Christmas Decor Image

This past Saturday, Nahida and Samar Anton, a mother and her daughter, were shot dead by an Israeli sniper at the parish of the Holy Family in Gaza as they were unarmed, making their way across the church courtyard. This latest attack comes a little over two months since war first broke out between Israel and Palestine on Oct. 7, following a terrorist act by Hamas militants that killed at least 1,200 people in Israel. Sadly, this war is not the only ongoing site of bloody conflict in the world; war continues to rage in Ukraine and more than 100 other territories across our world.

In solidarity with those who suffer the devastating effects of war, the patriarchs and heads of the churches in Jerusalem “call upon our congregations to stand strong with those facing such afflictions by foregoing any unnecessarily festive activities this year.” They encourage people “to focus more on the spiritual meaning of Christmas in their pastoral activities and liturgical celebrations.”

With this desire to stand in solidarity with a grieving world and to join in a global prayer for peace and justice, the Sacred Space Ministry at Xavier has decided to pare down our usual decorations of trees and twinkling lights, moving them to the side altars and the choir loft. We deliberately chose to foreground the meaning of Christmas and give a prime position to the scene of Christ’s birth.

Mounted high above the altar, a photograph on one side vividly captures a moment from the war in Palestine and Israel. This serves as a powerful reminder that this Christmas unfolds against the backdrop of conflict in the Holy Land, impacts people of our shared Abrahamic faiths and creates new discord among Christians. Another image depicts an abandoned street in Kharkiv, Ukraine, symbolizing not just ongoing global conflicts but also resonating with the feelings of loneliness and isolation that our faith can help heal.

The entire wall is crafted from loosely held-together cardboard boxes. The scene is a visual resemblance of the Western Wall in the old city of Jerusalem—a sacred place, especiallycherished by those of the Jewish faith—that serves as a dedicated space for prayer and reflection, open to people of all denominations and backgrounds. We invite you to write down your prayers and place them within the scene.

The nativity scene comprises photographs of a creche generously given to the parish. Each figure has been photographed from three angles, encouraging those who come to pray to move around and find their place at the scene of Christ’s birth. The four photographs positioned above the baptismal pool each depict a mother and her child. The scenes, from left to right, capture the Uvalde school shooting, the U.S.-Mexico border, Sudan, and material impoverishment in the U.S.

All materials used will either be reused or recycled in keeping with our parish’s commitment to environmental justice through our Laudato Si’ action plan.