Did you pick up on this week's story of several major supermarkets refusing to stock 'The Real Easter Egg' which features Christian crosses and a leaflet which explains the story of the resurrection? While Morrisons, Tesco and Waitrose carry the eggs, which are not only fair trade chocolate but also donate some of their profit to charity, Sainsbury's and the Co-op refused to stock them. It seems Postman Pat or Darth Vader eggs were preferred.
Whatever you make of the commercialisation of Easter, I have to confess I've never been quite sure where eggs - particularly chocolate eggs - fit into the Easter celebrations, and if, as the two offending supermarkets claim, the decision was made based upon poor sales the previous year.
The most shocking aspect of the story for me is the reported comment, or was it a question, by one of the supermarkets' buyers, who said: "What has Easter got to do with the Church?" Maybe it's just a sign of our times, the product of the prevailing secular humanist narrative which so dominates the worldview of our society. But I was still shocked at such ignorance. How could a presumably intelligent product of a British education system who occupies a position of some influence in one of our large retailing outlets fail to understand the profoundly significant relationship between Easter and the Church?
While looking around for people to blame within our supposedly 'Christian' country, I could ask questions of our national broadcasters, the news and media outlets, our schools and institutions of higher education, but I also want to recognise the challenges this presents to us as a Church. With around 10 per cent of the population of the UK still in some way practising their Christian faith, how did we fail to get the word out? What have we been saying to the people that surround us?
The answer to the question 'what has Easter got to with the Church?' is of course everything.
Without the Good Friday cross or the Easter Sunday empty tomb there is no Church. There is no Christianity. The whole thing hangs and falls on Easter. Easter isn't something we as Christians can relegate to the footnotes, it's not an optional extra. It dominates our faith. For us, it's the watershed of history. If Jesus didn't raise from the dead, let's forget it all, let's give up, let's look for a better option, let's eat, drink and be merry because we know what comes next.
For the Christian, Easter speaks of a victory won, the crucified dead King of The Jews didn't stay dead. Because of these extraordinary events, death is defeated, the power of death and hell is beaten, sins can be forgiven and salvation is available for all.
Last year, members of our staff team at the Evangelical Alliance handed out more than 200 Real Easter Eggs to our neighbours in King's Cross. It wasn't just a chance to bless our neighbours, but an opportunity for us to tell them what we're all about: Jesus.
So as we hand out our Easter eggs this year, let's make sure those who receive them realise where Easter fits in, what it is we are celebrating, and maybe as we return to work next week, we'll be able to explain what we did over Easter and it might be able to include the Church celebrating the festival which defines its very existence.