As an extension of its well-known Christmas live nativity called Journey of Joy, Faith Christian Reformed Church in Tinley Park, Ill. invited the congregation and community to witness a live dramatization of the Easter story, called Journey of Joy Fulfilled.
Faith CRC has been doing the live nativity for 14 years, attracting hundreds or more each time. Alice Wisse, a member of Faith's outreach committee, felt that they shouldn't stop there. "I always had the feeling that we didn't complete it," she said. "Jesus was born in the manger in order to die and be resurrected. That's the importance of the story."
Acting on her desire to share the culmination of Christ's journey on earth with others, she assembled Journey of Joy Fulfilled. The inaugural performance took place on Palm Sunday, April 9.
Church members of many ages took part in the performance. Eleven actors and narrators, along with a group of 12 that acted as the crowd at different parts, acted out the scenes reflected in photos projected for the audience to see. The photos and drama depicted five main scenes among the events of Christ's death and resurrection. The performance began with Jesus' trial before the Jewish leaders and Pilate, Jesus' crucifixion, the empty tomb, the road to Emmaus, Jesus appearing before his disciples, and his ascension to heaven.
Wisse describes it as a composite look at the passion week of Christ. "Everything the actors and narrator say comes directly from the Bible," she said. Between scenes, the audience responded in song.
Wisse's main goal for putting together the performance was that people would "know Jesus Christ and know that Christ is the Savior to all who believe." The church sanctuary was full of church members, neighbors, and community people alike, gathered to be reminded of that message or hear it for the first time.