A friend of mine challenged me to blog on Easter so here goes. Although I am now a Christian I grew up in an agnostic household. My parents sent me to church for reasons they have never let on about and I’m not interested to ask, but that did not lead me very far in terms of faith, although it probably taught me some good manners (well, certain Miss Wears, the fearsome and no nonsense head of Sunday school certainly did). It was later when I met the Lovely Wife that God and I renewed our relationship in a more meaningful way (and not just because we wanted to get married in church, we’re still going and it is ten years next week…)
Asked recently to think about what Easter means, I found myself looking at a blank screen (I wasn’t to say piece of paper as that’s far more dramatic, but let us start from a position of honesty here. Plus, if I were be honest, if I really was writing on a piece of paper I would not be able to read it anyway. God may have gifted me with many things but good – OK, at all legible – handwriting is not one of them). I was not getting very far. So I thought I would resolve the question with a list of things that just popped into my head in relation to the festival.
- Fish on Good Friday… For some reason my parents always insisted on this. Never really sure why, considering their positioning on the faith thing mentioned above, but fish it was too be. Possibly why this my least favourite day of the year, as my mother’s ability to cook fish did not match her other culinary skills, and it tended to be bland and dry. Of course the other problem with Good Friday is that in faith terms people treat it as being depressing. For me, that’s missing the point. If you are a believer, then it should be a day of contemplation of what is the ultimate sacrifice for our benefit. So serious thought and reflection, but that doesn’t mean doom and gloom.
And if you don’t believe, well it is still Friday. Everyone likes Fridays.
- Flowers… One of the joys of spring and Easter in particular are the flowers; and if you don’t like going into churches for any other reason the flowers are a good one at this time of the year. I particularly remember one year when we were staying on Guernsey where as far as I could tell all the churches were in a full scale competition to adorn every scrap of space with gorgeous Freesias and Daffodils. Each building seemed full on Easter Saturday with the local ladies of a certain age armed with their gardening gloves and flower stands. Nothing really says new life than the vibrant flowers of spring. I think even the richness of summer does not warm you quite as much as this explosion of colour.
- Soft Rock. When I was drifting around in agnosticism at uni my main exposure to Easter was Aylesbury rock band Marillion (in their post Fish days for those that care). There is a track on the 1989 album Seasons End called ‘Easter’ which is about the troubles in Northern Ireland. It calls for reconciliation at that particular time of year, a time when both Protestant and Catholic communities should be remembering that they should be loving each other not killing each other. Maybe the song itself is a bit corny (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3E2r_lUWlmo ), but it has stuck with me so I am settling on this for my prayer this year, as we are as divided as ever and sometimes it feels like the cracks are getting wider. And that is even from each other as in arrogance and fear we seek to browbeat others into our way of thinking rather than engaging in a decent discussion and realising that there are other opinions. In a lot of cases it doesn’t matter. In some cases it is vitally important. But we have to make that judgement as individuals.
I think that Easter, like Christmas or any other time of the year that people might just get over their own personal prejudices – come on, we all have them – and talk to each other. Probably over too much chocolate and/or alcoholic beverages but I’m not expecting much disagreement there. I would like it to be a time when we remember we do need each other. We do not have to agree with each other but that’s no excuse for violence or disrespect.
So that is my Easter this year. I do not care whether it is through faith, chocolate or a love of Doctor Who or just those lovely flowers, but let us be nice to each other for once this year and we might even like it.