Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Semana Santa Pt4 - The Reality...

All in all I will say that the Week of Semana Santa and the weeks before were very interesting. During the procession themselves I was most intrigued with the diversity of the participants involved with the various events. No matter what your place in life you can find what you are looking for in these processions.

You had your folks carrying the andes (floats), they were very committed at least when they weren't talking on their cellphones. You then have the periphial folks. These are the musicians, the people picking up the flowers that weren't destroyed when the andes traveled over them, the clean up crews and vehicles immediately behind the given procession. You have the touristy bystanders watching and waiting to see if the 7,000 lbs wooden platform is going to crush the people carrying it. And just when you are in the peak of the religous experience you can satisfy your yearning for cotton candy or a balloon to have as a keep sake of this holy personal experience.

But by far the most disturbing element of these events is the fact that the Sculptures - Imágenes have become more than a tool to tell the story of Christ. These are the religious sculptures that were made during the Spanish rule and can date back to the 17th century. The faithful believe that the sculptures, or the figure, will grant the believer their request. In some places in Guatemala, the sculptures are considered to be divine religious figures. The sculptures are referred to as the religious figure not as a just a sculpture. The sculptures also played a principal role in the conversion of the Maya to Catholicism as the Maya personified the sculptures with the stories of their own deities.

This enormous religous gathering that draws as many as 500,000 people to the streets of Antigua alone is an idols on parade event. The stronghold that Satan has for this city and country is perpetuated in this event. Underneath the goodness of community involvement, benefit of economic support to the community, and the publicity this event brings to this part of the world, is a darkness that has been brewing for the better part of 400 years. A bond that only the strength of God and his forces will ever be able to break.

There is a beacon of hope that I saw this year. It is my understanding that the method of the Sunday procession was unique and had never been done in previous years. Whether that is true or not I do not know. But this year I witnessed one of the most uplifting processions that I had ever seen.

The andes with a risen Christ was being carried through a small section of Antigua. But the more significant element was that it was surrounded by a crowd of people singing and dancing and praising God that he was alive. He had Risen! The worship team with guitars and drums was playing through a sound sytem on a truck using a generator. It was refreshing to see Christ shine through the darkness.

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