I am dad to five children, who are growing up fast. The eldest of them is shortly to turn thirteen years old and the youngest (‘the surprise twins’!) have just turned four years old. I have plenty of years of singing bedtime songs under my belt! I wonder for how much longer?!...
A favourite in my household – or, at least, with me (!) – is ‘Hot Cross Buns’:
One a penny, two a penny, Hot Cross Buns;
One a penny, two a penny, Hot Cross buns;
Give them to your daughters, give them to your sons:
One a penny, two a penny, Hot Cross Buns.
Perhaps it needs a bit of updating these days, what with prices being the way they are? Twenty-five pence a bun seems to be the going rate, these days: that's five shillings, as my Nanny was wont to say!
But we have been doing some other ‘updating’, haven’t we? When I was young, Hot Cross Buns were reserved exclusively for Easter. You couldn't find one in the shops before Good Friday. But most of our supermarkets have been selling them since January, alongside Easter eggs, some of which I saw in the shops immediately after Christmas. Why have we ‘updated’ our habits, in this regard, I wonder?
If I ruled the world, I'd make a law reserving the sale of everything to its due season: no fireworks until a week before Bonfire Night; no Christmas decorations in the shops until the beginning of December; no Easter eggs until a fortnight before Easter Sunday; no Hot Cross Buns until Good Friday itself.
I guess we all live in a "wish and get" culture nowadays. If we want something, we want it now. Buy now and pay later. We can't be bothered to wait. We live life in a rush. We demand instant communication, through our mobile phones and our emails. And these things are wonderful, but we let them run our lives a bit too much.
Shortly, we will celebrate Good Friday, the most solemn day in the Christian year. It's the day when Christians remember the cruel execution of Jesus outside the walls of Jerusalem in about AD 33. Christians, though, call this day "Good" Friday. How can the judicial murder of Jesus, God in human form, be considered "Good"?
Because the death of Jesus, in ways no-one fully understands, is the price that Jesus paid for our forgiveness. This wasn't a cheap "buy now, pay later" transaction; it was a "come on into the Kingdom of God: I've paid for you" transaction. It was the greatest deal ever struck.
Words from a great hymn, now:
There was no other good enough
to pay the price of sin;
he only could unlock the gate
of heaven, and let us in.
So enjoy your Hot Cross Bun on Good Friday, look at the cross on it, and remember.
Go well. Your pastor, priest and friend,
PS Why not join the prayer & worship at St Peter-in-the-Forest this Good Friday, or indeed journey through Holy Week and into Easter through any of our special devotions? God is waiting, patiently, to meet with you, there.