First of all, I want to apologize for being absent for the past 6 weeks. I took a summer break during which John and I went on vacation to Upstate New York to visit his aunt and uncle who live in the Finger Lakes area which provided me with new topics for this blog.
As I also received my Employment Authorization Card I got my New Jersey license and went on an intense job hunt. On our first night of our vacation, we went to the Hill Cumorah Pageant in Palmyra, NY. The pageant is held annually, this year from July 10-18 with performances starting at 9:15 PM on July 10 and 11 and 14-18. It attracts approximately 35,000 visitors every year. The script for the pageant is taken from both the Bible and the Book of Mormon and is presented by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is a religious pageant displaying 10 scenes from the Book of Mormon:
- The Prophet Lehi: About 600 years B.C., Lehi asked the people of Jerusalem for penance, but they wouldn’t listen to him. Lehi is then advised by God to take his family and flee from Jerusalem before it is destroyed. It is assured that Lehi and his family will be led to a new promised land.
- The Visions of Jesus Christ: Lehi’s sons – Laman, Lemuel, Sam and Nephi – return to Jerusalem to secure ancient sacred records. Then they return another time to bring Ishmael and his family back with them. Lehi and Nephi receive visions of Jesus Christ’s ministry.
- The Building of a Ship: Upon reaching the ocean, the Lord commands Nephi to build a ship. Even though his brothers oppose him, Nephi succeeds in building the ship and the two families take off to the Promised Land.
- The Voyage to Ancient America: During the long journey across the ocean some of Lehi’s family members misbehave. When Nephi attempts to correct them, his brothers use violence against him which enrages God and He punishes them by sending a terrible storm their way. The storm continues perpetually until they repent. After the storm subsides, the ship is safely guided to the shores of America.
Nephi keeps the history of his people on metal plates.
While his brothers still behave rebelliously, even planning to kill him, Nephi receives warning from God and leads his people to safety and they become known as the Nephites. Their enemies are called the Lamanites (after his brother Laman).
- The Burning of Abinadi: Many hundred years later, the Nephites misbehave and a prophet called Abinadi warns a Nephite king that his people should live righteously in order to prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ as the Savior. The king does not believe his warnings and orders Abinadi to be burned. Only one man, Alma, believes in Abinadi’s predictions.
- The Ministry of Alma: Alma flees into the wilderness where he teaches gospels to those who come to him to learn the truth and baptize them. Just as Abinadi predicted, many of the followers of the king get captured by the Lamanites and their king is burned to death.
- The Prophecy: A Day, a Night, and a Day: A few years before Jesus Christ is born, Samuel, a righteous Lamanite, predicts the birth and death of the Savior and the signs that will appear in America: there will be no darkness the night he is born and the day he dies there will be a great destruction followed by three days of darkness.
Years pass without the prediction being fulfilled and doubters plan to kill the believers but one night the sign shows: there is no darkness that night and the believers celebrate the birth of the Savior.
- The Resurrected Christ Appears in Ancient America: Destruction and darkness follow the crucifixion of Jesus Christ in Jerusalem. The resurrected Christ appears in America, testifies that He is the God of Israel who was slain for the sins in the world. He teaches his gospel and organizes His church. After His work is done, He ascends to heaven.
- The Written Word: A Golden Message: After 200 years of peace, the people divide into Nephites and Lamanites again because most people reject the gospel of Jesus Christ. The prophet Mormon abridges the histories of the people, writing them on metal plates. His son, Moroni, completes his work and prophesies that those who read the plates will know their truthfulness through the power of the Holy Ghost. Moroni hides the plates in a stone box in the Hill Cumorah.
- The Restoration of Christ’s Church: In September 1823, as an angel, prophet Moroni visits a young man called Joseph Smith and tells him about the record and shows him the place the plates are hidden. Smith translates the plates by the gift and power of God, and published the Book of Mormon in Palmyra, NY, in 1830. Thereafter, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is founded in Fayette, NY.
The pageant is held outside on a stage built into the hill next to the Hill Cumorah Visitor Center (653 NY-21, Palmyra, NY 14522, www.hillcumorah.org).
There is plenty of seating available and parking is provided on a field on the opposite side of the street.
When we crossed the street to get to the pageant place we came across protesters against the pageant and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints which I found odd because I had never experienced anything like that before. I also don’t think the Mormons mean any harm to anyone so I don’t understand the protesters. I just went there to have a good time and see something unique to the area and to learn more about something I had next to no knowledge about before.
I found the show very interesting and it helped me understand the Mormon belief system even though I am not very religious but am a baptized Catholic. There were many followers of the Church but also many people of different beliefs present as well.
We were made feel welcome and comfortable by the organizers of the pageant. All actors are members of the Church and meander around the area dressed in their costumes before the show starts. The soundtrack is prerecorded by professional actors, with singing by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, which showed when the sound failed for about half a minute during the performance and the actors just stood on stage like paralyzed.The performance is free and open to the public. Visitors can bring their own chairs or picnic blankets and drinks and food. Alcoholic beverages are prohibited on the grounds.
American Sign Languages interpretation is provided live for each show and head sets for Spanish translation are available as well.
Since the show is held outdoors, I advise everyone to bring bug spray.
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