By Stanley Campbell
Besides the extremely wonderful warm weather (a friend suggests that if this is global warming, “Bring it on!”), the Christian holy day of Easter arrives early to our calendar, April 8.
Rome figured Easter should be celebrated on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox. I have no idea why. Maybe to confound the heathens. Maybe the early church fathers wished to keep the observance of Easter in correlation to the Jewish Passover. Because the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ happened after Passover, Easter was to be celebrated subsequent to the Passover. And, since the Jewish holiday calendar is based on solar and lunar cycles, each feast day is movable, with dates shifting from year to year.
Please allow me to share these thoughts with you again.
The story of Easter begins with Good Friday, when Jesus was “strung up” by the authorities. They did not like Jesus’ preachings on peace and poverty. He was a troublemaker and had to be silenced. But evil cannot conquer good, thank God!
On Good Friday, Rockford Urban Ministries (for which I work) sponsors the Walk for Justice, which commemorates the crucifixion by dragging a heavy wooden cross through the city.
The walk starts at 9 a.m. at Emmanuel Episcopal Church, 412 N. Church St., and visits 14 “stations,” where we stop and say a prayer. In the Catholic tradition, it is called the Stations of the Cross.
Our Walk begins at Shelter Care Ministries, 412 N. Church St., where people suffering from mental handicaps go to share a bowl of soup and some loving care. After a short reading, we pick up our 10-foot, 75-pound wooden cross and progress over to the bus station, where we say a prayer for more mass transit in the city (walking does that to people — turns them into liberals).
After this station, it’s a quick hike to Janet Wattles, which serves the mental health of the community. We’ll remember our friend, and their former director, Frank Ware. The fourth station, the jail, we pray the county puts more money into rehabilitation than it puts into steel and concrete.
At the Federal Building, we say prayers for immigrants and to stop wars. Impossible prayers. Then, a step across to the Public Safety Building, where we pray for justice and the police. A long walk to the “Zeke Giorgi” Building, where we ask Illinois “not gamble with its citizens.” We say a prayer at the Rock River, the News Tower, and stop on the bridge to pray for a less divided city.
The 11th station is behind Luther Center, and the 12th, which commemorates Jesus’ dying on the cross, we find ourselves in front of the Veterans Statue. All the soldiers look like they are giving the peace sign. (I asked sculptor Gene Horvath about that. He just smiled slyly.) We say prayers for soldiers placed in harm’s way. This is, for me, the most moving station. I’m a Vietnam veteran and pray for peace (please, God, no more stupid wars).
Then, to the Rockford Public Library, where we pray for staff and customers. Finally, we end at Beattie Park, a Rockford sacred site: the Native American Indian mounds.
Join us and enjoy the walk and prayers, rain or shine. Easter is a good time to reflect on one’s life, seek forgiveness, reconciliation, and to prepare oneself for the ultimate that life has to offer, which is our death. May we see a resurrection.
Stanley Campbell is executive director of Rockford Urban Ministries and spokesman for Rockford Peace & Justice.
From the March 21-27, 2012, issue