Many of our most powerful memories are forged in childhood, and for baby boomers like me, Christmas and Easter were always highlights.
As an adult, those days have huge religious significance for me, but for my childhood self they were more practical events of joy and celebration that everyone could share in, whether they were Christians or not.
With Easter now upon us, many people will remember the joy of anticipating Easter Sunday, and the exciting Easter egg hunt that was an integral part of that day. Even after many decades I can still remember the excitement of suddenly discovering brightly coloured foil-wrapped eggs in all sorts of unlikely places in our suburban backyard. And somehow Easter egg chocolate always tasted superior to any other chocolate we might have had during the year.
When it became my turn to hide the eggs in the garden for our two sons to find, it was necessary to put labels on the eggs with their initials, otherwise the older one would have enjoyed a huge stash while his little brother found very few. And Easter Sunday is not a day for deprivation and tantrums when they could be avoided with a little parental forethought…
Good Friday was always a more sombre day, but there were traditions we enjoyed honouring, such as delicious poached smoked cod for lunch, and the long queue at the fish and chip shop for dinner. It just wouldn’t have seemed right eating any other way on this special day. Morning tea was always warm and fragrant buttery hot cross buns. To this day, I refuse to eat them before Good Friday, even though you can start buying them just after Christmas.
Once I became a Christian, these special Easter Days took on a huge significance, but the practical, edible aspects were still a vital part of both days.
The difference for me as an adult is that Easter is the central part of my faith. After walking the journey through Lent with Jesus, imagining how he must have felt during his 40 days in the wilderness, we come to Palm Sunday, when he is welcomed and celebrated as the answer to everyone’s problems in that famous procession into Jerusalem. But mob adoration can quickly turn, as it did on Jesus, when people misunderstood the kind of kingdom he was promising.
Each Good Friday, tears come to my eyes when I hear his words while being crucified, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” A heart-rending plea that many of us can identify with when going through some particularly bleak period of our lives. But then on Sunday the church is full of light and joy, with the worship leader saying about our Lord, “He is risen!” and we enthusiastically reply, “He is risen indeed!”
Each Easter we are reminded of the promise of eternal life in Jesus—what a message of joy to take to the world!
Alongside our toasted hot cross buns for breakfast and Easter chocolate for dessert, of course…