Dec 25, 2013

Feliz Navidad 2013

Parents and children at our preschool Christmas party.

We wish everyone a most blessed Christmas and a happy New Year.

Friday, November 29, 2013, was the date of our Christmas party for the preschool children and their parents. The preschool Christmas celebration was early this year because of important nationwide elections scheduled for December 8. All schools were closed the week before December 8. The children sang “Din, din, din”, a traditional Venezuelan Christmas carol that they had practiced for their parents. It tells of Joseph and Mary preparing to leave on their journey to Bethlehem.

Youth from La Caramuca and Barinas
The elections also were the reason we celebrated the second Sunday of Advent the Saturday before December 8.After the service there were special activities involving young people from La Caramuca and Corpus Christi Lutheran Church in Barinas.

On Dec. 8, municipal elections were held across Venezuela. The ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela claimed more votes overall than its opposition, but the opposition won key mayoral seats in Venezuela's population centers, including Caracas, Maracaibo, Valencia and Barquisimeto (Venezuela's four largest cities) as well as San Cristobal, Maturin and Barinas.

Hospitalized children receive gifts.Luz Maria, Elias, Karelis and Yepci
On Thursday, Dec. 19, Luz Maria, her daughter, Yepci Santana, and grandchildren, Karelis Santana and Elias Montoya, delivered a box of toys, cookies, clothing and shoes to children hospitalized for the duration of the Christmas holidays at Dr. Luis Razetti General Hospital in Barinas. The clothing and shoes are because these children often are brought in from the surrounding countryside and hospitalized before their families can bring them additional clothes. The gifts were gathered from the people of La Caramuca and Corpus Christi Lutheran Church.

We celebrated Christmas Eve with a vespers service in which we sang villancicas, or Spanish Christmas carols. On Sunday morning, Dec. 29, we will have our Divine Service in honor of Christ's birth. As always, we struggle with a cultural tendency, even among otherwise faithful church-goers, to treat the Christmas and Easter holidays simply as time off to travel to the beach or the mountains.

Luz Maria had gone to town to look for recordings of villancicas to play for the preschool children. However, she had difficulty finding any such CDs. Many people that she talked to were unaware of Venezuela's rich tradition of Christmas music and tried to offer her recordings of “musica cristiana”, the Spanish equivalent of what's called “contemporary Christian music” in the United States. As in North America, this amounts to pop music marketed as “Christian” without sound doctrinal content.

The heritage of Venezuelan villancicas or aguinaldos (another word for Christmas carol) stems from the Misa de Aguinaldos, a special mass celebrated throughout December at four or five in the morning, featuring the singing of these songs. In times gone by, the Misa de Aguinaldos often was preceded by the patinata, a communitywide roller-skating party in the town square with food, beverages and fireworks. Much of this traditional holiday observance has disappeared, or is in the process of diappearing. Our intent is not to conserve cultural tradition for its own sake, but to use the best of that tradition to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
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