MEXICO - It is 9:50 a.m. Wednesday and already the Grace United Methodist Church parking lot is full.
Inside the basement, women and men chat around tables laden with tea, coffee, snacks and fresh sticky buns. The crowd of 70 people laugh and joke and wave at old friends who come to Mexico just for the annual Lenten teas.
But behind the food and fellowship is a group of faithful men and women who have gathered to celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ for 48 years in the little Juniata County village.
The tradition began in 1962 with six women at Grace UMC, said Dottie Wilson, one of the organizers. Today, between 60 and 70 women and men attend the weekly services.
"All those (founding) women would look down and say what a great job we're doing now," Wilson said, noting how much the group has grown.
Madelyn Landis, the only one of the six founders still living, continues to attend the teas regularly; she was honored for her dedication on Wednesday and presented with flowers.
Grace Bair led the group on Wednesday by retelling the story of Mary and Martha from Luke 10:38-42.
With the book study "The Common People Heard Him Gladly" by James W. Moore, the tea goers examined Martha's attitude and how it applied to their lives.
Martha was so excited for Jesus' visit, Bair said. She swept and dusted and cooked, making sure every detail was perfect for the Lord. But when Jesus arrived, her sister Mary rushed to welcome him while Martha remained preparing food in the kitchen, she said.
"She gets agravated, stressed out, and was probably mumbling, 'Where's Mary? Leaving me here to do the work,'" Bair said.
When Martha approached Jesus about her sister, he rebuked her for her attitudes, Bair explained. Martha's attitude was resentful, unkind and narrowminded, she said.
"Take a little time this week to be aware of your attitudes," Bair encouraged the group. "Ask God to help you become more like him."
Along with the lesson, the group joined together in song with "There is Power in the Blood" and "At Calvary." Before and after the lesson, everyone bowed their heads in prayer.
Some have come from Middleburg and a car full drives up from Harrisburg every Lent to participate, Wilson said. Everyone is welcome to participate in the annual event, she said.