The Advent Journey to Christmas 

By Dean Edgardo Colón-Emeric, Dean of Duke Divinity School, Irene and William McCutchen Associate Professor of Reconciliation and Theology, and Director of the Center for Reconciliation

The Advent journey to the Christmas season is guided by the Spirit who spoke through prophets like Isaiah and by the songs of God’s people. One of these songs I learned from the Metodista community that I pastored in Durham, the “Canto para pedir posada.” Translated as “A song to plead for lodging,” this song forms the centerpiece of the Advent tradition of Las Posadas, practiced across Latin America and among Latinx communities in the United States.

“Canto para pedir posada” is sung around the closed door of a home. One group takes the part of Mary and Joseph and call from the outside, while the owners of the house respond from within. Echoing the holy family’s journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem, outsiders seek shelter and are regarded with suspicion by insiders. Eventually, refusal gives way to recognition of the Word that Mary bears. The doors open and a “new we” is born as all share in food, fellowship, and fiesta with piñatas.

Singing the “Canto para pedir posada” in the streets of Durham oriented my congregation’s Advent journey. It was more than a commemoration of a picturesque Gospel story but rather a commitment to listen to the cry of those who seek posada, even if what we had to offer was as humble as a blanket on a bare floor. Refugees and immigrants walk the same road trod by Mary and Joseph. In opening our doors and dreams to them, we welcome Christ.

The meditations that you read from the Duke Divinity community summon us to join the “canto para pedir posada.” They are Advent postcards, markers of mercy, Pentecost piñatas. May this time of shared reflection help us rediscover the hospitality of God and the “new we” that comes from asking and offering posada.

Read more advent reflections from Duke Divinity faculty (pdf)

Each advent season, the offices of Duke Divinity decorate a window in the cloister hallway.
Each Advent season, the various offices of Duke Divinity decorate a window in the cloister hallway with seasonal decor. 

Many members of the Duke Divinity School community are reflecting on Advent and celebrating Christmas with unique traditions. Find more Advent content: 

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