The Darkness Did Not Overcome It: The First Posada

Tonight our journey began with our first Posada with the Barsenas household.

The first Posada is always an adventure. Tonight our readings were Isaiah 40:3-5 and Luke 1:18-25, but the verse in my mind all night was this one, John 1:5: “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.”

About half an hour before we were to begin, as I was leaving the Cathedral, I got an anxious call from Yency, saying, “Eileen, the power is out in the neighborhood where Martha lives. Do we have any lanterns at the church? Martha is very worried.”

I tried to reassure her, saying, “Oh, well, this will just be a super-authentic posada. I doubt Jose and Maria had electricity when they arrived at the stable.” This was an unhelpful remark, so I said no more and tracked down some flashlights.

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.”

We gathered in the street to light our candles and to begin the journey together, young and old, neighbor and stranger. If you have ever been to a series of Posadas, you know that on the first night especially, everyone has to relearn how to sing the songs together all over again. After all, it has been a year, and people have forgotten the tune. The other thing that happens as one processes from one place to the next is that people in different parts of the line end up singing at a different pace, so there is this constant straining to listen to one another to try to sing in unison and vaguely in the same key. Las Posadas teaches the community to listen and to respond to each other in new ways. We learn to look out for those who are being left behind as we seek to stay together.

The house was dark, but lit by every lantern that the Barsenas family and their neighbors could track down. “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” The light of Christ was palpably present in the community gathered around the table as the gospel was proclaimed, bread broken, and wine shared.

Padre Simón asked us to reflect on a time when God asked us to do something that we knew would be very difficult. He reminded us that our individual “yes” to God really does matter, that we really can bring about tremendous change in the world by saying “yes” to God’s call to us, even when it seems difficult. And he reminded us, by way of encouragement, that when God calls us to do what is difficult, God also offers us the grace and the strength to do it.   In seminary, I had a professor who would always say “yes” instead of “amen” when she received communion, and I thought of her tonight as I received. What is God calling me to say “yes” to in the communities where I live and work so that they might be transformed into places where the light dwells? How can I cultivate a hospitable spirit that is more open to others? How can I cultivate a hospitable spirit that welcomes the Christ child in this Christmas?

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it… And to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God.”


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