Friday, as most children were out of school and the western Christian world began counting down to Easter, the faithful throughout Northeast Mississippi braved sporadically threatening weather to commemorate Jesus’ crucifixion and death.
Dozens turned out at the Tupelo Civic Auditorium on Good Friday for a showing of “The Passion of the Christ,” a 2004 movie graphically depicting Christ’s last hours.
The movie was presented by The Church at Trace Crossing, a Southern Baptist Congregation. Senior pastor the Rev. Kevin Wood said the purpose was to remind folks not skip over Jesus’ suffering in anticipation of his resurrection.
“When we use the word ‘passion’ in our culture we assume that we mean enthusiasm, like a football game,” said Wood.
“But, the story of Easter starts with suffering. That’s the hard part of the story, the part that, frankly, we tend to water down.”
In Itawamba County the congregations of Friendship United Methodist Church and Harden’s Chapel United Methodist Church took to the streets to recall Jesus’ last walk.
Sharing the burden of a wooden cross, some 30 people walked nearly a mile before ending in the church yard in Peppertown.
This was the fourth year for the walk and, according to the Rev. Harold Manning, pastor of both churches, it served as a reminder to passersby and to those who participated.
“The expected answer for, ‘Why do you do this?’ would be, ‘For the love of Jesus,’” said Manning. “But, I think (the experience) has more to do with reaffirming each individual’s commitment to Christ.”
Hispanic parishioners at St. James Catholic Church in Tupelo also carried a cross on Good Friday, up a steep hill, through the whipping wind, singing, “Perdona tu publeo, Senor,” or “Forgive your people, Lord.”
They were walking the Stations of the Cross, a series of 14 devotions depicting Jesus’ experience from his condemnation to his death and burial.
Elquin Gonzales, director of Hispanic ministry at St. James said the Stations of the Cross evoke the heart of the Christian message.
“We misunderstand the cross,” said Gonzales. “We see the cross as Jesus’ contemporaries saw it, as a disgrace, as a shame. But, Jesus showed us that we all carry crosses, for instance, in our sickness and our shortcomings. Jesus showed us that the cross is not a shame but the instrument of our salvation. The cross is victory.”
Contact Daily Journal religion editor Galen Holley at 678-1510 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Adam Armour of the Itawamba Times contributed to this story.
Galen Holley/Daily Journal