[Rector]

Notice boards

 

There is something about church notice-boards, something deceptive, perverse even. I don't mean the service times and the minister's name and telephone number. Although, sometimes this is perverse. I was out in the country on one occasion and attempted to attend the Sunday morning service. I had believed the notice board, but then, as I was informed, "We haven't had a service at that time for years". I didn't ask the obvious. Yes indeed, perverse. But as I said, it's not that type of perverse I'm thinking of.

Nor is it the "come and join us" type of notice. We are the friendly community church who wants your rotunda on the pew and your money in the plate. We want you here and certainly not down the road at that other place. A newly converted person, with mind still fresh and unscrewed, once made this comment about her local churches vying for the "really friendly church" award. "The constant selling of the Christian church gives the impression that the product is lousy." Yes indeed, perverse.

Nor is it the text on the blackboard type notice. Funny thing is; I always read those texts. Nothing perverse about scripture. I served for a time at a branch church with a congregation of about five people, and what a wonderful fellowship. Preach any longer than twenty minutes and the urn would boil over and steam out the church. Anyway, every week there was a new text on the church notice-board. It was a loving ministry by a little old gentleman. Yes, nothing perverse in that.

The notices which I think are perverse are the "affirmation notice." It's the "What's missing? CH__CH", and worse. This is the notice which affirms church members at the expense of the rest of humanity. It's the kind of notice that gives you a warm feeling of security as you drive up to the church on a Sunday morning. It's the one that sticks its finger up at the rest who drive past. It's the kind of notice that Jesus would never put up. In fact, it's the opposite of what he would put up. I suppose you could call it an "I'm all right Jack" notice. They affirm the brotherhood and denounce the outcast. Not wanting to be constantly placarded as a leper, most people return the gesture and avert their eyes.

How then did Jesus placard the gospel? First, he did not condemn the lost. He came as a doctor to the sick. Second he exposed religious hypocrisy. The gospel was often presented within a critique of institutional religion - particularly pharisaism. Third, he spoke in riddles, parables, to sift the wheat from the chaff. To "banner" the gospel is to proclaim mercy to the "last" and judgement to the "first".
 

P.S. It's not the gospel, but a great notice when commencing a new ministry is "Under new management - Same Boss"