You don’t have to travel across the continent of Europe in order to experience passion, especially in the Christian sense of the word. Passion Plays are beginning to spring up in the unlikeliest places – Port Talbot, Manchester, Auchtermuchty, and closer to home, Abingdon and Woodstock. A Passion Play dramatises the last week of Jesus’ life (although the Auchtermuchty Play dramatises the beginning of his life). The plays are dramatic portrayals of the greatest story ever told. This form of proclaiming the gospel is a powerful missionary tool. The backdrop might be far different from the original setting but the story and characters are the same, transforming High Streets across the land into little Jerusalems!
Passion is an aspect of the Christian life which can sadly go unobserved. This is why Holy Week and, in particular, the Triduum – the 3 days of Christian witness from Maundy Thursday to Holy Saturday – should not be missed. The heart of the Christian story lies here. Jesus is betrayed, denied, arrested, falsely accused, tortured, beaten and sent to a heinous death. The miracle of miracles, Jesus beating death, leads us to the feast of feasts – the Easter celebration. Spring replaces winter, light dawns upon a braver world. Our lives are filled with possibility, creativity, birth, beauty, joy. This is my felt experience after living Christ’s passion through Holy Week and celebrating the Easter miracle with a church filled with friends, neighbours and strangers.
The demonstration of passion may not be a typically British trait but the movement of the Spirit of God is beyond borders and cultural sensitivities. In our humble re-enactments and dramatised versions of the gospel narratives we are playing with holiness. We will start this Palm Sunday outside the shops in Summertown Parade, holding high our palm crosses and processing to the church, led by the choir singing, All glory, laud and honour, to thee Redeemer King. We will be singing with passion, portraying Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem. What will the man on the bus think of us? How will the woman in the Farmers’ Market react? We don’t know. All we can do is to be faithful to the passion which we have been given and live it.