At no point in history, or at least since AD 33 (give or take), has Easter been less relevant. That’s my assertion anyway. People may be griping about other people using religion as a weapon these days but let’s not forget that religion has always been used, in most cases as first port of call, as a weapon since someone dreamt it all in the first place. Repent you sickling or big, bad God is gonna get ya! I was in Rome a couple of weeks ago and it was busy. But this weekend it’s REALLY going to be BUSY! For this weekend every Catholic and most other Christians will be thinking about the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, who died for our sins. Well, some people’s sins.
Here’s a selection of ways to celebrate Easter according to various internet faith sites. On no account try these all at once lest your mind and body explode with Christian joy and goodliness that comes with it.
1. ‘Ask your family the following questions: “What is Easter? Why does it matter whether or not Jesus Christ rose from the dead?” Then read and discuss John 20 as a family.’ (familylife.com)
Well I can feel celebrations stir into life already. There’s nothing kids love more than going home to discuss the same stuff they’ve already spent 3 weeks at school and Sunday school discussing at great length. Know your audience.
2. ‘Tell the Easter Story with Resurrection Eggs’. (tommynelson.com)
This involves filling plastic eggs with items which represent a part of the Easter Story (a few nails, the Turin Shroud, that kind of thing). It doesn’t actually say what to do with them exactly but I guess you can let your imagination run riot.
3. ‘Use the Easter greetings with your family. During the season of Easter, Latin speakers can say, “Surrexit Dominus vere!” to be answered with, “Deo gratias!” Greek speakers can say, “Christos aneste!” to be answered with, “Alethos aneste!” English speakers can say, “Christ is risen!” to be answered with, “He is risen indeed, alleluia!”’ (stcatherinecentre.wordpress.com).
Great idea! Especially handy for the billions of people across the globe who have enjoyed the benefits of a classical education. I’m not ashamed to say I was taught Latin at school but I am ashamed to say I didn’t learn any of it. I proudly shouted ‘Surrexit Dominus vere’ to the chap next to me at the bar in Wetherspoon’s last night. He responded with equal enthusiasm by thrusting a broken glass in my throat. I suppose I’ll have to forgive him.
4. ‘Discuss ways your family can share the hope of Jesus Christ with others. Do you have an elderly neighbor whose day would be brightened by a batch of Resurrection Cookies? Is there someone who you could pick up for church or include in your Easter dinner?’ (familylife.com)
It’s ok, I haven’t spelt neighbour wrong, it’s just the Americans who can’t cope with extra letters. We have lovely elderly neighbours but I imagine they’d give a pretty frosty response to a batch of Resurrection Cookies (written as proper nouns because that’s what God has them trademarked as). I’m not sure quite what Resurrection Cookies are. Give me a couple of minutes and proceed to 5.
5. ‘Make a batch of Resurrection Cookies’ (familylife.com)
In fact this idea features on every website I looked at (all five of them), each knowing that the only way for children to overcome the sheer boredom of Easter is to provide a steady stream of cookie dough in between the relentless cascade of chocolate. Sorry I mean Crucifixion Chocolate. The recipe for Resurrection Cookies is surprisingly complex. This is not because making cookies is hard work. To make these cookies earn the ‘Resurrection’ seal of approval you need to add extra ingredients like vinegar (Jesus’ preferred crucifixion beverage) and then read passages of the bible at each stage so you know precisely why these cookies are relevant to Easter. What should take no time at all ends up consuming an entire evening. A bit like a Jamie Oliver ‘15 minute’ meal. And what biscuit doesn’t taste better with a good splash of vinegar?
6. ‘Make a Paid in Full cross. – I think this idea is brilliant. Start with a wooden or cardboard cross. Paint it a pretty metallic color then cover it with shiny coins to show that Jesus paid the debt for our sins.’ (tommynelson.com)
These Americans really go for it so here’s two from my personal favourite (favorite) – Tommy Nelson. Tommy thinks this is a brilliant idea which takes the grand total of people who think this is a brilliant idea rocketing up to 1. Proportion of kids who’ll be looking at all that money and working out how much chocolate they could be buying with it? 100%.
7. ‘Bake a tomb cake. – My kids love to cook with me. A tomb cake is basically a bundt cake, cut in half and laid on its side. Decorate it to look like there’s grass around it, and stick a little flag in the top that says He Is Risen!’ (tommynelson.com)
Oh Tommy, you’ve gone and taken it too far now. I can’t help feeling that your kids have to love cooking with you in case the floor opens up beneath them and they’re dragged to hell. What lunatic would make a cake that looks like a tomb? A religious lunatic, that’s who. From now on I’m going to make every piece of toast I eat look like a headstone, with writing using squeezy Marmite.
8. ‘We go to church on Easter – and we don’t stop that good habit after Easter day is over. The excitement continues throughout the year. Our pastor wisely reminds that every day of the year is a great day to celebrate the fact that Jesus is alive.’ (simplycintia.com)
Noble and virtuous of sentiment indeed, and I really mean that because if there’s one thing a Christian should do at Easter it’s to go to church. More intriguing is the assurance that Jesus IS alive and that celebrating this is the source of daily excitement. I’m not being facetious on this one, I’m just not convinced. In the same way I’m a bit dubious about suicide bombers who think that blowing themselves up is the best way to get laid in heaven. Heaven with a capital H?
9. ‘Foot Washing: This Maundy Thursday event speaks volumes about Jesus’s desire for us to serve. Read John 13. Wrap a towel around your waist, as Jesus did, and wash your children’s feet. Your lives might never be the same.’ (crosswalk.com)
Blimey, that’s today. Quick, where did I put my foot-washing towel? Gather round children, I have some oil! There’s no way I’m washing anyone’s feet unless they wash mine too. Same principle applies to massages. I assume you remain fully clothed when you wrap the towel around your waist or that will raise some pretty testing questions when the child protection squad come round. Yes, definitely don’t wash your children’s feet wearing ONLY a towel, that’s my advice. And certainly don’t offer to wash anyone else’s children’s feet wearing only a towel. Or your life really might never be the same again.
10. ‘Create anticipation with a countdown to Easter. Make a traditional numbered paper chain for your kids to tear off one paper loop each day.’ (everthinehome.com)
What a name for a website! I was going to finish with the classic Easter egg hunt but that’s just too obvious. Besides, what impressionable young child would choose to run round a garden looking for free chocolate when they could stretch out the joy of Easter by spending 0.5 seconds a day ripping up a bit of paper. Whilst thinking about Jesus. Don’t forget to recycle each piece you tear off. Whilst thinking about the ways we are destroying the only planet in the solar system capable of supporting complex life.
So that’s Easter covered for another year. 10 ways to make your Easter time crackle with an excitement you never knew existed. Cynicism aside there is really only one way to enjoy Easter and that’s by being warm and cuddly and generally nice to each other, something which I have failed to live up to here. Not to worry, Jesus has taken care of my sins already. Job done! Or do I not count?
Alethos aneste! Quite.
G B Hewitt 13.4.2017