The power and passion of EasterBlessed with unseasonably warm weather, this year’s Passion Drama was a huge draw.
Blessed with unseasonably warm weather, this year’s Passion Drama was a huge draw.
About 1,575 people flocked to see the 14th annual outdoor production at Zion Lutheran Church on Sunday and another 1,302 took the tour on Tuesday.
Temperatures were in the 40s on Sunday and hit 70 degrees on Tuesday, making it the nicest weather that Passion Drama organizers can remember having.
The total attendance surpassed last year’s numbers by about 400, noted Jeff Roste, one of the organizers.
“The line was phenomenally long this year but people didn’t seem to mind,” Roste said. “And it went fairly quickly. The most people had to wait was about 45 minutes.”
Sponsored jointly by Zion and Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, the Passion Drama offered free 15-minute guided tours of Jesus’ last days on Earth from the birth of Christ to the Ascension.
About 150 volunteers helped in this year’s production.
A new twist to the presentation this year was a retired Roman Centurian soldier who spoke to the crowds waiting to enter Jerusalem. He briefed those in line about how he became part of history.
Returning from last year was Dr. Mark Schuler, professor of theology at Concordia College in St. Paul. Dr. Schuler shared some of the signs and customs of those who lived during Jesus’ time on Earth.
The drama at the church continues through this Easter weekend with the Guarding of the Tomb. Members of Zion and Good Shepherd will stand outside a makeshift tomb starting today, Good Friday, at noon and continuing until 5 a.m. Easter morning.
People are encouraged to drive by 3rd Avenue and Lake Street to view the presentation and are welcome to stop and talk with the soldiers about the message of Easter.
Things you don’t know about the Passion Drama
Here are some facts about the Passion Drama provided by organizers:
•The Passion Drama was started after one of the organizers attended First Lutheran’s Living Nativity and thought the Easter story could also be portrayed in a similar fashion. Also, a friend invited the organizer to St. Mary’s Stations of the Cross.
•There were seven scenes in the original drama back in 1997.
•The first year was a drive-through and each car was given a cassette tape. This resulted in cars being backed up more than eight blocks. Cars overheated and traffic jams resulted. The walk-through started the following year with much greater success.
•More than 450 Christmas trees are used each year as backdrops. They are later chipped and put to good use.
•About 150 custumes, mostly made from donated material, are professionally constructed by women in the churches’ congregations.
•A total of 24 soldier uniforms were made. Patterns were created after researching history books, the Internet, books purchased directly from Israel, and the Bible. The moose hide used to construct them was donated by the Uber Glove Company from southeastern Minnesota.
•The soldier helmets were donated by the Monticello Marching Band.
•The high priest uniform is an exact replica of an Old Testament high priest uniform.
•Between 250 and 300 people volunteer each year to act, setup, cleanup, help with costumes, cook in the kitchen, etc.
•The scenes are all professionally designed and built by members of Zion and Good Shepherd.
•Each year the message stays the same, however a new “twist” to the drama is incorporated. New features added last year were a 42-foot-long wall of Jerusalem, along with a speaker – Dr. Mark Schuller, professor of theology at Concordia University. Schuller is also an archeologist who shares the historical facts about the time of Christ, based on his numerous digs in the Middle East.
•An all new and interactive website will be launched the fall of 2010 to include video of the scenes, information, Facebook, e-mail and Twitter connectivity.
•Petronius, the retired soldier positioned outside the gate of Jerusalem, was actually the name of a Roman centurion at the time of Christ. Herod Anitpas actually recruited individuals as axillaries (spies) and volunteers received Roman citizenship in return for their service.
•No remains or bones have ever been found or recovered of a Jew named “Jeshua” (Jesus).