Radical Welcome

By Andrew Gale, Executive Director of Global Strategy

“…for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.” —Matthew 25:35-36 (NRSV)

In many parts of Latin America, you can find a beautiful Christmas tradition called las posadas. For those who may not be familiar with las posadas (which means lodging or accommodations), it is a physical retelling of the journey that Mary and Joseph make to find a place to stay in Bethlehem. It has aspects that are similar to a mix of door-to-door caroling and a Christmas pageant.

In las posadas, friends visit homes singing a request for a place to stay. Two people play María (Mary) and José (Joseph) while others take on roles of shepherds or angels. At each house, the innkeeper (homeowner) expresses that there is no room for the family. Participants continue on, house to house, until they reach their final location, which welcomes them in and everyone shares a meal together. Though the tradition varies across the region, the theme of María and José looking for a place of welcome is consistent.

Las posadas has taken on different meanings in certain communities. One of the most powerful expressions of the tradition can be found in the border town of Tijuana, México, where community leaders celebrate what they call Las Posadas Sin Fronteras (Las Posadas Without Borders). In this telling of the Christmas story, María and José are on the Mexico side of the border calling out to the innkeepers in the United States. It is an image of the struggle we face to truly offer welcome to those in need.

This season always bring up questions for me. How do we make our table bigger? How do we extend our arms wider? How do we allow the narrative of the birth of Jesus to shape us into people of radical welcome? May we live in a way that embodies the incarnational hospitality of Christ to those around us.

*This text was written for the Christian Women Connections Christmas devotional book.


Posted 15 December 2021

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