By Ernie Brown
In the next several days, churches will either host or sponsor a variety of Easter or Passion plays depicting the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
I want to take up a few column inches thanking the many women, men and children who volunteer long hours toward making these plays magnificent productions.
It takes a lot of time and money to construct background sets, and rehearsals for these productions are now, or soon will be, set for nearly every day.
Other churches have Easter cantatas, and these events also require a great level of commitment from singers and musicians to carve out several hours of their week to make sure their presentation is pleasing to God and man.
The thing I enjoy most when attending these performances is the focus on the message of Christ: He gave his perfect life as a substitute for our sinful one.
It is a timeless message of hope and love, and I have seen people’s lives change as they watch these plays.
I have seen little children get excited to dress up and perform before hundreds of strangers.
I have witnessed men and women, exhausted after hours of preparation, become energized when the play begins and they see people crowd into churches and auditoriums to see the fruits of their labor.
And nearly all of that labor is donated. I have heard people whose voices rival that of nationally known performers belt out memorable songs of worship and praise for free.
They realize their performance is not so much for the audience, but rather to please the one who created them. For them, it is a ministry.
The Bible teaches that we should use our talents and gifts to praise the creator of all things.
That same holy book also says to whom much is given, much is required.
The United States has been abundantly blessed over the years. Freedom of religion has been a hallmark of this nation’s success, and our country’s so-called Founding Fathers used biblical principles to shape our democracy.
So I find it a source of great strength and comfort to see young and old, black, white, Asian and Latinos come together to present in word and song perhaps the seminal event in human history.
Even those who don’t believe in Christ or his teachings have been impressed with these performances. They may have been invited by friends and family and consented to go out of obligation or just to appease those who issued the invitation.
But the beauty is that they were witnesses to a powerful and positive message of unconditional love.
Many of these plays end with what is called an invitation, in which people are asked to accept Christ’s free gift of salvation and deliverance from the stranglehold of sin in their lives.
If the person attending, however, chooses not to make that decision, the plays plant a seed, a message, that can stick and stay, and that’s the real purpose behind the productions.
The plays are truly a visual representation of Scripture, and God’s word never returns void, but accomplishes what he wants it to do.
Again, I want to thank the people who work so tirelessly to make these plays and cantatas such a rousing success.
There is a Scripture found in I Corinthians 15:58 that I think sums up your efforts: “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”
The Vindicator’s Religion Page today carries the times and days of these performances, so take a few hours out of your hectic schedule and enjoy the acting, music and the message. I believe you will be blessed.