On September 1 (through September 15), a life-sized sculpture of a homeless Jesus will return to the front of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, as a public witness of St. Peter’s commitment to remember and love all of our neighbors. The sculpture, by Canadian sculptor Timothy P. Schmalz, was inspired by the parable Jesus told to his followers near the end of the Gospel of Matthew. Schmalz titled his sculpture, "Whatsoever You Do."
“This sculpture is a visual representation of charity. We should see Christ in the poor and the hungry. We should see our acts of kindness to them as kindness to Him. It is inspired by the Gospel of Matthew 25:40.” (from Schmalz’s website) He describes his sculptures “as being visual prayers.”
The sculpture is a poignant reminder of God’s invitation to see Jesus in everyone we encounter. At the same time, the statue invites us to recall our shared humanity with the homeless we worshipped alongside at Chapel on the Green in New Haven, the hungry we feed through the Monroe Food Pantry, our participation in the Bridgeport Deanery feeding programs, and those strangers in Monroe whose need we do not yet know. At the very heart of all these ministries, is our willingness to embrace everyone as a child of God.
The statue has been traveling throughout the Episcopal Church in Connecticut; it had a brief stay at Camp Washington and will be displayed in over a dozen churches throughout the year. Please do take a few minutes to come by the church to sit with Jesus, who beckons us with sadness and hope as a powerful reminder of our ministry to love our neighbors as ourselves.
To learn more:
Video by the artist concerning the “Whatsoever You Do” sculpture:
The artist’s webpage:
"‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you a drink? When did we see you as a stranger and welcome you, or naked and give you clothes to wear? When did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ “Then he will reply to them, ‘I assure you that when you have done it for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you have done it for me.’”
(from Matthew 25: 37-40 - Common English Bible (CEB))