Thanks to internet communication, it was easy to cancel the June 19th pageant and picnic on Saturday and reschedule for Sunday. Saturday’s weather forecast was uncertain, with rain starting from a drizzle to heavy downpour by late afternoon. But a timely notice was posted online to reschedule the event to Sunday. Sunday was beautiful weather and a huge crowd arrived on time. The pageant went off without a hitch and we were able to celebrate New Church Day. Last year’s drive-by pageant due to COVID-19 was a very cool event, but it was wonderful to have the picnic and pageant as usual this year, with all of our friends there.
Erik and Ann Buss have been directing the pageant for the past twelve years, varying and improving it each year, though generally using the plan that has become standard since 1997. The planning team this year included Alison Cole and Rachel Martin, with about 75 advisors, actors, dancers and fighters who were willing to come together at this time of year when most people are finishing school and heading off on vacations. And they were flexible enough to take the rain delay in stride. All of this only days before the Buss family – all things packed up and camping in their empty house – heads off to their new assignment in Colchester, England. We do wonder how we will carry this work forward in the future without them.
Not only the pageant itself, but New Church Day overall, has always had a theme of the liberation of the enslaved human race from the powers of hell. So it is a happy coincidence that this year the Juneteenth celebration has become a national holiday. Each scene of the pageant has something of that theme, from the hope given to the mournful Souls Under the Altar, to the descent of the New Jerusalem. Each one is part of the recognition that “whoever commits sin is a slave of sin... but if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed” (John 8:34-36).
New Church Day also typically coincides with Father’s Day, which may or may not often be mentioned. But the Lord as our Heavenly Father is an aspect of the celebration that can’t be missed. The many and changing roles that He takes on in the book of Revelation illustrate His varying presence with us – sometimes remote and even fearsome, like the One on the throne; other times heroic, like the One on the white horse; and other times close and loving, like the Lamb, the Husband of the New Jerusalem, the one who dwells with us, His people.
At the end of the pageant, before the children came up for their gifts, Erik thanked Eric Carswell for his work as Head Pastor over the past eight years, and the wonderful job he has done. We all sang to Eric and Donna in response, and of course he is staying on to assist Derek Elphick until he can find an assistant. We look forward to welcoming Derek and Gay to Bryn Athyn sometime in the next few weeks.