Friday, March 21, 2008

Petrol or Pews

a Biblical thought...
But he said, "Unless I see the nail holes in his hands, put my finger in the nail holes, and stick my hand in his side, I won't believe it." (John 20:25)

a Book thought...
Our God is a God who greatly honours the underdog. Much of His message in the Old Testament through the prophets was "care for the orphans and widows; stop cheating to get money; provide for foreigners and the poor". (p196 Munn)
a Dave thought... from Friday's Age...
I DON'T want to offend anyone (actually I do), but let's be honest here, Easter's never really taken off. Two thousand years and it's still the B team of religious celebrations, just ahead of the Feast of the Circumcision. And ain't that a day when Christians go off like a frog in a sock?
Despite Easter being the Big Kahuna of the Christian holy days, we're all a bit lukewarm about it. No cards, no customs, no songs. Where's Deck the Halls with Eggs from Kmart? How about We Wish You a Happy Easter? Or, "On the fourth day of Easter my true love gave to me: four chocolate bilbies, three elegant rabbits, two panatones and a Humpty full of Smarties?"
Christmas even has its own special words, such as "carols" "merry" and "ho, ho, ho". The fat bloke in the red suit feels like a member of our family with his reindeer, his elves and his bulging sack of love. What's Easter got? Stuff all. A giant bunny that no one knows anything about. Is it male or female? Where does it live? And what's with the basket? A bit Tinky Winky, if you ask me.
Never in my life have I met anyone who's said: "I'm a real Easter person." There are plenty of Christmas people, the loonies who have tinsel running through their veins and carols running through their heads all year round. Those grinning idiots with their yuletide-themed apron, oven mitts and napkin rings for that One Day in December. But I've never met one egg-loving, bunny-crazed nut case who spends their entire year hanging out for some hard-core Easter action.
And it's not for want of trying, what with the relentless Easter lead-up of Shrove Tuesday, the day we Catholics let our hair down and go pancake crazy, followed by Ash Wednesday, when you can head down for a bit of red hot Mass action and come home looking like someone has butted a cigarette out on your face. Oh, and you get to kiss the feet of Jesus. And, yes, he does taste exactly like chicken. I know what you're thinking and it's true, life as a Catholic is just party, party, party. Then genuflect.
Who could forget Maundy Thursday? The day of the year when we put on our Maundy hats and Maundy pants for a bit of mid-March Maundy madness. No we don't. People don't even know it's called Maundy Thursday. Most don't realise that it's the day of the Last Supper. It's generally known as the Day Petrol Doubles in Price and You Have to Pick the Kids Up from School at 2.30.
It never ends: Good Friday (every child has at some point asked, "Jesus died, so why do they call it Good Friday?" Just tell them the name Bad Friday was run past the marketing team and they suggested something more positive), Easter Saturday, Easter Sunday, Easter Monday. It goes on forever — Easter Queen's Birthday, Easter New Year's Eve, Easter Good Friday. But the holy week still hasn't got much traction.

Easter is the duddest date in the festive calendar. I don't think it's even on the festive calendar, because no one knows when it's on until about a week before. After the Christmas cards get taken down and the ham gets finished, people start muttering: "Does anyone know when Easter is?"
"March, maybe April. Something to do with the moons. We have to wait until they know." Until who knows? It's all terribly mysterious. A bit "we'll keep the unwashed masses in suspense until we're good and ready". The Easter marketing department's mission statement must be "treat 'em mean, keep 'em keen". We're gripped with anticipation (no, we're not) as to when the chocolate orgy is upon us. But the shops get told two months before, which explains why you'll find elegant rabbits sitting next to the "back to skool" specials.
And the only reason people even want to know the date of Easter is not so they can organise a sumptuous lunch or start erecting a giant flashing rabbit in their front yard, but so they can bugger off and go camping. People are so confused about how little you can do to pay Easter lip service that they just pack up and go bush, instead of staying home thinking: "Well, it is Easter Sunday, so I suppose we should have something more momentous for lunch than a sandwich."
Time to rebrand Easter, I reckon. Get the Duracell bunny on board, sex up the name to something like "Easter: It's Fully Sick" and make it the season when you actually do teach your grandmother how to suck eggs.
Maybe even diversify the merchandise a bit. The chocolate bilby is all well and good, but how about something even more Australian, like a chocolate Warnie? Melts in your mouth then sends you eight text messages the next day.

As disturbing as this article is there is some truth in the fact that Easter has lost a lot of its impact in Australian society today, even the papers have more articles about rising petrol prices than about the pews. Even most Christians head away for the weekend and seem to treat it more like a holiday weekend than a meaningful celebration. I think the only way to get Easter focused more on Christ rather than Chocolate is for those of us who believe in it to go public rather than hide in church for the weekend.

Just a thought.


jsi said...

What a pointed article, a voice of saracasm, to be sure, but also demanding a reason why its supposed to be important.
When a person has not included the traditions of faith into their lives, the celebration of Easter seems quizzical.

The traditions of the celebration of the sacrifice of Jesus, His teaching, His Crucifiion and His Resurrection include the opportunity for every generation of believer to reach this time of year and ask the same questions: why is this important? Maybe not as sarcastically and flippantly as the writer of the article, but the truth is, every Christian must define why Easter is important-why it is relevant-why it matters.

It is important to include the discussion of faith matters in conversation with the people we spend our daily lives with. It is important for Christians to be public about the parameters of their faith.

My Lenten schedule is not just filled with obligations and responsibilities, but it is also filled with spiritual moments of prayer, meditation, refreshing connection with God.

A shake up and a wake up - that's what that article sounds like. It appears to be a challenge to have believers be persuasive about the faith they hold so dear.

Celebrate and embrace this Easter, the love story of God in the Resurrection of Christ Jesus. It is an amazing treasure, the holy mystery of it all - Christ in you, the hope of glory.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow

Unknown said...

Does anyone remember that March of Witness that a whole pile of churches got together to do on Good Friday?

What ever happened to that?

Anonymous said...

Thank-you for your thought. The giggling and singing got me thinking. I spend weeks preparing for Christmas, but what effort for the holiest time of th year? Thanks for provoking my thoughts about easter.