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Thursday November 23rd 2017

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Journey Through the Dark

“Night and dark are good for us. As the nights lengthen, it’s time to reopen the dreaming space.” — Jeanette Winterson

BY PATRICK CABELLO HANSEL

As the days grow shorter and the nights grow colder, we are still drawn outside at night. There is mystery in a winter night, there is danger, there is hope that someone will welcome us.

Cultures around the world—at least in the northern hemisphere—have developed celebrations that recognize the terror of the sun leaving while celebrating, even demanding its return. Many of these celebrations involve lighting candles or bonfires: Candles on the head of Santa Lucia (“Holy Light”) in Scandinavia. Lighting of the Hanukkah (“Festival of Lights”) candles for Jews, to remember the miracle of the oil when they rededicated the temple after the Macabbean revolution. The Christmas tree and its earth-based and Christian antecedents of celebrating the winter solstice. Many of these celebrations include processions outside, despite the cold in northern climes.

The traditional Mexican Christmas procession of Las Posadas combines both the darkness of the season and the light of welcome. Maria and José (Mary and Joseph) are two scared teenagers who are forced to leave their home and travel to unknown territories because of huge political forces beyond their control. They have to leave their families and depend on strangers for posada, or shelter. They face rejection after rejection, and then the most humble welcome.

Today, there are more refugees in the world than any time since World War II. We’ve all seen the photos of people fleeing war and poverty to get to Europe. While immigration has slowed from Mexico, thousands of people—mostly youth—are fleeing violence in Central America. What if each of those families was Mary and Joseph? What if each of those children was the Holy Child, the one bringing peace? What if each of us was the shelter, the posada?

Las Posadas will be held on December 19 at 4pm at St. Paul’s Lutheran at 2742 15th Ave S. When St. Paul’s was founded in 1887, it was named Svenska Evangeliska Lutherska St. Pauli Kirkan—the St. Paul’s Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Church. Tens of thousands of migrants left Sweden to traverse cold North Atlantic seas, in search of a better life or to be reunited with family. Today St. Paul’s is primarily Latino—Iglesia Luterana San Pablo—but that search for light through the darkness continues.

We will walk in the neighborhood seeking posada, so dress appropriately! The procession will conclude in a darkened sanctuary, where we will hear voices of light from many cultures. Afterwards, the fiesta will include dinner, music and a piñata. For more information, call 612-724-2862, or e-mail stpaulscreate@gmail.com. On Wednesday nights, St. Paul’s Semilla Art Program will host workshops making art for the celebration.

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