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Ormond Beach Observer Tuesday, Apr. 22, 2014 4 years ago

Riverbend Church presents 23rd Passion Play

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by: Emily Blackwood News Editor

Pastor Michael Harsch plays Jesus for tenth year in a row. 

Youth Pastor Michael Harsch has gotten the role of a lifetime. One that he has managed to hang on to for a decade.

Harsch will play Jesus in the upcoming Riverbend Community Church Passion Play titled “The Promise.”

The lead role in any production requires heavy amounts of practicing and even research. But how does one prepare to play Jesus?

“Obviously the Bible has been very helpful,” Harsch said. “I really try to pay attention to and to think about the life of Jesus the best I can. I believe Jesus is both God and man. But I’m only one of those things. The Bible really shows Jesus’ humanity.”

The role of Jesus isn’t something earned through audition or experience and it’s not passed on so easily. Harsch took over the part from another church member that had played it for 12 years.

“I’ve never done theatre,” Harsch said. “A few skits in high school but nothing like this. I was chosen based on the availability and the need.”

The production is two hours long and includes a church-based crew of 300 people. The focus of the play is on a promise God made over 6,000 years ago the life of Jesus Christ, particularly his final week on Earth.

“I try to be composed because I don’t imagine Jesus to be like a roller coaster all up and down,” Harsch said. “I imagine him to be very in control. I’ve hopefully developed over the years what kind of person he was like so every single person would be drawn to him. That’s who Jesus is.”

And don’t worry, the role of Jesus hasn’t gone to his head.

“People come up to me and say ‘Hi Jesus’ when I’m in character,” Harsch said. “I know I’m not him so I remind them that I’m only playing the part of Jesus. So it’s a mental battle at times.”

Tickets for the play are free and available at the Passion Play Box Office. They can also be reserved online at www.RiverbendChurch.com.

“Of course we would desire to expose people to our church but I really don’t believe that’s the most pressing need. The greatest desire for all of us is to show that the life of Jesus Christ is true. We want people to be exposed and aware of that.

The play opens at 3 p.m., and 7 p.m., April 26, 3 p.m., April 27, 7 p.m., May 2, 3 p.m., and 7.p.m., May 3 and 3 p.m., May 4.

Call 672-1821.

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