Mary with pregnancy test sends message this Christmas

By Paul Harper

The latest St Matthews-in-the-City Church billboard - depicting Mary with a positive pregnancy test - aims to tell Christmas is "about a real baby and a real mum".

But like previous billboards from the progressive central Auckland church it is likely to provoke a reaction from other Christians.

The latest billboard, which was created by an advertising company, was erected last night and will remain up until Christmas Day.

"As in the past it is our intention to avoid the sentimental, trite and expected to spark thought and conversation in the community. This year we hope to do so with an image and no words. We invite you to wonder what your caption might be," the church said on its website.

Vicar Glynn Cardy said there had been only positive comments about the billboard so far on the church's Facebook page and website and hoped there would not be a negative reaction.

"I don't think it is particularly controversial. I think it is focusing and wanting to encourage people to think about the real meaning of Christmas. It isn't about Santa and tinsel, it's about a real baby.

"I think also Mary's shock in finding out she's pregnant, no matter what you think about whether she had a divine premonition or not, there is a shock and that Mary being young, as they were in those days ... and she had limited means of support and there is a whole anxiety factor in there. And I think anxiety is around for a lot of people today, not just around pregnancy but around the lack money and resources and the lack of good health.

"I'd like to encourage people to be kind and compassionate and be tolerant to those that are different to themselves."

St Matthews-in-the-City has often sought to push the envelope with its billboards; in 2009 a billboard before Christmas depicted Mary and Joseph in bed with the text: "Poor Joseph, God was a hard act to follow".

In April the church responded to Hell Pizza's "For a limited time. A bit like Jesus" Easter bun billboard with one reading "Hell no, we're not giving up pizza for Lent".

- Herald Online Staff

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