For immediate release
— Wellington, Thursday, 4 December 2008
on the Authority of Commissioner Garth McKenzie (Territorial
The Salvation Army, New Zealand Fiji & Tonga Territory
Tui billboard helps keep the focus on the real reason for Christmas
While the latest Tui beer billboard may be a throw-away gimmick to sell more beer, it raises an important point – Christmas, to a large degree, has been hijacked.
The “Let’s take a moment this Christmas to think about Christ - yeah right” billboard has irritated some New Zealand Christians. However, The Salvation Army thinks the billboard offers an invitation for people to make room for God in an increasingly commercialised season.
Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Christianity and the spiritual and moral frameworks that guide us, and not the excuse for conspicuous consumption that some would like to sell to us, Salvation Army leader Commissioner Garth McKenzie said.
“We hope New Zealanders will look beyond the deluge of pre-Christmas advertising, urging them to consume more, and look to the real reasons for Christmas – the celebration of God’s greatest gift to the world, Jesus Christ. Christmas presents an opportunity to reassess our priorities and re-energise our humanity to one another.”
Christmas is also an opportunity for New Zealanders who may have lost contact with God to reacquaint themselves with Him, he said.
Commissioner McKenzie said Salvation Army churches will offer a warm welcome to all people over the Christmas season.
A central Salvation Army concern and a common Christmas period by product is the increased demand on Salvation Army community services. Its food banks, budget advisors, emergency accommodation and addiction services will be under greater pressure this Christmas and a significant contributor to this will be the abuse of alcohol.
“We hope people who consume alcohol this Christmas will do so in moderation and refrain from driving under the influence,” Commissioner McKenzie says.