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Dear Brothers and Sisters:
May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ who came to the world to give us the gift of Salvation, be with you now and always.
During these days in which we remember the birth of our Lord and Savior, we want to share with you some of the celebrations that are carried out in the ILAG and Guatemala as part of our faith and culture.
The celebrations begin with a slightly radical tradition called "the burning of the devil," which consists of all the families taking saved items that aren't useful anymore, or garbage, and burning them. The burning is a symbol of the things that we save in our lives, emotional things, mistakes, etc., that are no longer useful and that we hope to discard. This celebration takes place on December 7th.
We continue on December 12th with the celebration of the Virgin, and this is the day that the Posadas begin. The Posadas are the reenactment of when Mary and Joseph were looking for a place to rest as they arrived in Bethlehem. These are processions in which a float is carried, with statues of Mary and Joseph tied down on them. Upon arriving at a house, "posada" (a place to rest) is requested, the story of Joseph and Mary is read, some prayers are said, and then a traditional snack is eaten.
On December 24th, worship takes place at night. Later the families go home to continue the celebration, which is a dinner at midnight with prayers remembering the birth of Jesus, and opening gifts exactly at midnight. Fireworks are set off, and the celebration ends at 3 or 4 a.m. Children and adults are present.
These celebrations are held in all of the ILAG churches, and families gather because the principal foundation is to be together as family, remembering that God became man by way of his son Jesus Christ, in spite of the weak, sinning, egotists that we are. He came to give salvation to all, no matter one's religion, ethnicity, or beliefs. The most important thing that we remember, in his coming to this world as an act of love, is the unconditional love that only God can give us.
We wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and a New Year full of blessings.
Karen Castillo & the Pastoral Team
Iglesia Luterana Agustina de Guatemala