In 1633, the Plague devastated a Europe being torn by the Thirty Years’ War. The small town of Oberammergau in Bavaria was overcome by the pain and grief from the loss of loved ones. The people turned to God and made a vow that every ten years they would perform a play about Jesus’ crucifixion, if God would stop the pestilence. God honoured their vow and no-one else died from the Plague in their community. Initially the play was performed in the church, but it soon had to move to the cemetery as more people attended. Then its fame spread worldwide. In 1900 a dedicated theatre with 5000 seats was erected. This Passion Play has been performed every ten years almost without stop, but the pandemic (ironic!) meant it was postponed from 2020 to 2022. Only people born in Oberammergau or who have lived there over 20 years can participate, although children are the obvious exception to the rule. The performance is a daily occurrence from May to October. It is an amazing theatrical spectacle demonstrating the faith of the people of Oberammergau as well as portraying the Easter story’s message.
In this photo Jesus is accused by the High Priests and sentenced to death by the Romans, who invaded Palestine in 63BC. Only Pilate, the Roman Governor, could give the order to crucify prisoners – the most cruel, agonizing death imaginable!
So, invading another country is nothing new. As I was reading the English text of the script, I came to the part where Jesus tells his disciples to love their enemies and do good to those that hate them. Judas says of the Romans, ‘They are eating our crops and bread, they will devour our sons and daughters, they will swallow the sheep and cattle, they will plunder our vines and fig trees; they will destroy the cities with their sword. And we are supposed to love them?’
These words struck me powerfully as specifically relevant to the world news today, but extremely hard to do! Yet Jesus lived by this rule and allowed his adversaries to kill him, so that he could fulfil prophecy. The play ends not with his death but with Mary Magdalene proclaiming, ’Hallelujah! He is risen!’
Marian Nash - member of the Christian faith
Date: Monday 13th June 2022