It’s another year and it’s yet another billboard that the self-proclaimed Anglican “progressive” church—St. Matthew’s-in-the-City Church—in Auckland, New Zealand, has posted to get people to consider the authentic meaning of Christmas.
Two years ago, the billboard depicted Mary and a dejected-looking Joseph lying in bed, with the tagline, “Poor Joseph, God was a hard act to follow.” Last year, the billboard read, “For those who can’t make Mass this Christmas, we’ve blessed this billboard. (Go ahead, touch it).” After a storm, the church bottled and auctioned online the rainwater running off the billboard, calling it “holy water,” to raise money for the church’s charity work.
This year, the billboard depicts the Blessed Virgin Mary after reading the results of her early pregnancy test.
According to a CNSNews.com article, the pseudo-Renaissance style billboard carries no tagline. Instead, the church’s leaders, vicar Glynn Cardy and associate priest Clay Nelson, have invited people to offer their own thoughts.
One Catholic activist, Arthur Skinner of the Catholic Action Group, took the church leaders at their word. Skinner expressed his thoughts by tearing the billboard in half during a prayer protest. In a television interview, he said:
Even people who aren’t Catholics know instinctively you don’t attack the Blessed Virgin who gave us the savior of the world. To see this at this time is an absolute abomination.
Skinner warned that if the provocative image is replaced, he will damage it again.
Cardy and Nelson denounced Skinner’s self-expression as representing “Christian intolerance.” They said:
Frankly, we are tired of Christian intolerance—and embarrassed by it. When will we recognize that none of us have the whole truth? When will we recognize that those who hold contrary opinions are not “of the devil? When will we recognize that truth comes in many guises, often in unexpected ways?
Okay, like it or not, the church’s leaders are “inclusive” of a “diversity” of belief and they are inviting people to express their beliefs.
However, while the billboard undoubtedly “pushes the envelope,” it doesn’t offend or outrage The Motley Monk. Yes, an EPT test doesn’t conform with scripture. Yes, bigots will post thoughts ridiculing Christian doctrine. Yes, some zealots will be offended and outraged, using the billboard to express themselves. And yes, The Motley Monk would not have posted the billboard.
But, all of that overlooks how the billboard depicts something substantive, namely, the genuinely human element present at the Annunciation that is entirely in conformity with scripture. Following God’s will oftentimes presents tremendous challenges and at great personal cost. The substantive question is whether or not a person will accept those challenges and pay those costs.
That said, if The Motley Monk had the opportunity to express his thoughts, he would paint a tag line at the bottom of the billboard’s sign: “Let it be done unto me, according to your word.”
Let the discussion begin…
To read the CNSNews.com article, click on the following link: