As a child I heard about the Passion Play in Oberamergau. I said that when I grew up I was going to go see it, but so far that hasn’t happened. The next best thing was to write and direct my own production at San Jose Bible College in 1971.
We did our presentation over three sessions – Thursday night, Friday night and Sunday morning (while traditional “Passions” end with the crucifixion or entombment I felt the resurrection to be absolutely necessary) - each one encompassing the gospel events connected with those particular days so as to give it a sense of “You Were There”. It was very effective, especially the torch lit procession of both the cast and the audience from the scene of Pilate’s judgment hall to the site of the crucifixion where we used full size crosses made out of real wood. Some things, however, didn’t go according to plan.
I had wanted to present the garden scene as a very moving time. The audience saw the bragging of the disciples who would undergo anything for Jesus, their puzzlement over what was taking place and their lack of endurance in falling asleep though Jesus had asked them to watch and pray. We showed all three times when they tried, but failed, to continue in prayer. Since I played the apostle John I was on stage and couldn’t understand why people started laughing every time we fell asleep. What was intended as a moment of grand tragedy was being taken for comic relief. The audience saw it for what it really was, a failed attempt to do it ourselves.
Like the disciples, our own efforts don’t put us over the top. But our failing is not the end of the story. God brings righteousness to the darkest sins through Jesus. All we can ever do, then, is to give thanks.
4 years ago