Advice for the Clerical Posada Rookie:
Just keep the following in your car for all 9 days of Las Posadas: extra collars, EXTRA COLLAR BUTTONS, your alb, stole(s), an extra pair of shoes (in case you walk through someone’s yard and uh-oh), and, if celebrating the holy mysteries, an extra bottle of Port.
The second Posada is way too early in the string of Posadas to have this scenario happen:
Last night, our second Posada was hosted by Ana and Erick Portillo and the extended Hernandez family in Pearland.
Our gospel reading came from Luke 1:5-25. It’s Luke’s strange story of the first annunciation of a miraculous birth, not to Mary, but to poor old Zechariah as he serves in the sanctuary of the Lord. Hearing this gospel story, I was struck not just by the silencing of the voice of Zechariah but by the way Elizabeth then finds her voice and her place in the story. She said, “This is what the Lord has done for me when he looked favorably on me and took away the shame I have endured among my people.” Elizabeth, the barren one, speaks with one voice with the great matriarchs of Israel, with Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, the mother of Samson, and with Hannah the mother of Samuel. But she also speaks for the people of Israel here, a conquered and cast down people of little consequence among the nations. Luke is indicating that God is about to raise up what has been cast down and to set those imprisoned by shame free, and it is the barren one, the shamed one, Elizabeth, who is the first human being in Luke’s gospel to start the proclamation of God’s gracious action. She is the first, but other unexpected voices will quickly pick up the tune of God’s grace: Mary, Zechariah who will find his voice again, angels standing before lowly shepherds at night, Simeon, and the prophetess and widow Anna. All of these will join together with one voice in the song of God’s grace that fills Luke’s infancy narratives.
After the first Posada, I blogged about the challenge of learning to sing together with one voice in the Posada processions (still challenging btw). Last night, Padre Simón preached about the origins of Las Posadas over four hundred years ago, when missionaries in Mexico received permission from Rome to celebrate masses for nine consecutive days prior to the Nativity. He noted that the tradition of Las Posadas not only calls upon us to join our voices with those of friends, neighbors and strangers. This tradition joins our voice to the voices of the many generations who made this journey before us, and to the voices of people throughout the world who journey with us in these days.
Las Posadas is also a practice that joins our voices to those who have no voice: to the forgotten, the poor, the oppressed, the fearful, and to those bound by shame. We prepare the way for a savior sent to bring good news to the poor, to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor (Lk 4: 18-19 paraphrased). How might we who are on this journey together unbind the Elizabeths of the world from the crippling shame that keeps them mute? How might we find the courage to speak to others of God’s surprising grace in our lives?
The practice of Las Posadas makes us especially aware of those who are making dangerous journeys in search of survival and freedom in these days. I would like to highlight the excellent work of Episcopal Migration Ministries. There are ways that you can make a difference today by offering your voice through advocacy and welcome and by giving what you can.