A thought-provoking movie experience

Better Half and I are not ones to go to the movies.

As a matter of fact, the last time we did so, it was special circumstances.

A group from our church had made plans to attend a local matinee premiere of Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ,” a film interpreting the final hours and crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

So we went.

That was on Ash Wednesday in 2004, if that tells you anything about the frequency of our outings to movie theaters.

We are from the school of thought to wait for the DVD release or for the movie to be on TV or else never see something at all.

I’m glad we went.

I’m confident, quite certain, that no other movie has ever impressed me more than that one, that it changed how I looked at Easter.

The movie experience stuck with me for several reasons, most notably because of how hard it was to watch and digest what horrible suffering and pain Jesus had to have endured for the sake of mankind — for me, for you, for everybody, for all our sins, big and petty.

We’re surrounded by violence all the time and in so many ways, we’re almost a society numb to it.

I am guilty there, too.

But Jesus was real, I believe, and so, too, was his suffering before his death on the cross and his resurrection.

I remember cringing and wincing with frequency while watching that movie and yet thinking it was something I needed to watch, something I needed to expose myself to, something I needed to understand and appreciate and respect, despite the horror and intensity of it all.

The Bible doesn’t give us details in its matter-of-fact explanation of Jesus being crucified on the cross, which leaves a lot to the imagination.

I remember, too, after the movie — and even during it — people weren’t talking and gabbing and giggling and being distracting during it as you might expect to experience in other public movie settings.

And they didn’t afterward either.

In fact, when the movie ended, people weren’t rushing off to their cars or the concession stand.

People were staying put, maybe reading the credits, but I think they were reacting as I was, staying seated in a kind of stunned silence.

Maybe a lot of people were like me — naive.

In some ways, it seemed we were lingering there in a show of respect or a now-what frame of mind. Maybe both.

Ever since then, Lent and Holy Week have been a time of tears for me, and I’m not one inclined to cry.

In private, though, the lump forms in the throat when I think I’m an undeserving sinner saved by grace.

But I have my tears of appreciation, too, my tears of joy in believing that, though I don’t deserve it, I’m a sinner saved by grace, a child of God.

Our pastor says we are Easter Sunday kind of people.

We know there was a crucifixion, we know there was a brutal death, but we know, too, that the stone rolled away from the tomb, that Jesus rose from the dead nearly 2,000 years ago.

He lives, a risen savior for you and me.

Just let your heart believe.

Happy Easter.

(Kiaski, a resident of Richmond, is a staff columnist and features writer for the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times and community editor for the Herald-Star. She can be contacted at jkiaski@heraldstaronline.com.)