By Pete Schrank
Summer time is when we pack up the car or jump on a plane for the family vacation. Some of us get to travel for business, or are retired and working on our travel bucket list. Most people long for those adventures to faraway places. Travel allows us to see that the rest of the world is not like America. Travel for religious reasons is something many Christians yearn to do. This can deepen our faith and allow us to behold those location where Jesus’ life of sacrifice was lived.
For Lutheran’s there are a number of other special places to travel. As we near the 500th anniversary of the reformation, travel to Wittenberg might be in order. The life and locations of Martin Luther’s journey from humble monk to world order agent of change is compelling.
However Oberammergau, a small village in Bavaria, Germany, provides a unique opportunity to see how Lutherans have been honoring our Lord’s Passion since 1634. In 1633 as bubonic plague swept through parts of Germany, the residents of Oberammergau promised if the town was spared, they would produce a play about the life and death Jesus. The death rate in Oberammergau was 240 times less than the surrounding area so the villagers kept this pledge. A collective promise made to the almighty God can yield powerful results.
The Oberammergau Passion Play is performed every 10 years. 102 performances have been held with only 2- 1920 and 1940- cancelled due to war. The next scheduled performance will be 2020. The production involves 2,000 performers, musicians, and stage technicians. The passion play is 16 acts long, and runs for five hours which includes a meal break. The play is preformed in German but there are English programs to lead you through the performance. I have been told the passion play is visually stunning.
The village of Oberammergau, is committed to honor the most important part of the New Testament: the crucifixion, burial, and resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. This dedication should be inspiring to all Christians around the world. As we struggle to find what our faith means to us each and every day, let us remember that small village in Bavaria.