An introduction to POSADA

An introduction to the Mexican roots, the British take on the tradition, and what we did in Wymondham between 2011 and 2015. Scroll down for other resources including an Advent Liturgy, Dialogue (or two Monologues), Prayer and Hymn.

Introduction to the Posada Experience

Booklet EV114 in the Grove Evangelism series was co-authored by myself and Rev Susanna Gunner (Anglican Priest and currently Chaplain to the Bishop of Norwich) on the subject of Posada.  It contains case studies from both Susanna and myself, theological reflections and practical pointers and resources.  It can be viewed, and bought, from: https://grovebooks.co.uk or on Amazon (search for 'Hosting Mary and Joseph').

Mexican tradition

Posadas are based on a Mexican tradition in which children dress up as Mary and Joseph and, for nine days before Christmas, go round with a crowd trying to find lodging.

At each home, a song is sung back and forth between Joseph and householder.  No room can be found until the final destination when there is a warm welcome and a party!

More information can be found by searching for ‘Las Posadas’ on the internet.  The words of the song are easily found.

Posada in this country

The tradition was introduced into this country and promoted by the Church Army.  Each Advent now, across Britain, small figures of Mary and Joseph travel around communities staying a day and a night with one host before moving on to the next. Benefits include the development of community, awareness of the biblical story of the journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem, and – in a mysterious way – an experience of God’s love and peace that comes from simply having the figures in the home or other space.

Outreach Posada in Wymondham

In Wymondham, we used 3’ 6” and 4 ft high figures of Mary and Joseph (made of a material called ‘correx’) and sent them round shops, schools, care homes, other public buildings and private homes during the whole of Advent. Extra benefits from this 'outreach' approach were 1. Biblical characters had an impact in public spaces in a culturally acceptable as well as thought-provoking way. 2. Relationships were built up between myself (and/or the small team that transported Mary & Joseph) and the hosts, some of whom were visited every year.  Each host had Mary and Joseph for the whole of, or part of, 24 hours.  Our nativity friends liked to meet as many people as possible so when they were on public display they are very happy.  A journal, completed by the hosts at the end of the visit, documented the journey. 

Maximising the benefits

A very important way of maximising the benefits that developed was the use of photographs.  A picture was taken in each place and these were used on Facebook (Mary & Joseph having their own page), Twitter, and the church website. The journey was also documented on the latter so that anyone could find out where the figures were on any particular day. We encouraged church members to pray for the journey in general, and for the day’s hosts in particular, in the belief that the Holy Spirit would use our Posada in ways that we would probably never know.

A concrete benefit during the 5 years, was an increased interest in, and attendance at, our Carol Service.  We held this on the evening of Christmas Eve and invited all our hosts and anyone else who had been following the journey. Mary and Joseph came into church and were joined by their baby at a suitable point in the service.

Resources

Under this section of the website, there is an Advent Liturgy and a hymn that can be used separately, or together, as well as monologues that can be used in complementary worship. In the Photo section there is an Album showing a selection of the best photos that were taken in Wymondham over the 5 year period (2011 – 2015).  

Results

Although the figures were made out of corrugated plastic and, although the exercise might be seen to be just a bit of fun (and it usually was fun!), the results were often  surprising and gratifying. Hosts of Mary & Joseph were taken by surprise as it made a substantial difference to their day to have the biblical figures in their home or school or shop or workplace. People were often touched by a sense of God's presence as if the real Mary and Joseph had been there. The figures became sacramental - 'An outward sign of an inward reality'. Combined with the relationships that were built up between the Church and members of the community - this was one of the most successful mission initiatives the Church undertook in this period.


Prayer for Posada host for congregational use
An expanded Posada prayer that enables the Christian community to pray for each day's Posada hosts.

Prayer for ourselves using Mary & Joseph
A short Advent prayer drawing on what happened to Mary & Joseph.

The Journey
This is two monologues in one. Mary and Joseph can either say their speech one after the other or alternate the parts.

Advent Liturgy
This liturgy to be used with lighting Advent candles accompanies a congregation on a Posada journey.

Hymn: 'Mary and Joseph'
This 5 verse hymn can be used as it stands or in conjunction with the Advent Liturgy, one verse added each week.