To begin this week's sermon I reference the Oberammergau Passion Play, began in 1634. As the Black Death swept over Europe, the little village of Oberammergau lost 80 souls in 1633. The villagers pledged to perform the Passion of Jesus - His suffering, death and resurrection - every ten years as a kind of communal worship in the hope of preventing more death. In 1640 they determined to present the play on years ending in zero.
386 years later, the Oberammergau Passion Play is still performed. 124 speaking parts, 65 in the orchestra, 48 in the chorus. All in all, over 2,000 people from the village are needed for the production. In order to participate, each person must either be born in Oberammergau or have lived in the village at least 20 years. The production extends through four months, five days a week, each presentation lasting over four hours.
Only three cancellations in 386 years. In 1770, because for a period of time, all Passion plays were banned. In 1920, because of the devastation of World War 1. In 1940, because World War 2.
Until this year.
The Passion Play begun as a response to a plague has been cancelled because of the Corona-virus. (Plans are being made for 2022.) Is there anything, any corner of our present existence, any minute of waking awareness, left untouched by this virus? Right now it may seem so.
But there is good news.
The Resurrection of Jesus has not been canceled. Remembering and celebrating the ultimate victory is not constrained by any virus or any plague or ... or wars, or famine, or disasters. We have faith, we have hope and we have this present day. Whether we gather joyfully or whether we ponder privately, the resurrection of Jesus is the ultimate good news.
Let us rejoice!
Regardless of the world and the circumstances in which we find ourselves ...
HE IS STILL RISEN!