Niall Cooper: What if God was one of us?
Is it time one of our most beloved and iconic Advent/Christmas traditions – the Nativity scene – had a makeover? Beyond the schmaltz, faux crib, stable and animals, can we really face the fact that God’s was born into a homeless family?
A couple of years ago, an alternative nativity scene which portrayed Mary and Joseph as 21st Century homeless people caused a stir with residents of a North Devon village. The life-sized scene, in the window of a derelict shop on Chulmleigh’s Fore Street, showed two faceless adults huddled around a fire in an urban back-alley while the baby Jesus lies sleeping in a shopping basket. The scene was completed by a cardboard box containing sleeping bags, copies of The Big Issue strewn across the floor and a brick wall with graffiti reading “What if God was one of us?” Alongside was Jesus’ quote from Matthew’s gospel: “Foxes have holes and birds have nests, but the son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”
On the same tack, the Railway Children charity placed nine nativity cribs in high profile locations across London, as part of a campaign designed to highlight the plight of thousands of children surviving on Britain’s streets without care. The nine cribs represented the fact that there are just nine beds available nationwide, for the estimated 100,000 children who end up living rough each year, 30,000 of which are aged 12 or younger…
This is an extract from the December 2013/January 2014 edition of Reform.