First Assembly play good reminder of Easter

Published 10:57 pm Monday, April 13, 2009

By By Tray Smith
Two weeks ago, I spent most of Sunday afternoon trying to decide whether or not I would attend the annual passion play at Atmore First Assembly of God. “It is the same thing every year,” I thought, trying to persuade myself not to go. Eventually, however, my good sense got the best of me, and I reserved a place to sit with my family.
After watching the play, I realized two things. First, I was correct in my prediction: the play was much the same as last years, and very similar to several passion plays I have seen at First Assembly over the years. However, I also realized I was wrong to think that the fact I had seen the show previously somehow justified not seeing it again.
Today, Christians around the world are celebrating Easter, an annual observation that occurs sometime around the date Jesus rose from the dead 2,009 years ago. This celebration is based on a story that has survived that long period of time unchanged. That story is a tale of what happened when God became a man so he could offer humans salvation despite their sins.
Church members who produce passion plays, therefore, do not have much to work with in the form of originality: the narrative never changes. Yet, they need not worry. It is precisely the redundancy of the story they tell and the persistence with which they tell it that makes Christians such a compelling force.
Myself a member of the Christian faith, I have heard several times the story of how Jesus was crucified. Nothing is quite as powerful, though, as seeing it displayed as a graphic visual on stage, and realizing that not even the best actors fully capture the grasp of the suffering Jesus endured. While witnessing such a depiction is an emotionally taxing experience, it is an experience that needs to be felt annually, least we forget the magnitude of sacrifice made on our behalf.
Indeed, we all need to be constantly reminded of the Easter story. So, my hats off to Atmore First Assembly of God and their team of actors, who have so diligently provided us with that reminder each year. At the end of that service, Pastor Don Davis commented that the show has been going on for over twenty years. I hope it goes on for twenty more.
As I watched the play, my curious mind was filled with questions. What if the Romans, portrayed as antagonist, were right, and Jesus really was a crazy person? Then came the obvious response. Would anyone really be setting there, two thousand years later in one of a few thousand churches, if the entire religion was based on a lunatic? Granted, there are a few very large religions today seemingly based on such people, but it is evident that there is a larger force behind Christianity.
My next question was why Jesus would have to go through such suffering in order to earn forgiveness, and why God could not at his own will forgive all of human sin. On this Easter, it is important for all Christians to remember that Jesus did not just come for the soul purpose of being crucified and providing a path to salvation; he also came to live everyday like a human being. Having lived among men as a man was essential for being able to establish a relationship with people, and those relationships would have never been established had God chosen not to send his Son here.
Finally, I just decided to stop asking questions and enjoy the presentation. There is so much I do not and never will know. I am glad I watched the play, though, because as much as God has done for me this year, I needed to give a few hours to watch the story of what he did for me on Easter, over 2,000 years ago.
Tray Smith is a former page in the U.S. House of Representatives. He can be reached at His column appears weekly.

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