Ecological Stations of the Cross: #2 – The Cross and Deforestation

Ecological Stations of the Cross: #2 – The Cross and Deforestation April 3, 2023

In this second installment of the Ecological Stations of the Cross, we connect Jesus’s death on the cross to death due to deforestation.

Land with cut trees
Deforestation. Photo by Dylan Leagh on Pexels.

This resource is part of the EcoPreacher 1-2-3 series that helps preachers and congregations address environmental issues in their sermons and ministry.  The Ecological Stations of the Cross is made possible through support from the Interfaith Center of Sustainable Development with editing assistance from Rabbi Yonatan Neril. 

This resource can be used for a single worship experience during Holy Week such as Good Friday or Saturday Vigil.  Or you can use these reflections for personal devotions during each day of Holy Week.  There are seven in all which I’ll be publishing each day of this week.  You can access all the reflections as a full booklet here.

Scripture: John 19:16-17

16Then he handed him over to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus; 17and carrying the cross by himself, he went out to what is called The Place of the Skull, which in Hebrew is called Golgotha.

Reflection on the cross and deforestation

The cross used for crucifixion is made up of two heavy pieces of wood – the crossbar, called the patibulum, and the pole, called a stipes. Consider that these were once huge, majestic, life-giving trees.  Once cut down, these trees become an instrument of torture and death. In the Gospels, Jesus was made to carry his own cross to the place where he was lashed and nailed to the felled trees. Hanging from the cross, his lungs suffocated under his own weight until he died.

According to, “Every hour, forests the size of 300 football fields are cut down. By the year 2030, the planet might have only 10% of its forests; if deforestation isn’t stopped, they could all be gone in less than 100 years.” The forests are like the lungs of the Earth, inhaling and sequestering carbon dioxide while exhaling life-giving oxygen. As we strip away the forests, we are slowly suffocating ourselves and the planet.  When the trees die, all those who depend on them will also die.

Prayer for reforestation

Spirit of breath and life, renew the face of the Earth with a resurgence of trees.  Breathe through communities with fresh efforts to protect existing forests while planting trees where they are most needed.

Spirit in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Read also:

Ecological Stations of the Cross: #1 – Condemned to death

Ecological Stations of the Cross, 2023

Today I Saved a Mile of Forest: Vegan Challenge Devotional, Day 2

Leah D. Schade with book, Rooted and Rising

The Rev. Dr. Leah D. Schade is the Associate Professor of Preaching and Worship at Lexington Theological Seminary in Kentucky and ordained in the ELCA. Dr. Schade does not speak for LTS or the ELCA; her opinions are her own.  She is the author of Preaching in the Purple Zone: Ministry in the Red-Blue Divide (Rowman & Littlefield, 2019) and Creation-Crisis Preaching: Ecology, Theology, and the Pulpit (Chalice Press, 2015). She is the co-editor of Rooted and Rising: Voices of Courage in a Time of Climate Crisis (Rowman & Littlefield, 2019). Her newest book is Introduction to Preaching: Scripture, Theology, and Sermon Preparation, co-authored with Jerry L. Sumney and Emily Askew (Rowman & Littlefield, 2023).

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