Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Jif Lemon, dead religion & a trail all the way to Easter

Happy Jif Lemon Day - the official start of the Creme Egg Season! The climactic weekend of gorging ourselves stupid on our own body weight in chocolate is now only 40 days away, let the the countdown begin!

Nobody really understands Pancake Day anymore, apart from a few of our more religious friends who also happen to go to church the following day to have ash crosses painted on their foreheads. There is a huge disconnect today between our ancient festivals which used to mark the pattern of the year & our modern mindset.

Most of them we have happily buried in the past (I include the idea of having an ash cross daubed on my head) but some we have kept. Pancake Day, or Shrove Tuesday to the real aficionados, incredibly made the cut. When you consider that we have quietly disposed of maypoles & even harvest in our urban culture, it is amazing, downright extraordinary that millions will batter pancakes into submission around Britain tonight!

The truth is only 1 in 10 children under 16 believe in Jesus Christ. The recent survey from Exeter University sums it all up rather well. We are a post christian generation where even the christians don't understand the meaning behind their rituals. When 1/3 of Anglican priests have doubts about the resurrection, is it any wonder that we've ended up with dead religious festivals with no idea what they point towards? Who is going to tell the doubters & the unconvinced that this is an opportunity to prepare their hearts whilst they also prepare the batter mix? Who is going to let them know that our forefathers celebrated the life of a mysterious Godman over the Easter weekend way before we began importing the addictive cocoa bean?

For my money, we should embrace the festivals, make a song & dance of them again rather than push them to the sidelines. Wouldn't it be ironic if we could use a bit of old fashioned religion to bridge the gap between the truth & the least religious generation in history? If the boys & girls of Exeter are representative of their lost culture, then they are already so far adrift from the biblical worldview that we used to take for granted. That we might more readily engage such distant thinking through old religious festivals which help them join the dots may be just what they need. Like all emerging generations, they don't want us to tell them, they just need a trail to follow. It's our role to lay an enticing path all the way to Easter.

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