The St Matthew's billboard and why it kept me awake at 2am

Let's be clear. For those of you who don't me I am very pro vaccination and I've been horrified by some of the misinformation that's been coming through our churches. It's great that churches are getting involved in the covid response communications and I welcome it. 

I used to be the communications manager for Auckland Regional Public Health and went on to Ogilvy in Sydney. So you could say I know my way around a public health billboard. I'm also a Christian and a daily Bible reader which is why I was awake at 2am thinking about the St Matthew's new campaign messaging. 

"Give God a hand"

My knee jerk response is "God doesn't need a hand, He's God". Then I thought maybe I was missing the point and it's got something to do with praise- Give God a clap, a shout of praise....no?

Because if the core of the message is that in someway, God needs our help or is making an appeal through his lack of sovereignty in a pandemic, well then we're all in trouble. 

Let's look at some Scriptures. The key ones for me are Isaiah 59:1 "Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear" and Numbers 11:23 "The Lord answered Moses, is the Lord's arm too short? Now you will see whether or not what I say will come true for you."  People questioning whether God is sovereign still over a troubling situation is very common in the Bible (read the Book of Job) and in all cases it is made clear that God is in fact, God. 

So then I thought of the lovely imagery around God holding our hand (Isaiah 41:13; Psalm 63:8) and thought maybe this is what the campaign is getting at. Does God uphold us by his hand? Yes. Does he need a hand? No. So I don't think that's it. 

We can also pivot to some theology around co-labouring with Christ which may be getting warmer to the true character of God. "For we are co-workers in God's service, you are God's field, God's building (1 Corinthians 3:9). Partnering and being yoked together with Christ is very Biblical but it's also very clear that He is the creator (the potter, the builder, the field owner) and we are the clay. 

I'm sure these discussions have been had at St Matthew's and maybe that's the point but as ambassadors of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:18-20) it's important we get the key messages right. God isn't needy or in need of anything and I want everyone to know that at these challenging times. Take care. 

Brian Tamaki and his picnics that aren't protests

I'm on the fence about Brian Tamaki. Not as a person or a church leader, but on the legal ramifications of the the gathering he fronted in the Domain. 

He was definitely in breach of a Public Health Order and has been charged accordingly. But how does the right to protest work in a pandemic and what does that mean for democracy in our country? There has been some discussion from other bloggers such as David Farrier that Tamaki was the brown patsy for a white-church coordinated political drive but I think this is all nonsense. Tamaki is a big boy and while I doubt his wisdom, I don't doubt his cunning. 

The language gets tricky and Tamaki is working this. Facebook pages claimed the gathering was not a protest but a Stand (using Biblical language here). Tamaki met with high ranking police and explained his intentions for the October 2 event. Now, the church leader is planning further "picnics" in covid restricted areas- to mock the terminology used by the government. Surely he would be better to come out and simply claim a protest but their group has been careful not to do this. 

What is clear to me is that these actions have nothing to do with faith and everything to do with politics and a desire to introduce Trumpian grass roots movements to New Zealand. I don't like it but have to concede that there are those with different political views to me who have the right to air their disapproval. 

What if it turns into a super spreader? It concerns me and I don't have the answers but we need to hold fire on our personal judgements and think through what it would mean if our democracy was threatened. The officials have a challenging case study and I'll continue to watch with interest.