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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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A rapt remembering

It was May 1990, and I was sitting high in the Oberammergau Passion Play amphitheater. The choir stood singly in a semicircle below, faces tilted up. Swelling from deep pathos to sweet overtones, their voices matched their words as they spoke to us with song, telling the story of Jesus' passion:

Soft breezes of peace blow throughout the world
From the branches of the tree of Christ.

In the background, a scene shifted from that of a magnificent angel guarding the entrance to Eden to a cross set high on a hill. Words rose to remind us that what was lost at the tree of Eden was won back for us on the tree of Calvary. I moved closer to the edge of my seat, trying not to miss profound implications, trying to fathom.

This presentation of Christ's passion so compelled me that I found myself leaning forward, following with furtive eye the poignantly beautiful words in English from my small book of text, while hardly daring to move my eyes from the stage.

Welcome to all whom tender love
Of the Savior unites, mourning to follow Him
On His journey of suffering ...

These words were spoken in solemn sincerity by Prologue, a principal figure. Stepping forward from the choir, he wove his commentary throughout the play:

Follow now at the side of the Redeemer,
Until He struggles to the end
Of His rough and thorny path, and in fierce strife,
Bleeding to death, His sufferings end for us.

Prologue's words drew me into the world of the last days of Jesus' life, from Palm Sunday to Easter. I was there. I felt, heard, saw, empathized and before the finish — I wept.


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