Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The road to Bethlehem

winds through my parishes.

For a long time I've been wanting to explore the tradition of the Posada, in a rather simpler English variant which involves sending Mary & Joseph from the church's crib scene on an Advent journey, spending a night at different homes and businesses in the parish.
This is a first for community in the valley (for various reasons, it's worked out that village on the hill isn't participating this year) and though I tried to flag it up and wrote an explanatory article for the parish mag some time ago, the initial response was a bit disappointing. My vision was that the couple could spend a night with some of the housebound members of the church family, might visit the pub, the Co-op, - anywhere really. The school was enthusiastic, so the first week of Advent was spent travelling from class to class:then it was out into the big wide world, travelling securely in their basket, accompanied by a candle, a card with prayers and explanation and an all-important post-it pad.

The explanatory text on the card runs thus...

Posada is a Spanish word meaning ‘inn’. Posada celebrations started in Mexico where two young people were chosen to dress up as Mary and Joseph. They used to travel from house to house in their village telling people about the imminent arrival of Jesus and asking them if they would give him a room. On Christmas Eve they would re-enact a community play and bring figures of Mary and Joseph to be placed in the crib. Our Cainscross version is based on this idea but instead we want people to give a home to nativity figures from the church crib for a night. This will symbolise making room for Jesus in our hearts and our homes. Each night during Advent the figures travel around the parish from home to home arriving in church on Christmas Eve in time for the Crib Service, held in St Matthew’s church at 5.00 (for which children are invited to come dressed as a character from the Christmas story). It’s up to you how you use this opportunity. You might like to light the candle that is in the basket with Mary & Joseph, and pray the prayers below. If you wish, you could use the post-it pad to write down a name or a situation that you’d like us to offer to God in prayer…all the post-it prayers will be placed on the altar during Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve.

What has delighted and startled me is the enthusiasm of those who have actually hosted the couple so far, even when I initially had to twist their arms to offer hospitality. (I guess my explanations weren't clear enough - at least one person told me they couldn't invite them to stay as they simply didn't have a spare room!)...A couple of my older ladies have been positively weeping with pleasure about the whole experience - and one, who won't be able to get to church at all over Christmas, was particularly eloquent about the value of feeling her prayers would be physically part of the worship at Midnight Mass.
Like so many other Kathryn-isms, this probably suffered from insufficient planning...Next year I will hope to include all 3 schools, and make a point of offering the opportunity to the house-bound first - it seems such a happy way to involve them in the worship we offer at Christmas...and it will be a privilege to offer those prayers.

Meanwhile, the host households are offered two prayer suggestions themselves
Reading them again at the end of a rather hassle-filled day, I rather wish the vicarage was included on the sleep-over itinerary...

Dear Lord God, Father Son and Holy Spirit You are always present in our home, though we don’t see you or even remember your presence. Help us to experience the joy of looking forward this Advent and make it a time of new beginnings. We welcome these figures from the nativity and pray that you will bless this house and all of us who live here. Amen.

Lord God our Father, as we have welcomed these Posada figures into our homes, we pray that other people will open their homes and their lives to you at this Advent time. Help all who will be involved in the Posada by welcoming these figures to celebrate with expectation the waiting time between now and Christmas. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


paulwchambers said...


mid-life rookie said...

What a wonderful idea! Mind if I steal it? You are so creative! Thanks. Thanks. Thanks.