December 16, Wednesday                                            Light and Joy at Christmas

1 John 1:4-7 (NRSV)

We are writing these things so that our joy may be complete. This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him while we are walking in darkness, we lie and do not do what is true; but if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

Latino food – up-tempo music – lively chatter – kids laughing and playing – different Spanish-language accents spoken – and piles and piles of shoes! – all taking place in our home.  For Sue and me, this is Christmas in Fredericksburg, Virginia.

Held the Sunday before Christmas, LUCHA Ministries’ Christmas party attracts many of our Latino friends and families.  We started hosting our party in a local community center.  Then we moved it to a local church.  Finally we realized what would make it even better: putting it in a home to create a family feel.

So after church on that chosen Sunday, we get our home ready: we locate the donated Legos, crayons and Christmas coloring sheets for the children; we bring up the folding tables for the mountains of food to be served; we bring in every movable chair we can find; and we bring out a Spanish-language Bible to read later.

Around 4:00 p.m., our guests start arriving.  At least 75 people eventually come, each bringing a dish native to their home country.  LUCHA provides the Christmas tamales – because it’s not Christmas without tamales! – while guests bring side dishes.  Once entering our home, they remove their shoes and put them at the door.  We don’t ask them to do it, but they do it out of respect and because it’s cultural.  Now, can you imagine the pile 75 pairs of shoes make!

And we spend the next four hours eating, talking, laughing, singing, and enjoying the time together.    

Not everyone who comes to the party attends church.  Most are Catholic, only a few are Baptist. But all who come bring the light of Christ.  They come to eat tortillas, pupusas, mole, and drink ponche.  They brag on each other’s food, and smile broadly when someone brags on theirs.  And when the story of Christ’s birth is read, we all listen intently, and bow our heads in thanksgiving to God.   

This is joy.  This is light.  This is Christmas. This is one way God privileges LUCHA Ministries to walk in Christ’s light, enjoy the fellowship of our Latino friends, and feel His cleansing blood flow over us again.

Reflection
With whom is God calling you to experience the light and joy of Christ this Advent season?

Prayer
God, dispel the darkness this Advent season as I experience Christ’s light and joy in the lives of those you bring my way.  Amen.

 

                                     By Greg Smith, CBF Field Personnel, Fredericksburg, Virginia
Fredericksburg Baptist Church, Virginia

 

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