Listening to the Sunday programme on Radio 4 this morning there was an item about this sculpture, a homeless Jesus sleeping on a bench by Timothy B Schmalz. The programme is asking for suggestions as to where the Sculpture might be placed. One of the obvious places is St Martin’s in the Fields, a church with a long tradition of ministering among the homeless. They do not want it for several reasons including because it could be seen as in contravention of their policy of no one lying down in their church or grounds (see below for link to discussion on this), also because it is a bit like bringing coals to Newcastle and because it objectifies those the church are trying to help.
So where would be a good home for this provocative art work? An image of a man covered in a blanket with bare, holed feet in a semi-foetal position . Perhaps in one sense it is the same place as those things that are helpful, truthful, and in my values affect how I see God and how I treat the disadvantaged. The sculpture draws its inspiration from the parable of the Sheep and the Goats in Matthew 25 where Jesus says if we minister to the poor, the homeless, the hungry, the imprisoned, we are ministering to him. For me it feels wise to let my heart and actions be unsettled by such an image and I ask myself the question “Does the homeless Jesus find a welcome and home in my life and actions?”
See http://www.sculpturebytps.com/large-bronze-statues-and-sculptures/religious-statues/statues-of-jesus/homeless-jesus/ for more details of the sculpture
See http://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2014/19-september/news/uk/sculptor-can-find-no-place-to-lay-his-bench-in-london for some of the debate about it