New Sweden Mission Church, a few miles south-east of Wetaskiwin, once again lived up to its long-held reputation for excellence in Christmas plays. This year’s play, “Bethlehem!…Nothing Ever Happens Here!” was, in fact, acclaimed one of the best by many who have attended regularly for decades. Solid performances, excellence in sets and costumes, and a well handled time-warp made the ageless nativity story fresh and new again.
Travellers from now and the travellers from then were arriving in Bethlehem around the time of Jesus’ birth. The questions, answers and explanations exchanged between the people of now and the people of then provided fresh perspective on the nativity events.
Humour was added by the young lady of Bethlehem who kept insisting that “nothing ever happens here.” With a cast of more than 60 ranging from wee ones to a couple seniors, more than 35 of them children and teens, there was a role for every young person in their large Sunday School, and for a few of the adults. A number worked behind the scenes on costumes, sets, lights, sound and such. A large proportion of the church was involved in making this an event to remember.
At the end of the program, the children received Christmas candy bags, and delicious refreshments were served, providing an excellent opportunity to mix and mingle and visit with friends old and new.
Looking at names and roles in the program made me more aware of the wise way succession is handled at New Sweden. Plays and programs are chosen so that all the children and youth take part and gain valuable experience in them, starting with preschoolers. Everyone is encouraged to develop their talents and gradually take appropriate responsibility. A number of those who were leaders when I was growing up there are no longer with us. The next generation was the one that built the large new addition a few years ago, and opened it debt free because, as farmers, they had the skills to do most of the work themselves. Many of them are now grandparents and leadership is shifting to the next generation. With the generations overlapping from family to family, there are always a number at every stage, growing, learning, helping, teaching, leading, mentoring, encouraging each one to accept appropriate responsibility at each step along the way. Succession is a basic part of the life of the congregation that has functioned well for 120 years. Congratulations!
Pictured: The main characters in “Bethlehem!…Nothing Ever Happens Here!” Photo by Margaret Chegwin