I remember the first time my old church did a really big Passion Play. It stands out to me as one of the key markers in the transition from large church to mega-church. Our choir was always incredible. I never heard less than excellence from them, and knowing many of the people in the choir made it more impressive. These were kids I'd grown up with, friends of my parents, acquaintances whose faces I knew from passing them in the hallways every Sunday giving these incredible, professional performances. The lighting blew me away, and seeing a real man on a real cross (minus real nails) was wrenching. I remember the power of it now, even though it was decades ago.
I believe in a literal crucifixion, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the great incomprehensible mystery of why it had to be so, the cruelty in it, the love in it, the glory of it all. It evokes genuine awe within me. It makes me tremble. But I no longer really enjoy Passion Plays. Besides the spectaculars of my former church, I've been to an array from the truly professional to the small budget, small town small church. A dear friend portrays Jesus regularly. I can appreciate them. The devotion of the performers is what usually gets to me the most. I just feel like something is missing. No matter how simple or ornate the performance, they all seem too glossy.
What I want to see is Jesus at the well with the Samaritan woman, telling the Roman centurion's daughter to wake up, gently telling Martha (I always felt so sorry for her) that her sister was where she needed to be. I want to see gentle amusement and patience on his face while he's talking to his frequently confounded apostles. I'd really like to see the guests at the dinner where the woman with the alabaster jar bathes his feet in oil, tears and her hair. On both the generic Christian and most personal levels, it is Jesus' humanity that makes it possible for me to be a Christian. I don't know how to relate to a perfect, formless Deity. (The faith of Abraham had to be amazing, but then again, I don't get audible messages from God either.) It slays me that God knew that and chose to be human.
The former fundamentalist in me tells me that it is through the literal blood of Christ that we are saved. Yet, it is in the life of Christ, his teachings and his example, that I find true belief as a Christian. Is it the blood or is it the life? I no longer have the surety of how things work in my faith. That doesn't mean I don't believe. The analytical me would just love to have the details pinned into place and explained. I have to satisfy myself with plunging into the darkness of the Passion. It's unsettling, a little scary and definitely disturbing. Acknowledging the comforting grace of God is much easier.