Saturday, December 25, 2010

A blessed Christmas

Midnight Christmas. The fireworks are going off. (Oh, how they love fireworks here!)

I am in Gracias, Lempira, for Christmas. I spent the afternoon with Sisters Nancy Meyerhofer and Brenda Whetstone, two Franciscan sisters from Dubuque, talking, playing dominoes, and having a great dinner. Nancy's s great cook. And I lost really bad in dominoes!

After dinner the lights went off three times, but finally came on in time for the 9:00 PM Mass, which was moving - with a good homily by Padre Loncho.

Before Mass I noticed the Saint Joseph figure they use in the Nativity here. What struck me is that Joseph seems Honduran - not one of the indigenous Hondurans, but definitely Honduran in my eyes. (I'm sure the straw hat helps.) It reminds me that Christ was borne among real people - and that we are called, as Padre Loncho noted - to let Christ be borne where we live.

At the end of Mass some of the altar servers sang some villancios, folksy Christmas songs. They then did a beautiful Nativity scene - with a real baby. One of the young girls sang a beautiful song.

At the end of Mass, the figures of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph were taken from in front of the altar and placed in the Nacimiento, the Nativity creche, at the back of the church. Nancy told me that several base communities in the parish took three days to prepare it. The nacimiento was marvelous with many scenes from daily life here in Gracias, as well as little signs designating the various ministries and base communities of the parish. Even Lempira, the indigenous hero who was killed by the Spaniards, is there.

Christ is made flesh - here and now - among the poor.

That's the parish church - San Marcos.

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