Last week, a church in California started a Facebook-wide conversation after they created a political statement out of their church-front nativity scene.
At the Claremont United Methodist Church in Southern California, the church family arranged their nativity scene for the Christmas season. But instead of the traditional manger scene known worldwide, they presented Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus in separate cages to mirror the present issues at the U.S. border.
After the display was completed, the Senior Minister from the church, Karen Clark Ristine, shared a picture of it on Facebook, alongside a lengthy description of the societal implications of the display, as well as the biblical ties to their creation of the display.
â€œThe theological statement posted with the nativity: 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 in the world. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, the Holy Family.â€
Ristine then went on to further compare the holy family with refugees held captive and separated at the U.S. border, claiming that if the holy family were to appear at our border, they wouldnâ€™t find the protection and support they needed.
â€œShortly after the birth of Jesus, Joseph and Mary were forced to flee with their young son from Nazareth to Egypt to escape King Herod, a tyrant. They feared persecution and death.”
“What if this family sought refuge in our country today?â€
Finally, Ristine really drove the analogy home, citing Jesus at no more than two years of age among the 5,500 cited children that have been held at the U.S. border.
â€œImagine Joseph and Mary separated at the border and Jesus no older than two taken from his mother and placed behind the fences of a Border Patrol detention center as more than 5,500 children have been the past three years.â€
Ristineâ€™s post culminated ultimately into a call-to-action to take care of our neighbors, our loved ones, and those in need. She explained that they brought their message home at Claremont United by showing the holy family in separate cages outside the church, and united in a beautiful nativity scene in the sanctuary of the church.
“Jesus grew up to teach us kindness and mercy and a radical welcome of all people.”
“He said: ‘I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.’ Matthew 25:35”