Monday, December 16th • 7:00-9:30pm
Every year at CCSM/Iglesia San Mateo, somewhere between 50 and 60 attend our Las Posadas. As many of you know,in Latinx communities throughout the hemisphere, re-enactments are held commemorating Mary and Joseph’s search for shelter in Bethlehem—a place for Jesus to be born. Las Posadas literally means “the inns” in Spanish. Traditionally, each night leading up to Christmas, a man and woman playing the roles of Mary and Joseph go from house to house. At each home, they are turned away. Finally, the couple reaches a place, often a church, where they are allowed to enter. A celebration begins which includes food, piñatas, prayers and songs.
May this year’s Posadas renew our spirit to fight for migrants around the globe and especially those coming from the south. Because at our border, the wall remains. A militarized border remains. The door remains closed. There is no innkeeper having a sudden epiphany that it is the mother of God herself to whom he denies hospitality. But Las Posada are re-enacted each year as an act of faith and hope. It requires hope to act out a story with a happy ending when the story we are living doesn’t yet have such an ending — the participants are trusting that God is at work even in things they don’t see or understand. Their hopes echo the book of Hebrews which puts it this way: “Faith is the reality of what we hope for, the proof of what we don’t see” (Hebrews 11:1).
At the celebration’s heart is a candlelit musical procession that moves from house to house (in our case door to door around our church) The lyrics unfold call-and-response style: Those singing outdoors represent Joseph requesting lodging for his pregnant wife, Mary, while those indoors sing the part of the suspicious innkeeper who closes the door because he believes the strangers might be thieves.
While Las Posadas is a beautiful Advent tradition, and a beloved part of Christmas celebrations in many Latinx communities. It is also one that ministers and immigration advocates have begun to use to represent the lack of hospitality at the U.S.–Mexico border. Along the U.S.-Mexican border, some Christians will celebrate Las Posadas across the divide, with Mexicans coming from the south and U.S. citizens coming from the north, with the questions, “Is there room for me? Am I welcome? Can I come in?” taking on a more political tone. In San Diego, people come to both sides of a fence along the border, holding candles and singing songs, with those on the Mexican side asking if they are welcome, if they can come over. The U.S. side sings back, “No you can’t.” Finally, a welcome is offered, and those on both sides share food they have brought. It is a commemoration of an ancient story, laden with the here-and-now.
The theological assumption of those involved in border ministry understand that Jesus is present with the migrants in their journey to find some safe place. The migrants who come here are people who live constantly in fear of being turned in to immigration authorities and being deported. And for themselves and their children and their families, it’s a constant source of anxiety.
Let’s commit to bring down the wall in our lifetimes and never to internalize its divisive and inhuman message in our hearts.
I hope many of you can participate in this wonderful Mexican tradition. Remember, if you do show up you will get a chance to meet many of the families from the Wednesday Gatherings, and you will get to enjoy my mom’s famous tamales which she has made for the past five years; they are always a hit. See you at Las Posadas!