Saturday, December 8, 2007

staying home

Perhaps I'm related to Scrooge or the Grinch. Just perhaps. Anyway, whether I'm related to one of them or not, I have chosen to stay home from a PCS friends and family Christmas party that starts in an hour. I wavered - there will be carol singing and cookies galore, but there will also be scads of people, including many kids. I'm not in the mood for that much noise and socializing.

We actually already had a Christmas party, just last night, in fact. That party was for PCS staff and the board members - adults only. Even with the invitation narrowed down, there were still times during the party when the noise of talking was overwhelming. There was plenty of tasty finger food available, since Jenna, the director's wife, had been preparing the goodies all day.

After returning from the party in the evening, Bethany and I took a walk up to the Catholic church on the hill to see if they had put up Christmas lights since the church on the pyramid in Cholula had put up lights. The church here hadn't, but some houses nearby had. We strolled around part of the neighborhood, searching for the perfect place to take a picture of the chapel capola, a "tree" of lights strung up one of the television broadcast towers, and the massive Mexican flag. No success on that front, but we did get a nice walk.

Today Janelle and I grocery shopped at Walmart early on to avoid the massive weekend crowds, and then I took care of some school business - still not lesson planning (that will be on tomorrow's agenda after church). Early in the afternoon, Bethany and I caught a bus to downtown so she could finish some Christmas shopping.

On Wednesday much of Mexico will be honoring the Virgin de Guadalupe. For this reason right now there are singles, couples, and groups of pilgrims walking through here

on their way to the Basilica in Mexico City. What a walk! As Bethany and I neared home this afternoon, we saw a particularly notable group of pilgrims wearily trudging down the street. They paused briefly for refreshment and rest before continuing the long trek. It's hard to see in the picture, but the young man with the white baseball cap has a glass case strapped to his back. In it is the image of the virgin. Many of the pilgrims have large framed paintings or images strapped to their backs as they walk. Downtown we passed an enclosure where an image of the virgin had been painstakingly created out of dyed rice and brown sugar.

I can't help but think of the contrasts in belief systems. Last night at the Christmas party, one of the board members talked about God's giving us the free gift of his Son Jesus. He came to earth as a humble baby, born in a stable and destined to die for our sins. A free gift. Salvation and a place in heaven for all eternity doesn't depend on us making a tiring, painful trek on foot each year to a center of worship. We don't have to carry any burdens on our backs as we process from home to the Basilica. Christmas is about celebrating or freedom in Christ. May these pilgrims find the same hope in Jesus, not the Virgin de Guadalupe.

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