STANTON — On Sunday, many will don the new dresses, or have a big family dinner or search for dyed boiled eggs. These are all traditions reserved for Easter Sunday.
But what if that very first Easter Sunday had never happened?
Trinity Evangelical Free Church at 400 N. Lincoln St. in Stanton presents “What if Sunday had not come?” as this year’s annual Easter presentation.
The free one-hour show will take place 7 p.m. tonight and 11 a.m. Easter Sunday.
“This is a very different presentation than what we have done before,” said Mark Edwards, pastor of administration and music director for the presentation. “We realized last year that 99 percent of those in our audience weren’t connected with a church. We decided we should go for a very evangelistic message this year.”
Ken Crouse, Edwards and others sat down last summer to write the script.
“With a production this large, you can’t wait. You have to start way ahead,” Edwards said.
More than 80 people — from infants in arms and silver-haired saints — are involved in some capacity- acting, singing, tech, lights, props or makeup.
An elaborate set with few changes shows the attention to detail and assists in making quick scene changes. In an unusual twist, the production starts in modern day, with the church choir wearing robes and actors in modern dress. Within minutes most are back on stage, now wearing attire appropriate for Biblical times.
The story centers on Laurie, played convincingly by Mindy Crouse, whose life is in turmoil. Her friend Kate, portrayed strongly by Laura Thompson, invites her to church.
“I don’t know,” Laurie hesitates, “My life is kind of messy right now. Let me fix things, get it together before I go to church.”
Kate convinces her to try church anyway, saying messy doesn’t matter.
The choir, in a stained glass choir loft, opens with a beautiful rendition of “What if Sunday Never Comes” with the sopranos nailing the melodic high notes. The choir’s number “The Easter Song” explains how one Sunday changed everything.
Laurie, however, is still trying to make sense of how this Jesus is.
“Jesus is more than just a good guy,” explains Kate, “He is the Son of God who came to earth to die for our sins.”
Dell Pike, in a clear, dynamic voice, serves as narrator and soloist in “Blessed is He” while Julie Guyott leads in “The Road of Sorrows” and Michelle Monroe aces her solo in “Beneath the Cross of Jesus.”
Kate loans a book to Laurie, encouraging her to read it and learn more about her Jesus. Laurie, while reading it, falls asleep, and suddenly finds herself dreaming about being in the town of Jerusalem as the townspeople welcome Jesus into the city.
A bearded, long haired Ben Crouse portrays a humble, loving Jesus. The children’s dance is truly adorable, and aids the party-like atmosphere.
But the joyous festivities don’t last, and soon Laurie sees Jesus brought before Pontius Pilate, portrayed regally by Pike.With the townspeople encouraging it, Pilate condemns Jesus, and orders Him to be crucified.
The crucifixion scene is dramatic with lighting enhancing the somber tone.
Laurie is confused.
“Did you see what just happened?” she asks Kate, “They all killed him. If Jesus is the Son of God, why couldn’t he save himself?”
Kate, who knows that resurrection Sunday follows crucifixion Friday, reassures her that it will be all right, that Jesus’ death is not the end of the story.
Come to “What if Sunday had not come?” to see how his story lives on.
Lori Hansen is a Greenville-area correspondent.