A Message from Pastor Dave Schreiber
Dear Risen Lord disciples:
For my daily devotions this Lent, I am re-reading a book by Walter Wangerin Jr., ELCA pastor and professor at Valparaiso University, but more broadly known as an award-winning author and master storyteller. His book is a collection of imaginative meditations on the “Greatest Story Ever Told”, inviting the reader to enter into the story of Christ’s Passion from the inside, to experience “being there” personally, in the midst of the events as they unfold. “Reliving the Passion: Meditations on the Suffering, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus as Recorded in Mark” is still available on Amazon, though now out of print.
I confess I pulled it off my bookshelf partly because of personal disappointment – last year I was to have led two groups on sold-out tours that featured the famous Oberammergau Passion Play, performed once each decade since the 1600’s by the townsfolk of a tiny hamlet in the Bavarian Alps, fulfilling a promise made during the Plague. Postponed due to the modern pandemic, and now re-scheduled for 2022, the production aims to have the audience experience what Wangerin seeks to do in his story-telling: recognize our own faces in the streets of Jerusalem, breathe the dark and heavy air of Golgotha; and experience, as Mary and Peter did, the bewilderment, the challenge, and the ultimate revelation of knowing the man called Jesus as the Christ of God.
I first experienced the Oberammergau Passion Play in 2010 on a sabbatical, studying the role of drama in the proclamation of the Gospel. While I was prepared to be inspired (which I was), I was also blown away by the sheer spectacle and artistic excellence of the production. Full orchestra and mass choir, at times with literally hundreds of actors on the stage, the commitment of the village to “tell the story” well is clear – one example began last week, as the “Hair and Beard Decree” was posted in the village on the Ash Wednesday the year before the performances. From now to the summer of 2022, men in the play are not allowed to shave, and women and men cannot cut their hair, in part so that modern hair styles or fake beards do not distract the audience, but more so that the actors themselves “grow into” their roles and the entire village prepares to fulfill their sacred vow.
Entering the Story of Jesus’ Passion in such a way, taking to heart all that He did to embrace our own pain, brokenness and sin certainly puts my travel disappointment in humbling perspective (and after all, even more humbling, I’m still going in 2022!). I trust the same can be true for all of us, whether we are simply struggling with “Covid fatigue” or burdened by overwhelming worries and other challenges of this life. The Passion of Jesus - the Greatest Story Ever Told - is ultimately your personal story, the story of God’s redeeming love for you, the story of abundant life bestowed on you by the Crucified and Risen Lord.
Be well, friends. You are loved.
Pastor Dave Schreiber
PS: For those who may be interested in joining me in 2022, I do have a few remaining open spots on both tours featuring the Oberammergau Passion Play. Call, email or see these: For June 2022 “Alpine Explorer with the Glacier Express Train” go to https://gateway.gocollette.com/link/826495 For September 2022 “Germany’s Cultural Cities and the Romantic Road” go to https://gateway.gocollette.com/link/851688