November 29, 2015: “The Homeless Jesus”

Posted on : Nov 24th, 2015 | By | Category: This Sunday's Service

This summer when I was back visiting my family in Buffalo, NY, my sister-in-law told me about a new sculpture that was getting a lot of attention and causing some controversy called “Homeless Jesus.” Of course I wanted to see it!

The sculpture portrays Jesus as a Homeless man, sleeping on a bench, wrapped in a religious prayer shawl. It is stunning and it really got me thinking.

Most of the time we think of Jesus as safely housed, a clean shaven, nice guy whom you would definitely invite to your home for dinner or a party. Seldom do we think of Jesus as a homeless person.

Well, in fact, Jesus was homeless. Chronically homeless. He was born in a barn because his parents didn’t have the cash for a room at the inn. Shortly thereafter, his family fled to Egypt to save him from Herod’s tyranny. In his adult life, he never had a home and was always dependent on others to offer him hospitality. But even though we know all that, we seldom think of Jesus as “homeless.” I mean, a real homeless person.

This morning as I was coming in to church, there was a homeless man sitting on the front steps of my building. He was quite out of it and had urinated on himself through his pants. The urine was running down our front steps. He and the area around him smelled awful! Having spent time earlier in the morning preparing my thoughts for this Sunday’s service about “How and Where Christ Is Coming into Our Lives this Advent?,” I had to really stop and ask myself if I was serious about beginning this Advent with the idea of Jesus coming to us as a homeless person.

This guy confirmed my belief that if Christ were coming to us today, he might well come as a homeless person and 99% of us would walk right by him. We might pretend he didn’t exist. We might look over at him and pity him. But I’ll bet few of us, myself included, would think, “Oh, that’s Jesus!”

The wonderful people of St. Paul’s Cathedral in Buffalo, NY – an Episcopal Church in the heart of the busy hub of downtown – donated the “Homeless Jesus” sculpture to the people of the City as a reminder of who Christ is and who Christ came to serve.

The sculpture itself is more than humbling. It is placed along a walk way where homeless people line up for food that the church distributes, like our sack lunches, except it is also adjacent to a lovely public park. When you walk through the Park and come upon this figure sleeping on the bench, you’re absolutely sure it is a real homeless person sleeping there. And like most people, as I came upon him, I backed away. It’s only when you get closer that you realize this homeless person is Jesus. And this Jesus is a bronze sculpture.

The message is clear. We often don’t see Jesus as he is; and that is why we celebrate Advent each year. Advent is the time of year in which we look in new places for where Christ may be coming into our lives and world at this time in our lives.

This Advent we’re going to be looking at four different ways that Christ might be coming to us in our lives and in our world today:

As the Homeless Jesus

As an immigrant/refugee child [the Good Samaritan Syrian]

As a boy or a girl? [Would Jesus come to us today as a boy or a girl???]

As a child in Donald Trump’s family

Blessings to you this Advent, as we look for the places where Christ is coming into our lives and world. Who knows what may be born within us this Advent?



~ This Sunday’s Scripture ~

Luke 2: 1-7

In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

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