I recall once an egg given to our children by a lovely generous woman called Diane when we were on holiday abroad. It was a Hershey’s Easter Cross. It wasn’t just that it was a cross: it was so thick we had to use a hammer to break it into pieces so we could actually pop it into our mouths! It was glorious! The chocolate would melt gently, its richness so enticing. Even with our children it took ages to eat every piece, but it was so good!
Back in the UK, the chocolate eggs which adorn the shops these days are crafted to be thin. Although the packaging looks wonderful and colourful the egg contained within remains ‘paper thin’ and with a little knock the egg is shattered everywhere. I recall that we may be fortunate to find a packet of sweets contained inside the egg but often these days that may be a small bar which is added to the packaging.
Yesterday we have had the Prime Minister stating that, speaking as a Vicar’s daughter, the lack of ‘Easter’ in the National Trust’s advertising for an egg hunt was ‘absolutely ridiculous’. Nigel Farage said “We must defend our Judeo-Christian culture and that means Easter” – which is interesting given his past religious comments. The Archbishop of York pronounced that the lack of Easter was “tantamount to spitting on the grave” of the founder of Cadbury’s, despite that as a Quaker, he probably wouldn’t celebrate Christmas nor Easter.
Sadly the issue raised by the Prime Minister, and elevated to such heights by the media, may not be true.
The link between Easter and Christianity seems to originate with Bede but the assumptions he made may now be questionable, to say the least. He may have a lack of corroborating evidence to support his assertions.
I wonder, and others have also said this, whether the soundbite offered by the Prime Minister was to possibly distract the media from ongoing discussions relating to Brexit and sales to Middle East powers.
The Easter egg offers great hope that we may find enjoyment through the chocolate. We wait throughout Lent, savouring that taste which will be available on either Good Friday or Easter Day (it seems to depend upon your tradition). Then that thin crust can be broken and it is gone, bar for the chocolate smeared across the faces of the children or on/in the carpet. The extent of the packaging which exceeds the size of the egg now remains but is then scrunched up and hopefully recycled.
It all goes back to the meaning of Lent: is it giving up on something which offers such an ultimate tantalising reward or is it to grow closer to God?
Easter, or whatever we call it as it appears to be yet another secular festival which has been appropriated by the church, was never meant to be a celebration over on the day. The chocolate doesn’t run out at this time. The love that Christ so clearly demonstrated when he died on the cross and then returned to his followers is perpetual. We so often break ‘Easter’ up into separate parts but as Sunday follows the Friday, the resurrection follows the cross – it is inextricably linked. Christians believe that Jesus demonstrated that love between God and us, that deep loving relationship between our creator and ourselves. It goes on. It doesn’t stop.
When many people died recently in Syria due to chemical weapons, is this really what the Church and the Prime Minister needed to be talking about? We have so much to focus upon which clearly demonstrates Christ’s love to all, and we focus upon the origins of the pagan festival, the finding of eggs which offer little but instantaneous thrill, and still so many people die so needlessly.
May the church bring together this year a start of a prolonged period of sustained demonstrations of love for all. How can we move from Lent to continuing to help those who are in poverty or who are still marginalised by our society?
Change the way that our society thinks and operates. #SpeakLife