“It gives authenticity to our church,” he says. “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 translation of the passage in the Book of Matthew, in which Jesus tells his disciples, “as you did it to one of the least of my brothers, you did it to me.” Moreover, Buck says, it’s a good Bible lesson for those used to seeing Jesus depicted in traditional religious art as the Christ of glory, enthroned in finery.
“We believe that that’s the kind of life Jesus had,” Buck says. “He was, in essence, a homeless person.”
If you can ignore the explicit assumption that the relative startlement of a wealthy community has any bearing on the theological value of the effort, which I believe is only a failure of NPR’s confidence in accruing clicks without a nod to fashionable-but-unserious rebelliousness, then it is an excellent piece of journalism.