Monday, 9 February 2015

Announcement: The Easter Story

It's nearly pancake day! That means that lent is soon upon us. For most people, Lent is a time when you pick something to give up (wine, chocolate, Facebook, etc.) and then struggle for forty days, with the momentary slip that fills you with a sense of guilt and failure. I'm pretty sure that is the point of Easter, isn't it? No.

This year, I want Lent to be a reflection on what Easter is actually about. For the last two years or so, I've been preparing a series to run through the period of Lent and Easter. It's taken so long because it's needed a lot of research and I've been playing around with the format. I've also been trying to work out what needs to be included and what I can miss out.

This is not the usual presentation of Easter. I don't start with Palm Sunday, then work my way through the Passion Week. (Oh, how clichéd!) Instead, I start with the Garden of Eden and go from there. I may have shot myself in the foot with that, as it's quite a large remit. (What are you writing about? Oh, not much. Just the history of humanity from it's start to the what is, in my view, the most important event in human history.) But that's why I wanted to do this. The crucifixion is such a massive event. It's a word that's so much bigger than the eleven letters that make it. I wanted to somehow show a glimpse of the enormity of what happened.

Choosing which episodes I wanted to write about was actually relatively simple. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of moments in the Bible that capture a part of why the cross was necessary. However, there are some where it seemed so evident they just fit perfectly into what I wanted to do. Then, I had to decide whether to go on chronologically or thematically. I chose the latter, so the story is told in various episodes that flit through different parts of the Bible. We have stories from Genesis, Deuteronomy, and of course, the Gospels. They are all, hopefully, threaded together to show what a beautiful, tragic and amazing event the crucifixion really was.

I also had to think about how I was going to present it. I love telling stories, so at first I was going to go for just that route. I have retold the events of the Bible in my own words, in order to highlight some of the themes and ideas expressed in the passage. I also wanted to allow readers to see a glimpse of what seventh century BC Jerusalem may have been like, or what it was to stand on the Plains of Moab thousands of years ago. I was a little worried, because I don't believe the Bible does need retelling. It cannot be improved by the likes of me. The Bible is such a beautiful book, I simply wanted to grab some of those moments or phrases and show them to everyone. But, I was happy enough with the outcome. I tried to be as accurate as possible, using other sources or reading around the Bible to find clues as to what it might be like.

But still, this what not enough. The scripture is so full of resonating words and ideas, I could not leave them alone. Perhaps it was because my writing wasn't up to the task of showcasing the delight and wonder that could be found in the smallest verse. I felt the need to say, "This is why this is important. See how marvellous it is!" So, some of the stories come with a commentary.

There are a dozen or so stories that are going to be published every Wednesday from Ash Wednesday. There'll be an extra one on Palm Sunday, then, once we hit April, it gets a bit more crazy. There is one every day until we reach Easter Monday.

Hopefully, you'll enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

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