5 Things You Should Know About The Passion | UMC YoungPeople
Connecting young people and their adult leaders to God, the church, and the world
March 2016

5 Things You Should Know About The Passion

By Sabrina Short

Sabrina Short, one of our Design Team members for YOUTH 2015 lives in New Orleans, and got a behind-the-scenes tour and discussion with the producers of The Passion TV special airing on Fox Sunday, March 20th.

Here are her thoughts about the production, as well as a study/discussion guide that youth leaders could use with their youth to discuss the Passion Story, Palm Sunday, and reflections for each day of Holy Week.

It's not often one is invited to the set of a network television show, so I jumped at the opportunity to see the filming of The Passion Live, a musical telling of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ set in modern day New Orleans. Since I was a small child, I’ve enjoyed singing the songs of ‘My Fair Lady’, ‘Sound of Music’ and ‘The Wiz’. However, I never thought I would ever see a musical about Jesus’ death accompanied with song and celebration. As I look at the actors I see laughing, hugging and people having a good time. There is life and energy on set and the actors exude a sense of relatability and harmony as they beam at the cameras. I've never seen disciples like these!

1) The Passion Live is not your typical Jesus Christ musical with bright lights and over the top satire. It is an account on a life that is true, genuine and captivating. As I met with the creator Jacco Doornbos and musical director Adam Anders, I listened intently as they shared their vision to unveil and even demystify the essence of a 2000 year-old story anchored in tradition with care and intentionality. I admire their commitment to lift up a story in a new way with a new lens for a new generation. Hosted by New Orleans’ very own Tyler Perry, this production is high-quality and star studded, created especially for live network television in a city that has its own story of resurrection and hope.

2) Music that speaks to the soul. Still in awe from the set, I entered the studio, and the sound booth is quiet. A small group of us gathered among the visionaries as they prepared to present their artistry. With a push of a button from one song to the next, I am moved, challenged and astounded. The music instantly elevated me and I was transported into the spirit of Mary, Judas and even Jesus. I felt their plea to erase apathetic hearts and reveal their truth. I am instantly blown away by how each song spoke to my heart and my theology. The Passion Live uses the universal language of music to transform unlikely pop ballads to anthems of praise!

3) Church is wherever God meets you! I am constantly in awe of how God uses all of the different mediums to reach people and bring hope into our sometimes desolate and lonely world. The Passion Live stretches our assumptions of how and where God’s story can be told. The confines of a church building is not the only place to receive the message of forgiveness and compassion. The church can be an intimidating place. A place where people are even reluctant to go. People who may not want to go to church, or have reservations about religion, can still be engaged without fear through music that has been repurposed for a sacred experience.

4) Unlimited, unchartered and indeed unconditional. I truly respect the ingenuity of the creators and the intentionality they put behind the film. A clip of Jencarlos Canela singing ‘Unconditionally’, originally sung by Katy Perry, illustrates a Jesus with open arms inviting everyone to be open to live a life free from fear and filled with grace. The story of Jesus is universal. Jesus does not belong to one denomination or faith community. His life, message and love is not for one, but all. The Passion Live exemplifies the fundamental belief that all have the opportunity to experience the power of God, no matter who we are. As we declare the good news of God, just like his baby boy came to us in an unlikely setting, our methods should also push the envelope of what is expected.

5) The show is just the beginning! I am excited to be the crowd on Sunday, March 20th from New Orleans. I will be serving with numerous congregations from around the city sharing the love of Christ with those who want more after the event. If you can’t be in New Orleans, tune in live, invite some friends over, host a watch party at your church, gather with your youth group and open your heart to the possibilities! Consider organizing your own After Passion at your local church. Visit passionnola.com to get ideas on how you can open your doors in your own community.

We have to be careful not to put God in a box. God’s power cannot be contained with rules, limits or boundaries. Once we realize that God is in full control of everything, whether we agree with it or not, and we don’t rely on our own understanding, we can then be moved and amazed beyond our own expectations. We have to surrender and be ready to receive what He has for us. Just don’t let it end with the story! Find places to gather after the show to reflect, discuss and learn more about Jesus. He waiting for you and has already paved the way. All you have to do is take the first step.

Click here for The Passion Youth Discussion Guide