Easter isn’t Christmas…well that seems obvious. What I mean is Easter doesn’t seem to have quite the same impact on British culture as Christmas does. Despite the fact we get two bank holidays, there is no ‘Now that’s what I call Easter’ album, no Easter lights around the town, and no Advent calendar countdown to the big day. Or is there?
Well, Easter has it’s own countdown called Lent and it begins on Shrove Tuesday. Now that, most people do know about because it involves food; pancakes, lemons, maple syrup. Shrove comes from the word ‘shrive’ an old word that means to confess. Shrove Tuesday was a day when people would go to their priest to confess and be absolved (forgiven) for all the bad things they had done. A kind of ‘wiping the slate clean’. The reason for the pancakes? Well traditionally it marks the day when people used up all the ‘good stuff’ the fat and the flour in order to begin a fast on the following day…the start of Lent.
A lot of people will have heard of Lent and associate it with giving things up…alcohol, chocolate (insert your own temptation here). But why? Lent is a 40 day period which counts down to Easter Day (excluding Sundays). It’s connected with a period of time that Jesus spent in the desert praying and fasting (going without food). Jesus was preparing for the start of his ministry, taking time out to spend with God. If you want to know what real temptation is like read about what happened to Jesus in those 40 days in Luke Chapter 4. In the same way, Christians use Lent to spend time with God. Like anyone who is important to you, it’s good to be in their company. They might use the time to examine what their relationship with God is like and how it changes the way they live.. I suppose you could call it a kind of ‘spring clean’ or ‘taking stock’.
Towards the end of Lent, we have Good Friday. Strange title for something which marks the day when Jesus died a tortuous death on a cross, the chosen method of execution for the occupying Romans at the time. What’s ‘good’ about that and why did it happen? Well, many more intelligent people than I have spent their lives writing about that subject – there is a lot to say…but the short answer is…in Jesus, God came to earth in human form…he laughed and cried just like us…and he died to show us how much he loved us. So I guess you can call that good…right? But it gets even better.
Easter Sunday!!!! The bunny has been and left you chocolate eggs. (Think about that for a second…does that seem strange to you?) OK, here’s the really important thing…Jesus didn’t die…well he did…they prepared his body and put him in a tomb…but he didn’t stay there. Three days later …SURPRISE! The ultimate ‘ta dah!’ moment. He’s alive…walking and talking and chatting with his friends…who were, let’s be honest – seriously shocked. Who wouldn’t be?
What has all this got to do with eggs? Inside an egg is the potential for new life…Easter is all about the new life God is offering everyone. No ifs, no buts, or maybes – ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only son so that we can have eternal life’. (The Bible John Chapter 3). God’s invitation is for everyone. So, come as you are, …however you eat your Creme Egg.