A church in California has depicted a bleeding Trayvon Martin in its Nativity scene, a call that “we have to take a look at the violence” in our society, the pastor said.
The display outside Claremont United Methodist Church, about 30 miles east of Los Angeles, features a life-sized representation of the slain teen in a black hoodie, doubled over with a stream of blood coming from his chest.
It’s the work of John Zachary, who has created the church’s Nativity scenes for the past several years. He’s depicted Mary and Joseph as a modern-day homeless couple; as Mexicans stopped by the U.S.-Mexico border fence; as Iraq War refugees; and in 2010, just Mary by herself, as a black woman in prison with her baby, the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin reported.
“I’ve tried to make them contemporary issues that are provocative as they relate to the Nativity story,” Zachary said in an interview posted on YouTube. “I think that from our privileged point of view we’ve come to see the Nativity as a representation of something that is comfortable and present and wonderful in our life and I want to make it something that Jesus would have taught and something that is thought-provoking and something that is a contemporary issue about social justice.”
He said this year’s scene, “A Child is Born, a Son is Given,” is relevant as part of the conversation about gun violence, but also relates to the Nativity story because of the biblical narrative of the killing of infants under King Herod.
“As we celebrate the birth of Christ I think it’s important that we think about all those that don’t have the privilege to celebrate with us,” Zachary said.
Sharon Rhodes-Wickett, the church’s lead pastor, told the Daily Bulletin that the Nativity scene calls everyone to ponder the question, “What does the birth of Christ call us to do?”
“I found this year’s hard to look at. It’s hard to look at a young man who’s shot and bleeding to death. But even though I’m uncomfortable with it, that’s the point,” Rhodes-Wickett told the newspaper. “We have to take a look at the violence.”
His 2011 Nativity display included depictions of gay couples and was vandalized and investigated by police as a hate crime.
For this year’s scene, which went up at the beginning of December and will come down Jan. 5, Zachary told the Daily Bulletin there hasn’t been much of a public response.
“I thought this would be more controversial, but I come to find out people don’t really like people gettin’ shot,” he told the newspaper. “They may not agree what to do about it, but they agree it’s a bad thing.”