I have just got back from a long-awaited trip to Oberammergau in the Bavarian Alps to experience a performance of their world-famous Passion Play.

Almost 400 years ago, in 1632, during the Thirty Years War, the Black Death arrived in Oberammergau and within a few days, over 80 adults - half the population – had died.

The legend goes that, in desperation, the villagers made a vow that, if God spared the rest of them, they would stage the story of the passion of Christ every tenth year from then on.

Today Christians do not see God as dreaming up plagues and wars to punish humanity – and then needing us to make vows to appease him.

We know that it is we who are responsible for the hunger, conflict and pain in the world.

And yet the story of the Christ who suffered for our sins continues to resonate.

So, when this small town turns itself into a theatre every ten years, thousands of people come from all over the world to experience that story – the story of a man who wandered through the desert of Galilee, and the cities of Tiberius, Capernaum and Jerusalem, healing the sick, seeking out the socially marginalised, telling stories of love and of peace, and upsetting the authorities so much that they put him to death in the cruellest of ways.

Experiencing the music, the drama and the tableaux, so wonderfully and sincerely performed, is something I, for one, will never forget.

Anne Pater

Stricklandgate Methodist Church