Jesus for Today
The first programme could be used as the culmination of a series of six Bible Studies exploring the themes or the people of the Passion Play using the following questions for discussion and the supplementary topics later in the booklet. Each Bible Study could finish with a prayer meditation from Jesus, for ever the same. The programme could be used in a single session, beginning with a discussion on the themes, the people, or the locations of the play, then showing the video, and finishing with Jesus for ever the same.
It is one thing to read the words of the story in the Bible, quite another to take those same words and dramatise them on the streets of a town. Familiar locations add new meaning and significance to old words. To be part of the crowd, to be one of the disciples, to be a woman sharing the words of Jesus with passers-by on the street takes you inside the story in a new and sometimes startling way. To see your Mayor playing the part of Pilate, and your Minister playing the part of the High Priest who condemned Jesus to death makes you think again about the way Jesus would have been received by the authorities today.
The Passion Play begins in Cheltenham’s international friendship park as we see Jesus reaching out the hand of friendship to people across the divisions of gender, race and religion. Think about the barriers in our own world - and how we can break them down.
What are the friendships we should be developing in order to bring people together in the sprit of Jesus’ teaching on love?
At the cleansing of the Temple Jesus is confronted with clergy on the steps of a town centre church desperately raising money to keep the institution of the church going. Jesus reacts angrily condemning those religious people for making a house of prayer into a supermarket. Even as he breaks bread for the last time with his friends those religious leaders are conspiring to destroy him. What would Jesus have to say about the priorities of the church and religious leaders today?
Betrayed by a friend, by the religious authorities, by the civic authorities ... and by everyone in the crowd it dawns on those participating in the Passion Play that they also have betrayed him. Think of the ways in which Jesus is betrayed today.
How do you stop yourself going along with the crowd at the point at which you need to take a stand for what is right?
From the steps of the Municipal Offices we follow the stations of the cross. To witness a reconstruction of the crucifixion has a strangely moving power. On the way of the cross and in an agonising death Jesus shared our griefs and sorrows.
Share with each other the way in which the death of Jesus helps us to cope with death, dying and bereavement.
The crowds return to the walled garden which had served as the tomb on Easter Sunday morning and celebrate resurrection.
What do you make of life after death and resurrection? How do your views shape the way you live your life now and the priorities you have?