One of the most important stories of all time is the story of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. It’s emotionally hard to imagine it happening and to see it in person would be heartbreaking.
Students and others have the opportunity to see a portrayal of the Easter story that is both realistic and compelling to watch, thanks to UMHB.
Taking place in the Luther Memorial, this year’s Easter Pageant features senior Christian studies major Mark Miller as Jesus, senior elementary education major Allison Hankins as Mary the mother of Jesus and many others as crowd members, priests or disciples.
They are all directed by junior social work major Tracie Byrd and junior Christian studies major Colton White.
Byrd said she became assistant director because Easter Pageant is one of her favorite traditions at the university.
“It builds community, it’s fun, and it’s all about portraying the life of Christ and sharing the gospel,” she said.
Senior elementary education major Rebecca Widmer, who plays a crowd leader, says the leadership is phenomenal this year.
“Colton and Tracie have been a tremendous blessing to us all and are always there to answer questions when we have them,” she said. “I can tell just by looking at the way that they live their lives each and every day that they love the Lord and strive to be more like him.”
One of the hardest roles to portray in history is Jesus Christ, and this year the directors and administration choose Miller.
“The role of Jesus is not something that I went looking for,” Miller said. “But it is an honor to have the opportunity to portray Christ for a year.”
Sophomore Christian missions major Ryan Murphy, who plays the high priest Caiphias this year, said there is a great resemblance between Miller and Jesus.
“It’s crazy, but when I or anyone else pictures what Jesus looks like, he looks like Mark Miller,” Murphy said.
By representing these historical figures, most of the actors gain a different perspective of the Easter story.
“I feel like being part of this story really makes me feel like a lot of Jews did back then. When we practice the “yelling” scenes while Jesus is being crucified/arrested, we give it our all, but I have found in years past that doing those scenes is so hard,” Widmer said.
By acting out the Easter story, students as well as the audience connect with the message.
“I have come to the realization that it really was me yelling those things at him,” Widmer said. “On pageant day, it is so hard to yell because tears are streaming down my face the entire time, but I know that it helps make pageant come to life more.”
Miller said his relationship with God has definitely changed throughout the process.
“There are many challenges not only in portraying the sinless Savior in a performance, but also I have expectations from many other people to live like Jesus,” Miller said. “It is a challenge that has made me look into scripture and believe in God’s goodness, not my own strength.”
He has also realized several characteristics of Christ.
“Jesus lived in constant trust and dependence on God the Father, which makes Jesus unique among all humanity,” Miller said.
Practices are on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4:45-6 p.m. There is a group devotion at the beginning, and then they do a run-through of the whole story.
Murphy said, “This is such a blessing getting to do pageant. I’ve gotten chill bumps just during practice.”
The directors say there is always room for more people to participate.
Byrd said, “God will ultimately be glorified through Easter Pageant.”