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Dear Friends,

How frustrating it can be for us as Christians that the secular world takes “our” festivals and not only changes them but doesn’t even know or acknowledge where they come from. Having got the secularisation of Christmas off my chest in my last piece I now find that we have Pancake Day instead of Shrove Tuesday, Mother’s Day instead of Mothering Sunday and Easter seems to be all about chocolate eggs! In school I wasn’t surprised to find that many children weren’t even aware that the date of Easter changes each year. Now let’s be honest, the calculation for Easter isn’t obvious.

It was decided at the council of Nicea 325AD (Yes, the Nicean Creed and all that stuff; is Jesus made of the same substance as God or of a similar substance?) that Easter would fall on the first Sunday, after the first full moon after the “vernal equinox” (the day spring begins because the plane of the Earth’s circumference passes through the centre of the Sun and night and day are thus the same length, usually around March 21st). So for 2017, the first full moon after the equinox is April 11th and so Easter day is on the following Sunday, 16th April. Well I’m glad that’s sorted.

Anyway, back to my concern, Easter has been taken over, or so it seems, by chocolate eggs and bunny rabbits and I think we shouldn’t just be complacent and put up with it. Here I must admit that I do love chocolate eggs, especially those made in the well-known Birmingham establishment, but that to one side, this is a call for all of us to do our bit and remind everyone what Easter is really about.

For children the Easter story can be represented in a hot cross bun. The cross is rather obvious, but the bun is round like the rock sealing Jesus’ tomb, the currants remind us of the nails used and the spices of the oils to anoint His body. We also need to remind children that eggs, bunnies and lambs remind us of new life at spring time and Jesus defeated death and therefore evil by being raised from the dead.

But how are we going to reach out to those secular or agnostic adults? They can just be so difficult to engage and not always receptive to our beliefs. Well, the fact is, Easter IS a Christian festival, celebrated for almost 2000 years, so what are we to do? Could we think about sending religious Easter cards? Could we invite friends round for a fish meal on Good Friday? Could we be a bit more liberal with our sharing of hot cross buns perhaps pointing out that we always have them at Easter because of what they signify? Or what about buying someone a “Real” Easter egg which tells the story of Easter? We might even make a special effort to bring a friend to an Easter service.

In the questionnaire recently distributed by Revd Sian we were asked, are we a “follower” or a “disciple”. This is not a judgment, just an observation. I’ve shared with Revd Sian that I am definitely a follower in that I try to live a life Jesus would have me live (and like everyone else sometimes getting it wrong) and I try to be disciple spreading the good news but I find it really difficult. You know how it is, we might call it English reserve, not wanting to impose or press our views etc. So perhaps over Easter time we can all try to do a bit more discipleship in whatever way we feel comfortable letting whoever we can know the real meaning of Easter. Good luck.