Starting next week is the celebration of Las Posadas. It’s a holiday I like to think about every year around Christmas because it is another way of celebrating the Christian meaning of Christmas. It’s the Spanish traditional celebration around the events of Mary and Joseph and them finding a place to have baby Jesus in Bethlehem. The tradition goes that people walk around town with lights going door to door much like carolers traditionally do, but with the purpose of having the people in the homes recognize “Mary and Joseph” and let them in. It’s a traditional celebration that gets to the heart of part of the Nativity story, one that is talked about in Christian traditions but not one that is as focused on. While they don’t ignore or skip over this aspect of the story, Christians tend to focus more on the manger, birth and visits from the Angels, Shepherds and Wisemen; the “good parts” of the story if you will.
As I was thinking about the many traditions and ways that Christmas is remembered and celebrated around the world the Las Posadas tradition got me thinking about how we as people treat others, and what this tradition has really made a good attempt at working on: accepting each other and opening our homes and lives to each other. It’s not bad to want to get to the birth part of the story and celebrate, it’s an amazing sacrifice and gift that Jesus chose to make. But the lessons that Jesus taught on earth began even before he was born with the journey through Bethlehem and the knocking on doors to find room.
Simply put we’re really good at keeping others at arms length and not stepping up to support or help them. It’s a much different world that we live in today than Mary and Joseph lived in, and people don’t usually knock on our doors asking for a place to have a baby, but there are other needs that we’re not reaching out to meet. Today people need a kind word, chance to prove themselves and people who will support them, beyond (and including) the basics of food or shelter. We’re not reaching out as people or communities today any more than they did years ago for Mary and Joseph.
This Christmas open yourself to the possibility of being there for someone else, of helping them, supporting them and accepting them as a person with needs, desires, dreams, and abilities. Let’s share joy and hope this Christmas.