Or, from Russia, Syria, and Birmingham with love -
Church leaders have been complaining for years that Christmas has become far too commercial. Has the same happened to Easter? There is no doubt that chocolate manufacturers do rather well out of it. Although I won’t be too hard on one of the best known brand names. In 1824 John Cadbury, a Quaker Christian in Birmingham, began selling hot chocolate to working people as a cheap alternative to the excesses of alcohol. It quickly became symbolised as something good and wholesome. As long ago as the 5th century Christians in Mesopotamia (now Turkey, Iraq, and Iran) believed the common egg when cracked open celebrated the new life bursting forth from the empty tomb and defeating the darkness of death. The custom soon spread throughout the Orthodox Christian tradition in Syria and Russia, and later to the Christian churches in the West and beyond. So children (or adults!) receiving Easter eggs is actually closer to the gospel than we may have imagined - for many years people simply painted hen’s eggs and children took great delight in the colourful results. This meant that even the poorest families could celebrate Easter in a visual way when children rolled them down hills in municipal parks in even the most deprived urban areas. And long before Cadbury invented “crème eggs”! The humble egg is also a powerful symbol of creation and life itself. No matter how threatening and seemingly unsafe the world has become, Easter is our joyful reminder that LIFE HAS OVERCOME DEATH.
He is not here, He is risen.
Stephen Hazlett, Rector