In a time such as this, when political correctness barely allows any Christian symbol in public, a group of enthusiasts takes to the streets the greatest story of all times. It happened in front of a large crowd in Trafalgar Square, London, in 2019. The company producing this is called Wintershall and is doing this every year. In 2020, the public event was stopped by coronavirus scare, but was still broadcasted live online.

The initiative belonged to now venerable couple Peter and Ann Hutley, who bought a small farm in Wintershall when they were young. They used the barn for a Nativity play acted by family members for neighbors and friends around Christmas. Since then, the idea developed into a large event, ever growing in complexity and a large cast of actors. They perform a few shows every year in Witershall and in large cities around major events. Even the Pope commissioned a play and Queen Elizabeth II decorated them for their effort. Now a second generation of the same family has took over a tradition started 30 years ago.

It is incredibly difficult to sum up a character larger than life, that changed the lives of millions of people in the last two millenniums. The play, however, follows the main events narrated by the four Gospels, in a cinematic and basic way, avoiding dogmatic controversies between denominations.

The play starts with a brief suggestion of the three years of preaching, when Jesus gathered His apostles and taught His message of love, virtue and hope for an eternal life. The parables and the miracles are just a draft, main of the play concentrating on the last days on Earth.

The preaching

The first spectacular moment of the play is the entering in Jerusalem, on the back of a donkey, fulfilling an Old Testament prophecy. The moment is celebrated in Christian church as the Palm Sunday, when the Hebrews welcomed Messiah. The multitudes were impressed by the rumors about the many miracles He did, including resurrecting the dead, and they were hoping for an earthly leader, maybe a liberator from Roman occupation. But the Son of God had a much higher proposition, to liberate men from the captivity of sin, to reunite man with God, with the meaning of existence that was lost after the fall of Adam and Eve.

Entering Jerusalem

The message of returning to God was voiced out by visionary prophets and moral legislators of the Old Testament. The prophets, who spoke about a coming Messiah were often persecuted and martyred by the powerful of the age. And Christ, who was the fulfillment of those prophecies, also was met with the resentment of the Pharisees and of the Sadducee. These were the two main political and religious movements of Jewish elite, with different opinions on how the law of Moses should be preserved. They were divided between a strict observance of the outside requirements of the ritual, guarding the oral traditions added to the law, or strict interpretation of the text, as was the case of the intellectual class.

The trial

Judas, one of the apostles, betrays his Master for 30 pieces of silver and Christ is arrested and secretly tried for blasphemy by the religious authorities. The Jewish leaders decide after the hearing that Christ should be killed for calling himself Son of God. But because Palestine was occupied by the Roman Empire, they were only allowed to give penalties that were less than the capital one. So the leaders of the Jews went to Roman governor Pontius Pilate, to persuade him to take this measure.

Pilate attempts to find out if the accused is indeed a danger for the empire and that He is claiming to be king of Judea. But he is baffled by the answer: „My Kingdom is not from this world”. Because Pilate couldn’t find a guilt, but rather suspected was just in front of some mystical local, sought a way out of the difficult responsibility. Following a tradition, to free prisoners around major holidays, Pilate left this choice to the people. Asked to choose between Christ and a rebel Barabbas, the people asked for Christ to be crucified.

Crucifixion

The Passion of Christ, with the whipping by Roman soldiers, the insults of the multitudes, carrying of the cross and the ordeal, is obviously the most dramatic part and difficult to reproduce in a public live performance. If the story of Jesus would have ended with the death on the cross, maybe few would speak about it two thousand years after. But the resurrection was the beginning for a new faith. It came with an unheard message of a loving God, that experiences human tragedy in all its aspects, except for sin. It brought the revolutionary commandment of loving ones enemy, of pursuing the eternal values over material inclinations.

Resurrected

Christ restores the dignity of human nature and invites us to follow Him, as a door towards the Father. He tells His disciples that the world will hate them for sharing a teaching that is out of this world, just like He was hated for His truth. „In the world, you will have tribulations. But take heat, I have overcome the world!”

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