‘Twas the week before Christmas, and all through the city, everyone was waiting for the billboard, from St Matthew-in-the-City…..
The Anglican parish in central Auckland has become something of a staple at Christmas and Easter for its edgy billboards. Well, some would call them edgy. In previous years it’s been Mary and Joseph in bed, with both looking sheepish and the caption “Poor Joseph. God was a hard act to follow”. There was Mary looking forlorn as she looked at a pregnancy test. There was Jesus on the cross wondering if anyone would remember anything he said.
So what’s this year’s fun and games? TVNZ fills us in:
Auckland’s St Matthew-in-the-City church has once again made a move to grab people’s attention with a controversial billboard.
Its latest billboard is aimed at the debate around traditional Christian beliefs, and is focused on the sexual orientation of Jesus.
The billboard depicts a picture of the Baby Jesus in a crib with the words “It’s Christmas – time for Jesus to come out.”
The baby is surrounded by a rainbow halo, in an obvious reference to the colours of the LGBT flag.
As they usually do, the staff at St Matthew’s seek to justify the billboard as a way to promote deeper thinking about the meaning of the Christian feast.
St Matthew’s clergy Rev Glynn Cardy and Rev Clay Nelson said the billboard invites discussion and debate.
“Some scholars have tried to make the case that he might have been gay,” said Nelson. “But it is all conjecture. Maybe gay, maybe not. Does it matter?”
Cardy said that he hoped the billboard would draw attention to the debate on gay marriage.
“There is almost nothing in the record of his teachings about sexuality while there is plenty about the perils of being rich,” he said.
“Certainly he always supported the marginalised in society.”
Once again, St Matthew’s wins by having people like me write about their nonsense. After all, this is the church that has hired out its beautiful building for an ad showing a pizza and pie getting married. This is usually the most prominent story for the Anglican Communion in New Zealand each year. That’s something I can’t imagine the Anglican bishops of New Zealand wish for.