I began my call at St. Peter’s on December 1st of 2015 and to say I was a little surprised by some things would be an understatement. I’ve been in parish ministry long enough to understand the general flow of the church calendar and the basic “universal truths” about how churches function. One truth is that December is a headlong rush towards the seasonal culmination of Christmas. Pageants, projects, Social Ministry drives, Advent services, and pastoral visits are all part of the busy December schedule pointing directly to Christmas. St. Peter’s is a bit different because, while all that stuff happens, it wasn’t just pointing towards that day, it was pointing to the Boar’s Head Festival too.
I had been told that the Boar’s Head Festival was a major event in the life and ministry of St. Peter’s. How it was an extensive undertaking with a number of participants, multiple performances, and a large crowd. I had even been shown the large, dedicated, costume room prior to starting and had been warned, “Don’t mess with the Boar’s Head stuff.” Even with all of this I still just thought to myself, “yeah ok, we put on a big Christmas Pageant, what’s the big deal?”
Christmas came and went with its joy and beauty, and then things ramped up for Boar’s Head. I honestly didn’t get it until the Thursday evening dress rehearsal. Sure, I had seen people being fitted for costumes and others rehearsing their various parts, but nothing prepared me for that Thursday evening. I walked into the building, full of energy and people. Folks were running around making sure groups had their costumes, their makeup, their instruments, their music, their programs. The building was hectic, but not in a bad way – it was a form of organized chaos, with people energized and alive, smiling and laughing. I was handed a costume, complete with a pair of tights (one thing they do not prepare you for in seminary is that some calls may require wearing tights), and I was reminded that I was a Beadle (which is a greeter). I put on my costume, went upstairs, and watched everything begin to unfold.
Dozens upon dozens of people arrived at the church – we welcomed them, programs were distributed, and the excitement was palpable. As the lights were lowered, Pastor Todd began his introduction. The building was still and quiet, yet there was a buzz in the air; it was that feeling that might cause the hair on the back of your neck or arms to stand in anticipation. The pipers entered and I finally began to see this show I had heard so much about. To say it was magical would simply not be enough. You’ll just need to come see the show yourself, it’s the only way to understand.
As we prepare for the upcoming Boar’s Head Festival, I have been reflecting on my first experience with it, why it was so meaningful, and why I am looking forward to this year. Beyond the show itself, what is most inspiring is the people. The church is alive with countless participants – directors, stagehands, costume assistants, instrumentalists, singers, performers. The church is full of people, working together, to live out our call as a congregation to share the life, love, and joy of Jesus Christ with others. The church is packed with people to see the show, while the countless people who make the Boar’s Head Festival happen, work together, united by the Holy Spirit, to put on an amazing display of art, music, beauty, and joy. To see so many people working together simply to share the life, love, and joy of Jesus with others is inspiring. It is exciting. It is what church is truly about.
One of my favorite parts of the ministry is preaching. I love the opportunity to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with others. I love the chance to inspire people, for them to feel a bit of God’s love and grace, and think about and experience their faith more deeply. The most amazing thing about the Boar’s Head Festival is that it is an opportunity for so many other people to preach and to proclaim the Good News. It is this community’s chance to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with others. The whole of St. Peter’s is reaching out to the world with the message of God’s grace and love, and encouraging them to experience their faith a little more deeply.
St. Peter’s functions a bit differently than other churches and what I know now is that’s a good thing. Together, as the people of God gathered here in Lafayette Hill, we do something special to live out our call. Together as the people of St. Peter’s we share the life, love, and joy of Jesus Christ with others in a beautiful and awe-inspiring way. I didn’t know what I was walking into last December, and I am certain I don’t have a full grasp of it yet, but I do know that I am blessed and honored to be able to be a part of this community, this church, and this opportunity to proclaim the Good News of the birth of Jesus Christ.
Your fellow servant in Christ,