How the Passion Play is Like Epcot

Ever been to Epcot?  (I haven’t.  But I’m going to talk about it anyway.)  Epcot is a theme park located at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida.  One of its primary features is a section called World Showcase, which includes shops, restaurants, and attractions that represent the culture and cuisine of eleven different countries from around the world, including Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, Italy, Japan, Morocco, France, United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States.  It’s a 150 acre microcosm of the world in which we live.  The same could be said for what’s taking place downtown this Easter.

A Theme in Microcosm

If you’ve been part of our church or following our blog this year, then you know that our church’s 2011 theme is Living Life Together.  All year long, we’ve been looking for ways to build stronger relationships both within our church and within the community.  We’re doing this because we believe that where stronger relationships are present, better discipleship happens.  And we’re convinced that these things bring greater glory to God.

As part of our Easter ministries, our church has traditionally sought to share the hope of Christ’s resurrection with our community through the presentation of The Lafayette Passion Play, a full-scale dramatic depiction and discussion of the final events of Christ’s life and earthly ministry.  If you’ve ever been involved in the Passion Play (or really any major theatrical endeavor), then you know that pulling off a ministry like this is no small task.  It’s an undertaking that requires hundreds of people to use the time, talents, gifts, and energy that God has given them in service of the message.  No single individual could carry out this ministry on his own.  In an Epcot-like way, it paints a microcosmic picture of what Living Life Together is all about.

Flesh and Blood Examples

Ken Sherwin is a career engineer with skill as a carpenter and a thirst for figuring out how to make things work.  Using the training and passion God has given him, he has almost single-handedly designed and constructed a twenty-five-foot rotating turntable that allows us to present a complex story with multiple scene changes simply and efficiently through the push of a button. (Watch that turntable being assembled.)

Holly Richard is a caring and creative elementary school teacher with some incredible administrative gifts and a fantastic recipe for brownies.  For years as our stage manager, she has kept the backstage environment—which in many places is often both stressful and chaotic—an enjoyable place to serve.  From year to year, we have very little turnover among our backstage crew, and I’m convinced that one of the reasons that’s the case is because of the atmosphere Holly creates.

Arvid Olson is a Renaissance man with two degrees in technical theatre.  His know-how and ingenuity have enabled us to safely overcome obstacles that could and probably would have brought our presentations to a standstill had he not been involved.  His seemingly boundless imagination has helped us to share the story of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection in new and creative ways for over two decades.

Titus Curtis is a gifted composer with an amazing musical instinct.  I believe that one of the most critical elements that makes our presentation “work” is the series of beautiful musical transitions that seamlessly carry us from scene to scene.  Titus composed all of those transition pieces supplied with nothing more than sketchy descriptions like “starts unsettled and ends hopeful.”  Unbelievable.  And composing transitions was just his side job.  His primary function has been to prepare our choir to communicate the power of the gospel through song, and he has done this expertly.

Without the contributions of any one of these individuals, our presentation wouldn’t be nearly as effective.  And those are just four examples.  Jonathan Smith and his team do an incredible job in engineering our sound and making it possible for the presentation to be heard clearly throughout the 1,190 seat theatre.  Joe Wright makes our volunteer orchestra sound as good as many you might hear in professional productions.  In her script, my wife Deb (about whom I am admittedly biased) has skillfully woven Scripture and spiritual discussion into the conversation of the play without making it sound forced or trite.  I could go on and on.

Paul Talked About This

For months these individuals, along with countless others, pour themselves into preparations for this ministry.  Then, for one week out of the year, they come together to worship, laugh, weep, sing, eat, pray, and serve—all in the service of our Savior for the proclamation of His life-giving truth.  It reminds me of the goal mentioned by the Apostle Paul in the book of Ephesians.

Ephesians 4:16
From [Christ] the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.

I’m so thankful for the privilege to be involved in a ministry that so uniquely exemplifies what Living Life Together is all about.

Epcot photo courtesy of DanTsu at Wikimedia Commons.

Trey Garner
Trey Garner is the Pastor of Children's Ministries at Faith Church. He has been married to his wife Deb since 2001. They have two children named Noah and Lauren. Originally from Texas, Trey appreciates barnwood, armadillos, and Blue Bell Ice Cream.