Storm In An Egg Cup? Easter Expectations in a Post-Christian Culture
There’s been a bit of a media hoohah this week about the National Trust’s ‘Cadbury Egg Hunts’. Ian Paul’s written a very helpful summary of the situation, which is well worth a gander. It’s been a busy week and to be honest I haven’t really been able to give it much thought until today when a local journalist rang up. So what are we to think of this as Christians?
To unashamedly nick the British Humanist Association’s line, I think it’s a bit of a storm in an egg-cup to be honest. Actually, as you look at the publicity on the National Trust website, the word ‘Easter’ is still visibly present. I wonder if some of the frustration is more due to our unease with a national treasure like the NT ‘selling off’ sponsorship rights for something that’s traditionally been deemed to be a family-focused event.
But for me the most important thing has to be that we ensure everyone gets the chance to discover for themselves what they make of the empty tomb and explore the claim that Jesus rose from the dead.
The statistics show we do live in a post-Christian culture, which on one hand means it’s part of the job of the Church to share why we believe Easter is good news. And yet on the other hand it surely means we’re not to expect everyone to be using the ‘E word’ whenever they go hunting chocolate eggs and enjoying this holiday season.
Of course, as a Christian, Easter itself couldn’t be more significant. After all, we’re celebrating the fact that Jesus died for us, and that he also came back to life. We believe that whilst these events happened two thousand years ago, they’re just as relevant today. They demonstrate his lavish love. They open the way for us to be back in relationship with God. They show that the brokenness of this world and the mess of our own hearts does not have the final word. And the empty tomb means quite categorically that death is not the end. So Easter itself is hugely significant.
But focusing our attention and public voice on whether or not Cadbury’s uses the word Easter on an egg can come across as quite petty. Particularly in a week when our TVs and newsfeeds tell us of horrific events in Syria and devastating famines in South Sudan. Maybe it’s a question of posture – and this is the question we’re going to have to keep navigating over the coming decades. The problem is that the Church can easily be perceived as quibbling about minor details, or as living in the past, like we’re still expecting the nation around us to keep in line with our Christian priorities.
That said, I think there’s certainly a place for publicly calling people to consider whether or not Easter means anything more to them than eggs & holidays. And perhaps showing how times have changed is one way of doing that, e.g. the point about how Cadbury’s founder was a Christian. But how we do that gently and winsomely is worth considering. Ultimately we want to show it’s our joy to proclaim the good news of Easter, rather being seen to have a grump on because the culture is not conforming to our priorities.