Members gathered inside the illuminated church to witness the celebration of Las Posadas, a ceremony that took place for the first time at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Lodi on Friday evening.

According to Associate Pastor Nelson Rabell, Las Posadas originated in Mexico and was a tradition adopted by Catholic missionaries, but has been practiced by many Lutheran and evangelical churches to be more inclusive towards Latino parishioners.

“The story that is told is one of hospitality and unity, as a congregation and a church we look to send the message of peace, love, and compassion,” said Rabell.

A longtime parishioner, Sharon Seegmiller, was eager to witness the event for the first time.

“I don’t know anything about Las Posadas, but I am interested to see it, and how piñatas and other elements of it come into the Mass,” said Seegmiller.

The event includes many cultural elements that are integral to the Mexican culture and celebration.

“We have piñatas that the children hit which is meant to mark the coming of the three wise men and the gifts that they bring,” said Rabell.

Las Posadas is a reenactment of Jesus’ parents, Mary and Joseph on their quest to find lodging as they look to escape the cold and are turned away by numerous innkeepers before finding a stable for Mary to give birth in.

“There are eight stations meant to represent the inns Mary and Joseph went to before being allowed refuge at the stable,” Rabell said.

The evening was accompanied by joyous music that narrated the events. The performance consisted of both Spanish and English hymns that the group sang as Mary and Joseph walked throughout the church.

“It is nice that we are able to come together as a community and create a blended family of worship,” said Seegmiller.

The evening concluded with a sermon and a shared meal that consisted of traditional Mexican cuisine.

“We normally serve pazole and bunuelos but we went with ceviche, in order to be more inclusive to people that do not eat meat,” said Sandra Vargas, a parishioner at St. Paul.

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