25 Mar 2019 • From the Clergy
|The Mince Pies and Christmas cakes were hardly off the supermarket shelves before their place was taken by Hot Cross Buns and chocolate eggs. Enter the word “Easter” into Google Images and you have to scroll through 39 pictures of eggs, rabbits and chicks before you reach the first one of a cross. One is all you get before a return to the other images and you have to scroll through another 15 before you find a picture of Christ and even then He shares the space with a rabbit!|
There is even a picture of a rabbit coming out of an egg (!) before we find another vaguely religious image and as that bears the caption “Easter Monday” I derived little comfort from it!
Admittedly, I could have gone to the “religious” selection, but this requires making a conscious decision to go there; the default position is the secular one. Even when I did turn to the religious selection, the first few rows were of predominantly dark and rather sombre images. Where is the joy and light which surely should be associated with Easter?
All of this is indicative of how Easter has been secularised by society in general. We bemoan the commercialism of Christmas, but Easter is, I think, even more a victim than Christmas. True, there is not so much overt “Hype” but at least at Christmas there is still the true meaning of the season running through the festivities. Advent calendars might not depict exclusively religious scenes, but they are still called “Advent Calendars”. It is not difficult to find Christmas cards depicting the Nativity, or at least shepherds and Kings and non-church goers still get drawn into carol, crib and Christingle Services.
This is not the case, I think, at Easter. There are fewer Easter cards at all, and of those even fewer of a religious nature. Do many people, other than regular church attenders, come to our Easter Services? The Palm Sunday service may attract some due to the presence of the donkey, but I don’t recall our churches being packed to the extent that they are in the run up to Christmas Day. (I’m very happy to be corrected, if you know better!)
I wonder why this is? Easter is the most important of all Christian festivals. It is possible to hold a sincere Christian faith and still question the events of Christmas and in particular the Virgin Birth but surely no Christian can doubt the Resurrection? On that is based the absolute foundation of our faith – the source of our hope and our joy – so why do we allow it to be over-shadowed with all the nonsense of Easter Bunnies? Why do we not make much more of a noise about this festival and the amazing truths which it celebrates? It really shouldn’t be that difficult to bring about a change in attitudes. After all, society as a whole has embraced the idea of Lent. People of no religious stance at all give up things for Lent or take on Lent challenges, in some cases almost certainly with no clear idea of the origins of the practice. If they will engage with this sacrificial aspect of the season, then surely they can be encouraged to join in the celebrations which follow it. There must be some way in which they can be shown that the end of Lent is not just an excuse to over-indulge in whatever luxury they’ve been going without, but a cause for real and lasting joy and celebration.
So there’s a challenge for us: Perhaps we can begin in a small way – sending Easter cards not just to a few Christian friends, but to those who don’t come to church but to whom we would, without hesitation, send a Christmas card. If you think this is encouraging the commercialisation of Easter - make your own! Just ensure it has a suitably bright, Christian image and a relevant Bible verse.Perhaps, too, we could invite somebody to “Easter Lunch” in just the same way as we would on Christmas Day; Showing family and friends that this is an important day by gathering them together to celebrate.Small things? Perhaps but from small beginnings great things can grow. After all, it only took the actions of one Man, to change the fate of the world for ever!
Revd Sarah Cottrill