Mel Gibson's film "The Passion of the Christ" is using Ash Wednesday for its opening day. For some, the film stirs up strong emotions. For others, controversy.
A steady stream of filmgoers filed in for the 11:20 a.m. first screening of the movie at Crossgates Mall in Guilderland.
Tickets first went one sale one week ago.Kathleen Briggs was shopping with her daughter and decided to buy one.
"I wanted to see it on opening day and I noticed that they were selling them ahead of time. So I just bought it," she said.
Church groups have been selling tickets for several weeks ago. Capital Region pastors and priests have come together in support of the movie. Many of them say it's a powerful tool for ministry.
"We believe it will have an impact on us to strengthen our faith and encourage us to motivate us to share the good news of Christ. It's not a movie of violence. It's a movie of historical reality," said Pastor Duke Hergatt of the Temple Baptist Church in Halfmoon.
Bill Yuhasd, a student ministry pastor, says the movie is a great way to teach young people about Jesus Christ.
"Because it gives our kids, my students, a chance to just come out and see it for themselves. Not just hear it from us or see it on words on paper, but actually be able to visualize it," Yuhasd said before going into the theater.
Having the premiere on Ash Wednesday does have special significance for many of the viewers. The first day of Lent is a day of sacrifice, which is one of the major themes of the film.