Good Friday for the Fitches was spent with a day trip to London. we did all the usual things, stood outside Buckingham Palace for the changing of the guards, saw the London Eye, Big Ben, Westminister Abbey, St.Pauls Cathedral, the Tower of London and we went on a boat cruise down the Thames. It was probably very similar to a lot of other tourist’s experience of London except for one thing.
At 3:15 we went to Trafalgar square to join a couple of thousand other people to watch a ninety-minute production of The Passion of Christ.
As you can see from the video of the play, it was an incredibly high-quality event. The acting was as good as you would expect from any West End production. But what I thought was incredible was their amazing use of space, The Actors would move around all of Trafalgar Square for the performance. For example, even though we were right on the outskirts of the Square, while the crowd’s attention was on the crucifixion in the middle of the Square, Judas brushed past us as he was contemplating his actions. There was a huge screen at the front, and incredibly whenever an actor spoke, no matter where they were, there was a close up of their face on the screen.
One of the interesting things about us watching from the outskirts of Trafalgar Square was watching the reactions of people who were just passing by. I heard one mum, reminding her toddler about communion as the the Last Supper scene was on the big screen. ‘remember Lucy, we eat the bread and remember Jesus’ body.’ Many people would stop and take a photograph of the huge crowd and the play. But quite a few times, I noticed people sniggering, as if it was hilarious that people would watch such a thing, or care about such a thing, and for sure it was irrelevant and they were above it all.
Certainly, in much of the western world, atheism is the norm being projected from the media, just yesterday, listening to a BBC 4 podcast, time after time, they referred to the Church as being old fashioned or immoral. Thy mentioned how the scouts have come on a long way since the 80’s, back then scouts had to go to Church, now they have exciting and modern badges to earn. In another section they mention how out of touch the media was in Ireland, they even do a prayer before the news at 6pm.
So with consistent anti-religion bashing, I’m not surprised the general public’s view on Christianity is diminishing. I think it can be easy to stick your head in the sand, not really engage with the realities of existence on this planet, why we are here, why is there so much suffering and pain? And while the media suggests the solution is to temper the suffering, by lusting after good times, wealth and power. This in itself is ironically leading to greater levels of depression and suicide.
The Passion of the Christ play presents a God who chose to live out a fully human existence, who chose to suffer and to die. And while the greater Christian narrative is of God conquering death, I think it is important to note that in this story, God doesn’t try to push the suffering under the carpet, he acknowledges it is part of human life and fully embraces it.
From my perspective, it reminds me, that God can fully empathise with us during our darkest days. I know in my life, on days like my father dying, I felt the presence of God as a shoulder to rest on. And while this was the only thing significant in my life on that day, the media was far away, reporting whatever was ‘really important.’
And while people walking past the Passion story were sniggering as if it is not relevant to their life, however in my view, it is actually in this story we find relevance in our lives.