus pray for the people who sit alone waiting for a phone call or an email or Facebook message or a wave from the neighbour across the street. 

May they not wait in vain.

 Lord listen to your people praying:

give us love, give us power, give us grace

Let is Be (Amen).

adapted from Kerry Weber, an executive editor of America and added to by: Barry Morris, United Church of Canada minister & a long-term care chaplain and Bruce Alexander, Social Psychology Professor Emeritus SFU.