When we visited out old church in Preston a couple of weeks ago, they were all talking about this up and coming event in the old bus station in the city centre. Lots of my friends were involved in the choir, or the crowd scenes. Today it was televised on the BBC, and the whole thing was quite remarkable. Those in the UK can watch it again here.
The Passion was a retelling of the Easter story using three short films set in Preston- a mayor dealing with riots in 1842, women waiting for the return of sons from the first world war, and a young girl (above) who was caring for her brothers and sisters because her mother was drunk. In the mix was a live performance of music and dance based at the huge Preston bus station– itself a rather famous example of brutalist architecture from the 1960s.
It made me cry lots. In a good way. It was possible to visualise an incarnate loving God permeating everything. In the muck and gristle of human existence. And to see this in the TV in these supposedly secular and post Christian times was wonderful to an old Christian like me.
Some of the places in the films were so familiar too- Michaela and I met a couple of hundred yards from one of them.
If I was to be at all critical, the black gospel bits at the end seemed tacked on, almost like the only way we Brits can do celebratory spiritual music is this way. I love this music, but it just seemed a bit cliched. Having said that, Preston has a sizeable Afro-Caribbean population so perhaps I am being harsh.
Well done Preston, and well done the BBC.