Parish passion play evokes a profound responsePosted: March 30, 2010
For me, the first performance proved to be, by far, the most challenging. Yet, despite having completely forgotten two lines of my opening speech and taking the theatrical concept of ‘ad-libbing’ to a whole new level during the last supper scene – many people in the congregation appeared not to notice the miscues and if they did, it didn’t seem to matter.
Following the liturgy, an elderly woman still in tears with voice trembling described the impact our drama had on both her and her husband. Another middle-aged gentlemen praised the performance, while still another indicated that his young daughter was quite distraught and convinced that I was Jesus and had indeed died on the cross.
Someone else involved in the drama astutely observed that the story of Jesus’ betrayal, death and impending Resurrection ‘never gets old’ – especially when different people take on the role of Jesus year after year. Each person brings a very different perspective, personality and unique approach and interpretation to the role.
During the opening song, Prepare Ye The Way of the Lord, as I walked down the center aisle of the church with my apostles, I waved and smiled at as many parishioners as possible. The reactions on those faces I was able to engage ranged from warm reciprocal smiles, to stone-faced indifference and awkward confused ‘get me outta here’ looks. I couldn’t help but imagine that, in many respects, Jesus may likely have faced a similar array of reactions during his triumphant procession into Jerusalem over two thousands years ago.
To be a part of such a powerful, redemptive story (the central story of Christianity) in such a public way – is a holy gift of grace. To be able to perform it with your family and friends, not once but three times before a captive community of believers – is truly a blessing and sacred memory which I will forever treasure.
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