Oklahoma Conference of the United Methodist Church

Las Posadas Service: Christmas programming gets Hispanic flavor at Enid-New Hope

1/19/2018

BY HOLLY MCCRAY
ENID, Okla. — Seeking shelter, the Holy Family found more than symbolic refuge at Enid’s New Hope United Methodist Church at Christmas time.
First, the church hosted Las Posadas on Dec. 17. In the Hispanic tradition, especially in Mexico, this engaging “service of shelter” celebrates the safe haven finally found by the refugee family as Mary and Joseph anticipated Jesus’ birth.
In addition, New Hope held a real baby shower that month — with online gift registry for “the baby Jesus” — and an unused classroom in the church is becoming a freshly painted and stocked nursery to welcome today’s children.
Participants in the Las Posadas event got to see that project’s progress, according to Pastor Emily Robnett.
In costume, Brian Percy as Joseph and Haleigh Rogers as Mary led the indoor journey to three classrooms staged as inns, where they sought lodging. People carried candles and sang carols, accompanied by a guitarist.
They were rejected at each stop.  
They reached the church’s narthex — and received from that “innkeeper” a generous welcome that included a feast.
The choir performed; the sacred story was read. “Silent Night” was sung in three languages: English, Spanish, and American Sign Language.
Enid-New Hope members wanted new programming for Christmas 2017, Robnett said.
“We know the story, but it’s another thing to take part in it. It comes alive in a different way” through Las Posadas. Find the service in The United Methodist Book of Worship.
“I like the idea of introducing” how non-white people recognize and celebrate the Holy Family to a mainly white congregation, she added.
She’s known about Las Posadas since childhood.
Robnett was appointed to pastor Enid-New Hope in June. But she grew up attending Ada-First United Methodist Church, which has presented Las Posadas for 18 years, according to Roberto Escamilla, retired clergyman.
He said the Ada church welcomed more than 100 participants for Las Posadas last month — and the feasting included homemade tamales.
Rev. Dr. Escamilla is credited in the Book of Worship as part of the team that revised Las Posadas for United Methodist use.
Robnett said the service at Ada-First was “almost magical” for her as a child.
The presentation at Enid-New Hope was “a loaves-and-fishes moment,” she said. About 40 people were expected; 70 turned up.
“There ended up being enough for everybody.”
The service complemented furnishing the nursery space, and the church now has welcomed a newborn, Robnett said in early January.
“If you want children, there must be a place for them. That was a first step in revitalizing a church that is ready to grow.”

 

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