DEDHAM (CBS) – It’s an unconventional take on the nativity scene at St. Susanna’s Parish Dedham. The baby Jesus is in a cage, the wise men are closed off by a wall.
For the parish, the crèche is meant to be thought provoking. “We try to take a picture of the world as it is and put it together with a Christmas message,” said Pastor Fr. Stephen Josoma.
That message this year questions “peace on earth”, since Jesus represents migrant children being held at the southern border separated from their parents.
The wise men are the caravan of migrants behind the border wall. They believe it’s very much the message of Jesus. “Jesus was about taking care of one another. This is not the way to take care of one another,” said Fr. Josoma.
“We’re not trying to scandalize anyone,” said parishioner Pat Ferrone, a member of the Pax Christi committee which came up with the idea for the display. “We’re trying to reflect back a reality that has to be looked at.”
But mixing politics with religion isn’t sitting well with some who believe the nativity scene has crossed a line. “This is where you come to pray not to be preached at what you should think about politics,” said Helen Watson who drove to church to see the display.
Fr. Josoma insists the scene is not a dig at Trump administration policies. Instead of political activism he calls it gospel activism. “We talk about Matthew 25 feeding the hungry and welcoming the stranger.”
Parishioner Phil Mandeville says Jesus was no stranger to politics. “Christ was political, he was hung on a cross for making political statements and bucking authority and that’s exactly why he died,” Mandeville said.
The nativity scene is meant to be a symbol of hope, and at St. Susanna’s the hope is that a conversation has begun.