Saturday, September 03, 2016
Grade A Hypocrites?
A couple of Sundays ago I preached on a passage from Luke where Jesus calls some religious leaders hypocrites. Jesus used that term seventeen times in the gospels, which is a lot, all considered. He was not impressed by those who liked to strut their religious stuff but didn't live their faith when it came to compassion and kindness.
I told the congregation that I couldn't speak for them but I offered a number of ways in which I'm hypocritical. Most of us have occasions when we're just not "walking the walk."
On our drive home from London, Ontario, last Sunday afternoon I heard a repeat episode of the CBC program called Tapestry. It was an interview with Canadian sculptor. Timothy Schmalz, whose life-size piece called Homeless Jesus has been installed in locations around the world, including in Washington D.C. and at the Vatican. It is a brilliant piece because all that is visible of the human being is the feet, with the nail holes of the crucifixion. The figure is slight, so could be either male or female.
I was surprised to hear that for all the acclaime, Homeless Jesus has been rejected by prominent churches including St. Michael’s Cathedral in Toronto and St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York. St. Martin's in the Fields in London, Great Britain said no as well. Homeless people are not allowed to sleep in Trafalgar Square, so the church felt it would be hypocritical to have a sculpture of a homeless person in front of the church. Another church near the Houses of Parliament offered to host it, but the Borough of Westminster kiboshed the proposal.
I wonder what reaction we would get if we had the opportunity to install the sculpture here at Bridge St. We feed people all the time -- likely 10,000 meals through our three programs this year. These folk aren't homeless for the most part, but many of them are at the margins.
Would we be unsettled by a homeless Christ in our midst? Are we more comfortable with a "sweet Jesus?" If we are, does that make us Grade A Hypocrites?