Bishop of Shrewsbury: Do not airbrush Easter

A Shropshire church leader has used his Easter message to attack the “weakening” of the Christian festival.

The Catholic Bishop of Shrewsbury Mark Davies
The Catholic Bishop of Shrewsbury Mark Davies

The Catholic Bishop of Shrewsbury accused some of attempting to “airbrush” Easter out of the bank holiday weekend.

The Right Reverend Mark Davies also called on Christians to claim back Easter.

He spoke of the controversy surrounding a Cadbury’s Easter egg hunt at National Trust properties, which had simply been referred to as an ‘egg hunt’.

Cadbury and Nestle have also been criticised by Christian groups for missing the word Easter from their chocolate eggs. Both companies insist there has been no “deliberate decision” to drop the word from packaging, with Cadbury saying the word Easter is embossed on the actual egg.

Bishop Mark said: “In recent weeks a chocolate manufacturer and a national charity may have sought to airbrush the name Easter from this public holiday.

“And a recent survey of national opinion also produced some confusing results as to what the British people believe about Christ’s resurrection and the life of the world to come.

“ Even in the marketing an egg trail or a public holiday, the weakening of the Christian memory matters, insofar as it contributes to obscuring the very vision of human life and destiny which has sustained our national life for almost a millennia and a half.”

He said Christians in Shropshire should fight against the watering down of Christianity in the British public holiday, by spreading the word about their faith to friends, family and work colleagues.

He said people who come to him seeking baptism have different stories to tell, but “each one has met a witness – a husband or a wife; a friend or family member or a colleague at work”.

Bishop Mark will give his address at his Easter Sunday service at Shrewsbury Cathedral tomorrow.

Large supermarkets and DIY stores will close completely because of the Easter trading laws, leading to an expected rush to the shops today.

The Bishop of Lichfield, the Right Reverend Dr Michael Ipgrave, used his seasonal message to urge people to use the pause that Easter Sunday brings to life to allow them to consider the role of the church.

The Bishop, whose Anglican diocese includes Shropshire, said: “The more news we hear, watch or read, the more we can feel that the world is a dark, divided and depressing place. But the message of Easter is a message of hope.”

Bishops providing messages of hope

The Bishop of Shrewsbury

Right Rev Mark Davies Bishop of Shrewsbury.jpg
Right Rev Mark Davies

‘Now we are those witnesses …’

These words of the Apostle Peter echo for us on Easter morning. We are now the witnesses to Christ’s resurrection because we have come to know Him. We can as truly say as Simon Peter that in the Holy Eucharist ‘we have eaten and drunk with him after his resurrection from the dead’ and have received the mission ‘to proclaim this to his people’. These words have a special resonance for us at this Easter of 2017, dedicated in Shrewsbury Diocese as a ‘Year for Mission’.

In recent weeks a chocolate manufacturer and a national charity may have sought to airbrush the name ‘Easter’ from this public holiday; and a survey sponsored by the BBC produced some confusing results as to what the British people believe about Christ’s resurrection and the life of the world to come.

It is a confusion which perhaps arose from people being asked in a phone call about Christ’s empty tomb and the hope of eternal life in much the same way as questions might be asked about a commercial product or a political choice.

The resurrection of Christ and our hope in the face of death can never be treated as matters of quick comment or casual speculation: they constitute the historic and transcendent event and the faith-filled conviction which has shaped our history, our world and all our lives.

Even in the marketing of an egg trail or a public holiday, the weakening of the Christian memory matters, insofar as it contributes to obscuring the very vision of human life and destiny which has sustained our national life for almost a millennia and a half.

Saint Peter’s words remind us that from the beginning of the church faith has been communicated by those who could truly be witnesses. I think of the hundreds who, year after year, gather in this cathedral seeking baptism or reception into full communion. They all have different stories and yet, invariably, each one has met a witness: a husband or a wife, a friend or family member, who somehow gave testimony to the risen Christ, alive and living among us.

On Easter Day, we are called anew to recognise this mission entrusted to us and to see: “Now we are those witnesses.”

The Bishop of Lichfield

Bishop of Lichfield Michael Ipgrave
Bishop of Lichfield Michael Ipgrave

One of the loveliest of the Easter stories in the Bible is Luke’s description of two travellers walking on the road to Emmaus after Jesus’ crucifixion.

They are not in a good mood – dejected, hopeless and disillusioned by what has happened.

Then an unknown stranger meets them on the way, shares with them a message of good news, and joins them for a meal.

As he breaks the bread, they realise that the stranger is Jesus, and they feel that their hearts are burning within them with rekindled hope.

Over the last six months, it has been my privilege to travel widely across the diocese, visiting communities, schools, churches, projects, and workplaces in Shropshire, Staffordshire and the West Midlands.

Young people in village schools caring for a fellow pupil with disabilities; asylum seekers meeting together to share with enthusiasm their new-found Christian faith; people taking time to look out for and listen to those suffering from dementia; churches and mosques twinning with one another to serve their local communities – these are just a few examples of so many good things going on in our area.

The more news we hear, watch or read, the more we can feel that the world is a dark, divided and depressing place.

But the message of Easter is a message of hope. As we learn to walk together, we meet unexpectedly with people who inspire and encourage us and we sometimes find that, like those travellers on the road to Emmaus, our hearts are burning within us.

That is what St Chad, the first Bishop of Lichfield, found when he walked around Mercia 14 centuries ago; it is what I have found for myself today, and it is the direction of travel on which churches, schools and communities across our diocese are embarking.

We are inviting everybody who wishes to join us: ‘Come, follow Christ in the footsteps of St Chad’.

We’ll be exploring this further at a celebration at Lichfield Cathedral on May 20 and you can find out more on our website lichfield.anglican.org.

 

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Comments for: "Bishop of Shrewsbury: Do not airbrush Easter"

Nemo

I am not sure where in the New Testament it mentions Easter Eggs, Easter Bunnies or even Easter Monday!

MrW

There isn't, but retailers decided to hijack it with their commercialism.

PJS

No-one is 'weakening Easter. Both the posters for the National Trust events and the TV adverts prominently featured the word 'Easter'. And the whole 'egg' thing long pre-dates Easter anyway - Christianity hijacked a number of pre-existing festivals for their own purposes.

If Christians are so confident in their faith why do they feel so persecuted when there is nothing to feel persecuted about?

MrW

They feel persecuted due to the constant negativity by the media and certain 'groups' who complain when they wear items confirming that Christian faith but don't about other faiths, hence hypocrisy and double standards.

Live and let live. You have your opinion and many others have another, if they are different there's no need to ridicule, just accept views of people are different, it's what makes us who we are as human beings.

PJS

Where am I ridiculing anyone?

As for people being 'banned' from wearing items that confirm their Christian faith, they haven't been - they may have been banned from wearing jewellery in the workplace, and crosses etc. fell into that category in some cases, but it's a bit like the story of Birmingham supposedly 'banning Christmas' some years ago - there's no real substance to it.

And there's nothing in the Christian faith that puts an obligation on people to wear religious symbols, whilst in other faiths, there is. As you say, sometimes you have to live and let live, rather than assuming an affront or bias where there is none.

MrW

I didn't say you were.

In my last paragraph I was making a generalized comment.

Happy Easter ;o)

Terry

Just hold on there.

The church is the organisation that does the 'airbrushing'.

I caught the start of the morning service yesterday before turning it off in disgust as usual.

The story was of a boy who was ashamed of his mothers damaged hands and stopped asking friends around. He was then told they got damaged in a fire saving him when he was younger from falling in the fire so he then told his friends who were horrified that they were hands that showed love for him.

Sweet hey!

Now another Easter story also about religion.

My OH's father was a church goer, forced them all to church twice on a Sunday etc. Marriage was not too good. My mother in law always said if she'd lived with him first, as me and my OH were able to, she'd have never married him. My OH grew up with that strained relationship the only escape being weekly boarding school followed by W/E of bullying from church loving father.

He said "no wife of mine will go to work," so she wasted her optometry training. After her third child, aged 34 she developed Rheumatoid Arthritis and her hands became very distorted. Around this time OH's father started '**obbing' the family firm's secretary who obligingly told him that RH was bought on by the sufferer themselves.

He didn't want to be lumbered with a disabled wife so it all ended with divorce and in the 1970s this was far more humiliating for a woman.

He continued to be the paragon and church warden of his local Cof E and there were 200 at his funeral the happiest being his now wealthy second wife, ex secretary who we understand had purchased a sports car before his body had even dropped into the hole!

Mum is still with us 12 years on. Had an enjoyable successful job after the divorce though was unfairly cheated out of her financial share of the marriage but always was and still is cared for by her children.

Second wife still alive too having had an apparent wonderful 12 years sailing, living in Dubai and still also heavily involved in the local church loving the one up man ship it offers.

He used to talk about being humble but he deserted his family, looked after number one and was basically a spoilt man, to a degree a victim of his own damaged father who did not fight on the Somme as he had to run the family animal feed firm in WWI and consequently felt very guilty when two of his brothers died and the third and youngest got gassed and lost a lung.

We are not bitter nor do we need to feel forgiveness. The church however is a very questionable institution that has damaged many a life with it's petty rules, falseness and hypocrisy.

MrW

I think you are letting your personal experiences prejudice your point of view, that's not a criticism, but just an observation.

Many people find solace in their faith and collective prayer, there are many genuine people within the church as an organisation, but like any organisation there will always be a few 'bad eggs' (no pun intended at Easter!).

Live and let live.

Terry

Not my personal experience MrW.

If only we could live and let live but religion will not allow that!

rationalist

Once again it seems that the religious "leaders", who hold positions that have no biblical authority, have chosen to airbrush the truth from their statements. As has previously been stated the whole National Trust/Cadbury story has been shown to be false. A fiction created to demonise certain sectors of the population. Minimal research is needed to verify this and yet these "leaders" either choose not to verify the story or to ignore the truth for their own purposes - not very Christian! The dilution of Christianity at Easter is most welcome. It is inevitable when the Church going population has fallen to insignificant levels compared to those of no faith or other faiths.

The prominence afforded this story is out of all proportion to the significance of religion in a modern society or perhaps the Shropshire Star would like to seek out adherents of the Goddess Oestre & ask for their opinions on the air brushing of their religion by Christianity?

R Suppards

Science triumphs over fairy tales and an educated population is too knowledgeable to allow fantastic unprovable ancient myths to dictate how to live their lives. None of the religious life-after-death and suchlike type promises have ever been shown to have the slightest grain of truth. "My religion / deity is better than yours and if you don't agree I'll shoot you / blow you up / send you to Hell and the everlasting fire." Wow, fantastic credo, no wonder times are hard in the church business.

Terry

I'd have admired the church if they'd pointed out how rubbish the chocolate is since Cadbury's sold out!

jim jams

Terry's is much better...lol

Jett

The Bishop has a point regarding Cadburys and it's also the reason why the Archbishop of York told us missing the word Easter off a Cadbury’s Easter egg hunt is “tantamount to spitting on the grave of the founder of Cadbury”. But they don’t go far enough. It’s literally worse than digging up his body in a devil-worshipping ceremony broadcast live to his descendants while melting the world supply of fruit and nut bars.

It’s especially upsetting because the founder was a Quaker, and Quakers are known for their extreme anger, and insistence that the path to God involves wild exaggerations involving minor misdemeanours that didn’t actually happen.

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