This article first appeared in Itchen Valley News March 2021 edition
A real sense of excitement is starting to build! Don’t you just love this time of year? Even though the frost may be a recent memory, the bulbs are pushing their way up through the recently laid compost, the days are getting longer and we may be finding our way out of lockdown! At the vaccination centres there is an atmosphere which reminds me of the London Olympics – of course, it is wonderful to see firemen and soldiers delivering the injections, but I think it is the volunteer marshalls who really set the tone, happy for those going to get vaccinated, excited to be involved in something quite so successful, proud to help turn the nation around.
But this time of year is exciting for something else as well. Easter is round the corner. One of the things I have missed both this year and last (because of the pandemic) is my annual trip to our two local primary schools to explain about Easter. One Head years ago told me that she could do most assemblies, but that Easter really foxed her….and indeed how do you explain to a group of children from 5 to 11 about this most supernatural of events in history?
I am not sure whether it was entirely wise, but I chose to explain Easter using two bananas – a green banana and a ripe banana. I asked the children what would happen if I left a banana outside – we agreed that it would rot (if it didn’t get eaten before). Bananas go from being green to going rotten. I said to the children that it is the same with human beings. We all go from being green and young (like them) to being old and ripe (like me) and, sadly, eventually we will all die. I said that everything in the universe runs down; everything moves from order to disorder – I said that (although I was no scientist) I understood this was called ‘entropy’ and involved the second law of thermodynamics: unless something else intervenes, all things eventually cease to function, they rot. ‘So (wielding the green banana) I said ‘if you imagine this green banana is a person, he/she goes from being young (like you) to being (here picking up the ripe banana) old like me. It’s the way the universe is…
Then I showed them a picture of Jesus as a baby and then a picture of Jesus on the cross. I explained that Jesus was a real person crucified by the Romans in Jerusalem in about 30AD. But Christians believe that Jesus rose from the dead and that’s what we celebrate at Easter. That Christians believe that if we trust in Jesus, even though we die, we too will come back from the dead one day. So, I continued (wielding the green banana), if you imagine that this banana is a person, he /she goes from being young, to being old (picking up the ripe banana) and eventually dying.
But Christians believe that there is a third banana! That we go from being young to being old, to being young again, if we trust in Jesus, we will come back from the dead one day.
Well, I am not sure that this explanation works better on the page than it did in the assembly. Indeed, even in the assembly I got a lot of puzzled faces. But as we see around us in our beautiful Valley the bulbs springing up everywhere out of the dead leaves of autumn and the frost of winter, we see that principle of re-birth is modelled for us every year in nature. Its exciting. It fills us with hope…