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Communion Meditations (2016)

Las Posadas

Originally scheduled for December 25

Many Americans are unfamiliar with a Mexican tradition at Christmas called Las Posadas . It is a charming ceremony performed for nine nights just before Christmas. A procession is formed, headed by two people playing Mary and Joseph. They go from house to house asking for shelter (“posadas”). Like the original Mary and Joseph they are turned away until the procession comes to an end point where they are given shelter.

This was originally an outdoor play designed to teach the people of Mexico — recently conquered by the Spanish — about the Nativity of Christ. Most of the residents were not literate, and therefore an outdoor play was something that they could understand easily. Over the years it has grown into a celebration. You might well ask why there are nine nights; the answer is simply that pregnancy takes nine months. The nine nights recognize Mary’s pregnancy.

Of course, teaching like this does something more than just tell the story. It also gets across some points about doctrine as well:

·         The fact that Mary is pregnant implies that Jesus, the Christ, is fully human. Real human beings come from pregnant women. Had Jesus stepped out of a flying saucer, doctrine would be quite different.

·         The fact that the couple are seeking shelter tells the story that Jesus was born as a poor boy. Most of the rest of us were born that way too, and therefore we see in him someone who suffers like we do.

·         Perhaps the brightest lesson of doctrine is this: the joy of the Nativity. This little drama announces to us that the Savior is born. Sometimes we forget that the word “gospel” means “Good News.”

 

Such a procession of Mary and Joseph also brings us some light on communion:

·         The joy of his birth reminds us of the purpose of his life — to die for our sins on the Cross. He did not come just to tell us some funny stories, but to be the Lamb of God.

·         It also reminds us of Christ’s words concerning the “least of these.” We are to practice hospitality. Communion is open to all who believe; an example of God’s hospitality.

·         Like Las Posadas, communion is a visual representation, in this instance the death of Christ. His body, the bread, and his blood, the cup pictured for us.

A procession like Las Posadas sticks in the mind of the children, helping them to remember. Communion sticks in the mind of the adults for the same purpose.

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