CHRISTMAS IN MEXICO…and a far greater lesson
I recently watched an educational video called Las Posadas: Christmas in Mexico. Actually I watched it 6 times in one day. No, that wasn’t my choice. It was the choice of the Spanish teacher whose class I covered the other day. But the video was all about the traditions of Christmas in Mexico. I don’t know if these were traditions throughout all of Mexico or just one particular area. At any rate, it was fascinating.
Christmas in Mexico begins on December 16th which commemorates the events in the journey of Mary and Joseph. The festivities are kicked off by parades and celebrations honoring the coming of the baby Jesus. They “dress up” Jesus (a doll) in a fancy, beautifully handmade silk “dress.” People come up to “honor” Him in a variety of ways—kiss Him, touch His garment, etc.
Each household also sets up a Nativity scene (much like the Americans). They don’t, however, add the baby Jesus to the manger until midnight on Christmas Eve signifying the birth of Jesus. The joyous celebration of Christmas, filled with poinsettias, piñatas, parades, and parties continues until February 2nd.
Toward the end of this educational video, I was struck by something that was said by the host. On February 2nd, when the Christmas season ends, they have a big party, and “put Jesus in brand new clothes and put Him away until next year.” (She was referring to the Jesus doll.) Please don’t misunderstand me here. I’m not knocking any other culture or tradition at all. But I was most certainly struck by the last part of her sentence when she said they “put Jesus away until next year.” Wow! I immediately thought, “Is this what we do?” In the United States, we get our Nativity scenes out, think about Jesus for a brief time, then put Him away until next year?
I must admit I was very convicted. My family doesn’t have a Nativity scene that we put out each year. This is not a tradition I grew up with as a kid either. But symbolically, I can identify with the notion. Christmas comes once a year. We decorate, trim the tree, sing Christmas songs, send religious Christmas cards, put on our Facebook pages that “Jesus is the Reason for the Season,” go to church on Christmas Eve, give gifts, etc. But when it’s all said and done, we put everything away until next year. The decorations, the cards, the gifts, the Christmas CDs, the Nativity scenes, and Jesus. What? Wait a minute. Do we really put Jesus away until next year?
I fear that for a lot of us, this is exactly what we do. Metaphorically, we put Jesus in the box, on the shelf, out of sight, and out of mind until next Christmas.
Check this out. There was a time when Jesus lived on Earth and “every day He was teaching at the Temple” (Luke 19:47). Did you catch that? Every day He was teaching. Interestingly enough, there were lots of people who wanted to kill Him, but they couldn’t figure out how to do it because “all the people hung on His words” (Luke 19:48). The people hung on His words. Every day.
Are you getting this? The people listened to Jesus teach every day…and hung on His words every day.
You see, if we treat the Jesus of the Nativity scene as something that we take out and put away only for a season, that’s exactly what He will be in our lives. An object. The reason for ONE season. But maybe we should consider Jesus as someone to learn from every day. Someone to hear from every day, whose words we can hang on every day.
Jesus is far more than the “reason for the season.” He’s the reason we have life…and have it abundantly. As Christmas approaches consider ways that you can hang on the words of Jesus every day. And consider how you can continue that discipline throughout the entire year.
Merry Christmas…or as they say in Mexico, Feliz Navidad!