Thoughts from Rev. Ana: Welcome

When you think of “welcome”, what image comes to your mind? Maybe you picture a doormat in front of someone’s house. Or maybe a “Welcome to Pennsylvania” sign when you cross into that state. My mind goes to an image we don’t see enough on the news – that is of our service men and women coming home to their families, and being received with long embraces.

Welcoming people was a big deal in the times of the Bible. That explains why there are eleven verbs in the Scriptures that can be translated as “to welcome.” In ancient times strangers depended on someone else’s hospitality. It was a basic rule that they were to be received with respect and kindness. It was also a spiritual exercise, because your guests brought something of God’s presence to you.

In the Hispanic tradition, there is a wonderful Advent tradition called “Las Posada”. The word “posada” means shelter. Adults and children take on the role of Mary and Joseph, and for nine nights prior to Christmas, they process through the neighborhood to stop at designated stations. These are homes that represent the innkeeper. At each encounter, they exchange ancient words.

Joseph says, “In the name of God, we ask those who dwell here to give some travelers lodging this evening.” And then, from the inside, voices say, “No, no! Move on! This is not an inn. We’re not going to open. You may turn out to be scoundrels.” Each evening the voices get louder. Then, on the 9th night, which is Christmas, the innkeeper finally opens up his stable, and his humble posada becomes the birthplace of Jesus.

Message from Rev. Ana: A Call to Fasting, Prayer, and Action

Dear friends in Christ,

I want to reach out to you to share two matters of concern and interest. The first is to ask you to please pray for the victims of the bomb attack in Manchester, England, last evening, and to ask for healing and hope for that country in shock. May God grant us grace and wisdom to live from the deepest conviction of our faith, that love triumphs over evil.

Second is ask you to consider joining in a movement called, "A Call to Fasting, Prayer, and Action". I, as your pastor and priest, signed on personally a few days ago, at the invitation of a faith based organization that I have admired for decades, but yesterday I was pleased to discover that both the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, and the Presiding Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church are asking their membership to consider becoming involved.

The focus of this intentional action is to stand with the poor and the powerless in the face of the deep budget cuts being proposed in Federal spending for programs that are essential to their (and our) lives. Health, food, housing, social services and education, are all slated to suffer hundreds of millions of dollars in cuts by the Congress, even as taxes are reduced for those who are well off.