Trayvon Martin and the Nativity?

trayvon

What do baby Jesus and Trayvon Martin have in common?  Violence.  “Jesus was born into a state of total vulnerability as an innocent unarmed child during a time of great violence much like Trayvon Martin… As a result, the original Christmas was a time of great grief and agony for many children and parents,” reads the sign posted near the artist John Zachary’s nativity scene.

Claremont United Methodist Church in Claremont, California has decided to put the issue of gun violence on display along with the birth of Jesus Christ reports the Huffington Post in a recent article.  Apparently, Advent ’tis the season as “there is no better time to reflect on gun violence.”  Using a depiction of a bleeding Trayvon Martin, an American son given to the idol of gun violence, the church hopes to attack the myth of redemptive violence, remind Christians that they should identify with the victims of violence and challenge them to commit to peace on earth.

When I first posted this story on December 27, 2013, I did not provide my position.  I feel it necessary to do so now (January 2, 2014) as it has been assumed that I endorse the scene.  I do not.

While Trayvon’s death was tragic, he does not represent the life, ministry or atoning sacrifice that Jesus Christ made on behalf of humanity.  I do not support any image of Christ being depicted in a nativity scene or otherwise. Trayvon’s blood did not do for me what Christ’s did and the racialized reasons for which some believe he died do not reflect the reason for which Christ died for humanity.  Jesus died out of love (John 3.16).   He died once for all (Romans 6.10; First Peter 3.18; Hebrews 9.28).  Christ’s blood covered our sins as our substitute and our sacrificial lamb (First Corinthians 5.7). Trayvon’s blood sadly only covered the sidewalk.

And no one took Jesus’ life but he gave it.  He laid it down and has the power to take it up again (John 10.18).  He was not gunned down but crucified.  He was not profiled; he came to die (First Timothy 1.15).  Those he came to save did not believe that he was the Messiah; his own disciples were uncertain as to his identity (Matthew 16.13).

Our culture often attempts to demote Jesus in music, on movie screens and magazine covers, to humanize Jesus to the point where his divinity is unrecognizable. Yes, Jesus walked among us. Yes, Jesus is acquainted with our suffering and grief.  But, Jesus is also God.  Trayvon was not.  Again and again, we are guilty of worshipping in life and in death the creature and not the Creator (Romans 1.25).

God, help us all.  Amen.

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10 thoughts on “Trayvon Martin and the Nativity?

  1. Artist John Zachary painted blood on Trayvon’s hands. That ruined the message. Trayvon is not guilty. Trayvon was stalked and hunted down like an animal. Trayvon was an unarmed person standing his ground. Trayvon didn’t want to lead the “creepy” George Zimmerman back to his house were his little brother was.

  2. I had tweeted that Trayvon Martin is our contemporary Jesus. Trayvon Martin is a powerful symbol of Black and Brown youth being seen as criminals; being seen as guilty and stalked or stopped-n-frisked wherever they stand and wherever they walk. At what pace can a Black or Brown youth walk and not been seen as guilty? Trayvon’s blood stained sweatshirt in the form of a cross with the bullet hole through the heart area is a powerful symbol of the war on Black and Brown youth, which is sold to U.S. culture as “getting tough on crime” and waging a “war on drugs”.

    1. Glenn, thank you for your comment. I often post things that I do not agree with and this is one of them. As a minister and a pastor, I do not agree with you and I speak this truth to you in love. While Trayvon’s death was tragic, he does not represent Christ. I do not support any image of Christ being depicted in a nativity scene or otherwise. Trayvon’s blood did not do for me what Christ’s did and the racialized reasons for which many believe he died do not reflect the reason for which Christ died for humanity: love. Christ’s blood covered our sins. Trayvon’s blood sadly only covered the side walk.

      Our culture often attempts to demote Jesus in music, on movie screens and magazine covers, to humanize Jesus to the point where his divinity is unrecognizable. Yes, Jesus walked among us. Yes, Jesus is acquainted with our suffering and grief. But, Jesus is also God. And Trayvon is not.

      Thank you for your comment as it has allowed me to reflect more deeply on the post.

      1. I recently heard someone say “I used to be an atheist, until I realized that I was God.”
        What do you make of the Mormon belief that we will all become a God over our own universe?

      2. Glenn, this is utter rubbish. We can’t control our tongues or our tempers so how can we control our own universe? I realize the depth of my depravity a part from God and thereby acknowledge my need for the Divine. I can’t be the Creator and the created.

      3. Mormons say that we are created by our parents, and when we have children, we become the creator of our children. If our spirit lives forever, in say a billion years, might each of our spirits be at least closer to Godlike?

      4. As a Christian, I believe that children are a gift from God (Psalm 127.3); it is for this reason that in some Protestant traditions children are dedicated or given back to God. I too believe that human beings are spiritual, that we are made in God’s image and likeness (Genesis 1.27). We are also commanded to imitate Christ and in this sense to be Christlike. I am not sure of the sense in which you mean “Godlike” but when I think of God, I think in terms of supreme, beyond comparison and without an equal.

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