Advent Journey: In the Steps of Joseph and Mary, Mike Brown and Eric Garner
At my community, Hope Fellowship, we intend and aspire to be a diverse group of people. Yet we often fail miserably. We are primarily Anglo, but we try to be diverse and include among ourselves Latino/as. Many of us have connections to Spanish-speaking countries in various ways. We try to be bilingual. We translate most things in worship and teaching. It’s a lot of extra work, but we have committed to doing it as part of being a more diverse body.
I am in charge of planning an event we do every year that is traditional in many parts of Latin America leading up to Christmas, Las Posadas.
The tradition of the Posadas was brought to Mexico from Spain in the 1500’s by Catholic Missionaries. The Posadas commemorate Mary and Joseph’s difficult journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem in search of a place for the Christ Child to be born. In Spanish, the word means dwelling or lodging. The Posadas traditionally begin on December 16 for nine evenings, culminating with the Posada on December 24 and Midnight Mass. (from Wikipedia and catholic.org)
I am realizing this year what a big deal this event is in the life of our community, particularly as we aspire to be more diverse. This is the only event during the year that celebrates the culture of the Latino/as among us. We celebrate the Posada earlier in December so more people can participate and we only do it one night. For some of our brothers and sisters this feels like we don’t really understand the tradition. They often shrug it off, probably because they are used to this kind of treatment of their culture by the dominant culture (Think Cinco de Mayo).
This year as I have been thinking about this tradition and how to make it more significant, I have been struck by connections with events in the news, especially those concerning racial justice and protesting injustices from Ferguson to Hong Kong. So here are my words of introduction for us as we enter into the Advent journey with Joseph and Mary:
We observe the Posadas tonight to remember that our Advent journey goes through the Samaria of rejection, oppression and exclusion. God’s journey to bring us hope is not simple or without suffering. Tonight we walk in the steps of Joseph and Mary. We also walk in the steps of Mike Brown and Eric Garner, our brothers and sisters in Valle Nuevo and all those who have been rejected and suffered, wandering in the night looking for justice and longing for peace.