The dramatic portrayal of the historical events leading up to Christ’s crucifixion are referred to as the Passion.
For centuries during Holy Week, Passion Plays such as the ones in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, and in Oberammergau, Germany, have been performed around the world using Bible era costumes and settings.
A few years ago, on Palm Sunday, the Fox network aired a live musical Passion Play in the modern day city of New Orleans, using contemporary costumes and pop music. Tyler Perry provided narration to bridge the musical numbers and to explain, in simple terms, the series of events being portrayed.
I watched this program with my family. For some of us, the use of the pop music with its secular lyrics was jarring. We felt it trivialized this precious story from history.
A lively discussion followed the show and my daughter-in-law, an ordained minister, pointed out that this production wasn’t meant for Christians already steeped in the truth and meaning of these events. The program was aimed at a culture unfamiliar with Christ and the Bible. It was a palatable introduction which hoped to become a gateway to the truth. Newly born-again Christians are nourished on the milk of the Gospel before they are ready to digest more mature fare.
This contemporary Passion story which felt overly emotional and shallow to me, was meant for the non-believer, to be a sweet sample of what Christ has to offer.
In order to evangelize, or even to serve one another, we must meet people where they are, keying into the things they understand and are passionate about.
Although this production of the Passion story didn’t speak to me, it wasn’t trying to. The faces on the live crowds in New Orleans showed how very well it spoke to them.