A statue depicting Jesus as a vagrant sleeping on a park bench at St. Alban’s Episcopal Church in Davidson N.C. has evoked mixed reactions by the locals.
The church is in the middle of an upscale neighborhood and some residents don’t take kindly to vagrants sleeping on benches, Jesus included.
The sculpture is of a man huddled under a blanket with his face and hands obscured. At a short distance, it appears as a live human. A closer look at the shoeless feet reveal crucifixion wounds that identify the blanket covered body as Jesus.
Any depiction of Jesus is guaranteed to draw a diverse submission of opinions and this one is no different.
Some folks embraced it, some not so much so.
“One woman from the neighborhood actually called police the first time she drove by,” says David Boraks, editor of DavidsonNews.net. “She thought it was an actual homeless person.” Yes, this lady called the cops on Jesus.
Another resident said it was creepy. Jesus creepy? I wouldn’t want to be the owner of that statement on the day of reckoning.
In all seriousness, the bronze statue was purchased for $22,000 as a memorial for a parishioner, Kate McIntyre, who had loved public art.
The liberal point man of this inclusive church is Rev. David Buck. He is a 65-year-old Baptist-turned-Episcopalian who is not timid toward the controversy, gawking and the discussions the statue has provoked.
“It gives authenticity to our church. This is a relatively affluent church, to be honest, and we need to be reminded ourselves that our faith expresses itself in active concern for the marginalized of society.”
The sculpture is intended as a visual rendition of the passage in the Book of Matthew. In this passage, Jesus tells his disciples,
“As you did it to one of the least of my brothers, you did it to me.”
The sculpture is also a reminder that Jesus was one of meager means and possessions.
Furthermore, it now exists as a reminder to us all, to check the feet of sleeping vagrants before rousting them or calling the cops. You never know, you just never know.