Old story, new perspective: Refugee nativity scene swaps innkeepers for mock ICE agents

Andrew Kramer
December 24, 2018 - 8:07 pm

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — After Stormy the cow got away twice last year, Old First Reformed United Church of Christ in Old City switched up its live animal creche in 2018, making a refugee nativity instead. 

And before Christmas Eve services, those in the scene took a unique trek around the neighborhood, highlighting what the church feels are immigration issues in today's society. 

As part of the retelling of the story, Mary and Joseph knock on doors and ask if there is room in the inn. And when they are told "no," members of the congregation sing Christmas carols. 

Old First Rev. Michael Caine said this was the perfect time to create the refugee nativity scene, "as kind of a protest to the separation of families."

"We decided to add ICE agents as innkeepers," he added, who confront Mary and Joseph about being illegal Middle Easterners — before the church offers them sanctuary.

"The message is if God has loved us enough to send Jesus, we can certainly love our neighbors enough to welcome them," said Caine.

Allen Reese said he is glad he took part in this.

"I thought it was great," he said. "It's innovative and it brings some new perspective to an old story."

Although no cow, Walter the donkey made a one-night appearance to accompany Mary and Joseph.