Nativity as Art: When Jesus’ Birth Scene Is Used to Make Statements

ChurchLeaders | 12/9/2019 | Staff
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Many opinions have been shared about a United Methodist Church in California’s attempt at a statement via the church’s nativity scene. Claremont UMC’s nativity features Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus separated in individual cells surrounded by chain-link fence and barbed wire. The scene serves as a reminder of migrant families being separated at the U.S.-Mexico border. While the church’s nativity is provocative, it’s certainly not the first time a nativity has been used in an artistic way to provide social commentary.

“A nativity is the theological equivalent to public art, and the role of public art has always been to offer awareness,” Rev. Karen Clark Ristine of the Claremont, California church told the Washington Post. “Jesus taught us kindness and mercy and the radical welcome of all people,” she said. Rev. Ristine denies the scene was devised to make a political statement, although many are critical of the nativity because they believe it mixes politics and the church in an unpalatable way.

Plaque - Front - Nativity - Church - Explanation

On a plaque in front of the nativity, the church offers an explanation for what they are attempting to convey through the work of art:

In a time in our country when refugee families seek asylum at our borders and are unwillingly separated from one another, we consider the most well-known refugee family the world, Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, the Holy Family.

Birth - Jesus - Joseph - Mary

Shortly after the birth of Jesus, Joseph and Mary were forced to flee with their young...
(Excerpt) Read more at: ChurchLeaders
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