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Josh Wilbanks, portraying the resurrected Christ, emerges from a tomb on stage during rehearsal for 'The Blood Code' at Calvary Assembly of God Church.
Daily photo by John Godbey
Josh Wilbanks, portraying the resurrected Christ, emerges from a tomb on stage during rehearsal for "The Blood Code" at Calvary Assembly of God Church.

Calvary show now 'Blood Code'

By Melanie B. Smith
msmith@decaturdaily.com 340-2468

"The Whip, Hammer & Cross" pageant that Calvary Assembly of God Church has put on to packed houses for 18 years is defunct, but it is being reborn.

The new show will still involve hundreds of dancers, musicians, actors and other volunteers. It will depict the trial, death and resurrection of Jesus.

But the new program with the name "The Blood Code" will focus more on the cross, and that theme can't omit Jesus' bleeding and dying, said the Rev. George Sawyer, pastor.

"That's the message of the cross," he said. "Without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sins."

The pastor said the production won't be more graphic than before and may be less so. The theme is more about why Jesus did what he did, Sawyer said.

Promotional materials for "The Blood Code" show an image of Christ on a cross against a background of numbers and equations. Sawyer said the new show links the gospel story to the modern world as did "The Da Vinci Code" book and movie, but it doesn't revamp Christianity as did those works.

He said drama planners believe the program needed an update, though it was a risk to "re-brand" something so successful. A church should seek to be culturally relevant while not playing down the gospel message, Sawyer said.

"The Blood Code" examines the seven places where Jesus shed blood, including the Garden of Gethsemene, the pastor said.

Added drama includes brief depictions of contemporary struggles, but all of the big scenes from "The Whip, Hammer & Cross" are intact, he said.

"It's different, but Easter is still the same story," said director Phyllis Sawyer.

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