Posts Tagged ‘Child Jesus’

CLAREMONT, Calif. (AP) – A Southern California church nativity scene is featuring a bloody Trayvon Martin in place of the infant Jesus in an effort to stir a community conversation about gun violence.

The nativity scene on the lawn of the Claremont United Methodist Church – which shows Martin in a hoodie, slumped over and bleeding – was created by 57-year-old congregant and artist John Zachary.

Zachary, who in the past has created installations addressing homelessness and poverty, said he wanted to make the Nativity relevant to modern times and generate a community conversation, the Los Angeles Times reported on Sunday ( ).

Zachary said he chose to focus on the Florida teenager whose shooting death captured the nation to draw a parallel to the dark times in which Jesus was born.

But some faithful have shuddered at the depiction and called it sacrilege.

Retiree Viola Saunders, who stopped and took some pictures of the scene with her phone, said she thought the Nativity was too sacred to modify.

“It’s pretty bad,” she told the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin. “It takes away from the original.”

Lead pastor Rev. Sharon Rhodes-Wickett said the church 35 miles east of Los Angeles is a progressive community where many congregants seek to challenge their minds, and hearts, but she can understand if some find the depiction “too edgy.”

“It’s hard to look at a young man who’s shot and bleeding to death. But even though I’m uncomfortable with it, that’s the point,” she told the Daily Bulletin. “We have to take a look at the violence.”

The scene will remain in place at the church through Jan. 5.


Information from: Los Angeles Times,

sheep“In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.”—Matthew 18:14

A good place to start our labor of loving our neighbor is with our little neighbors: children— abused, bullied, orphaned, trampled-in-war-zones, failing-in-school children. There are many places where we can help—schools, libraries, hospitals, social agencies, churches, and more. We can also help as we do our daily work.

One day there was a family at the library counter as the librarian told them their outstanding fine was past the limit where they could take out more books. The father didn’t have enough money; the kids looked disappointed that they couldn’t take out books. Then the librarian found a solution: “Pay what you can now to get below the fine limit, and you may borrow the books.” Joy returned and learning continued because of a loving use of the rules.

Our idea of loving our neighbors grows when we remember that “these little ones” are all who follow Jesus like a child. Jesus explains the reverse math of his kingdom with his story of the lost sheep. We could rationalize that one percent loss on a hundred sheep is not bad, but the Good Shepherd risks all to go after one lonely, lost sheep. That logic could get us into some hard, hopeless situations, but today’s verse provides hope, for our “Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.”

day after christmasAnd he gave him the name Jesus.—Matthew 1:25

Here another piece is added to the Christmas story. The angel tells Joseph that the child should be called Jesus. Matthew sees that this birth is a fulfillment of the Isaiah 7:14 prophecy: “‘The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel’ (which means ‘God with us’).”

But Matthew does not mention Isaiah. The angel had already covered that when he told Joseph, “Do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.” Obedient to this word from the Lord, Joseph takes Mary as his wife, the baby arrives, and Joseph names the child “Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

What are we hearing from Matthew that we did not hear from Luke?

We hear that our troubles are greater than the darkness and problems that come to us from the outside. We have added to the mess we are in by our own sins and failures, and we need to be saved from our sins.

Is it not true that the warm and giving spirit of Christmas wears down quickly as it meets the realities of living in a harsh world? Our children have likely already fought over new toys. And what about you—have you already had an argument, or said a harsh word?

The angel has good news for us: God is with us in Jesus, who came to save us from our sins, are you still taking advantage of it, or have you forgotten the gift after a mere two days?