Happy Easter!

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Easter Eggs: Food for Thought

By Ruth Filmer

Happy Easter!

‘EGGS!' stated my four year old confidently. He was most definitely referring to the chocolate variety rather than poached, boiled or fried. I was asking him questions about the true meaning of Easter and filming his response to send to school as part of his home education for that day. I had spent the morning prepping him on the Easter story, we had read it in his Children’s Bible, we had explored the Kids Bible app and completed the activities. Now was the part where I filmed his responses and he showed an incredible understanding of the Easter story far beyond his years. At least that’s how it went in my head anyway. But in reality, this very normal four year old couldn’t get the excitement and vision of mountains of chocolate eggs out of his head.

And let’s be honest, Easter wouldn’t be Easter without Easter eggs! Even in faith filled Christian households, we give our kids eggs and can even be guilty of putting more emphasis on the chocolate than the Easter story itself - without which we wouldn’t even have eggs, or salvation...

According to Cadbury’s, the Easter egg market is worth £220 million in the UK alone and this is rising each year. Over 500 million Cadbury Creme Eggs are made each year, two thirds of which are consumed in the UK. If you stacked all those Creme Eggs on top of each other, the pile would be ten times taller than Mount Everest! Even in this current climate of limiting food shopping to once a week or as infrequent as possible and only shopping for essential items, there has been some debate as to whether or not Easter eggs should be considered ‘essential’.

An article on BBC News states that in some areas local police and councils are telling shops they should not be selling chocolate eggs, which has caused uproar in those areas. Others say that it is ok to grab your Easter eggs if you are shopping anyway and that chocolate is a necessity in this season of being so isolated... we need it to get us through! And Easter eggs are still largely available to purchase in supermarkets and convenience stores.

There is such a huge market for Easter eggs that understandably many other products have jumped on the bandwagon and created Easter egg versions of themselves. From gin to golf accessories to perfume, you can gift just about anything in an Easter egg shape box. You can even buy an egg made completely of cheese - the ‘Cheester Egg’. Our society seems obsessed with Easter eggs at Easter!

So where did this tradition of giving eggs at Easter come from? It used to be common practice for priests to give up eggs during Holy Week or sometimes throughout the Lenten period. So when their chickens laid eggs that week, they were boiled and then decorated and given to children in the parish on Easter Sunday (I’m not sure my children would be too impressed with this today!).

An egg can represent new life and a new beginning in keeping with the Easter story. There is also the symbolism of an egg as a tomb and a baby chick emerging from the hard shell as Jesus emerged from the tomb, demonstrating new life. This all begs the question, how have we moved so far away from the truth of Easter, putting our focus and finance into chocolate, completely missing the incredible life changing truth of the resurrection of Jesus?

Let’s get really honest for a moment. So many of us are bought in to this culture of giving and receiving Easter eggs but what do they actually do to point us towards Jesus? They taste amazing, yes. It’s one of two occasions in the calendar where it’s not frowned upon to stuff our faces with yummy-ness (the other occasion celebrates the birth of Jesus, what is it with Christians celebrating gluttony?! Maybe that’s for another time...)

Maybe we just love an excuse to eat chocolate because it has been scientifically proven that chocolate makes us feel good and lifts our mood. It contains an amino acid called Tryptophan that contributes towards the production of serotonin, one of the ‘feel good hormones’, which makes us feel happier and more at peace. But when the chocolate is finished, we are just plumper and no closer to Jesus. There is very little about an egg-shaped mass of chocolate that encourages us into a deeper relationship with Him.

Before you jump me for boycotting Easter eggs, I’m not suggesting we should stop the giving of chocolate gifts at Easter time (mine’s a Twirl if you’re asking, I’ll take a Crunchie too...) but there must be more. Because when all the chocolate has been eaten, what are we left with? Chocolate may make us feel good for a while, and giving away chocolate makes us feel good too, but when it’s all gone and done, what about our normal everyday lives? Do we feel good then?

The whole reason we celebrate Easter is of course to remember the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross and to celebrate his rising again. We all know the story but have we understood the immensity of it and have we let it change us?

The gospel of John records Jesus’ words to the disciples during the last supper in chapters 13 to 16. He gives a kind of summary of his teachings and is bringing hope to the disciples ahead of what he knows is going to be a difficult time for them. He says,

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

‭‭John‬ ‭14:27‬ ‭ESV‬‬

These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

John‬ ‭15:11‬ ‭ESV‬‬‬‬

Jesus wants us to live with peace and joy despite what we may be going through. That doesn’t mean we don’t go through bad times, that’s not realistic. And Jesus is saying these words knowing he is about to be arrested, tortured and killed. He is saying them to the disciples whom he knows are going to be scared as they go through intense challenges over the next few days as they see their teacher and hero killed. They will fear for their own lives to the point of denying they know Jesus.

We all go through bad times. Some of us turn to chocolate to get us through... some of us escape into movies or Netflix, some of us become addicted to things we know are bad for us but feel we need it to cope. But there is another way.

At the end of their time together sharing in the last supper, Jesus challenged the disciples with a question, ‘do you now believe?’ Then Jesus ended his encouragement to the disciples by saying

These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

John‬ ‭16:33‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Then he was arrested and ultimately taken to the cross to die.

No matter what we are going through, whether it’s related to the current coronavirus situation or something else, Jesus is the only one who can give us peace and joy in the midst of terrible circumstances. Sitting around a table with his disciples knowing he was about to be taken from them, he challenged them to a life of peace which starts by believing and trusting in Him, the one who died but who also rose again. The one who overcame the world. The one who defeated death, meaning we can live forever. The one who defeated the devil, meaning we can live in freedom from anything that threatens to bind or control us. The one who knows you by name and loves you unconditionally.

The whole point of the cross and resurrection was to bring us into deeper relationship with Him. To break down all barriers between us and God. To give us life. As you munch on your hollow Easter eggs, take a moment to think about that empty tomb and consider whether your life reflects this freedom, peace and joy.

And ask yourself the question, ‘do you now believe?’