Tim Farron’s Easter Message

Here is Tim Farron’s Easter Message

There was quite a fuss the other week when the National Trust was condemned for taking references to ‘Easter’ out of its publicity for a chocolate egg hunt.  This led to angry responses from some in the church and from politicians, including the Prime Minster.

It turned out that the National Trust had done no such thing and that all those who had got so cross had to wipe the chocolate egg off their faces. It was a reminder that we shouldn’t be so quick to jump to conclusions and condemn.

The thing is, even if the story had been true, did it actually matter?  I mean, I hate to break it to you, but there is no reference in the Bible to chocolate eggs or generous bunny rabbits.

I fear that what the Prime Minster and others were actually getting wound up about was the thought that the National Trust might have been airbrushing out something comfortable and traditional. And given that we are turning the clock back to the early 1970s with Brexit (or indeed the 1580s if we do end up declaring war on Spain), then nostalgia is most definitely the mood of the moment.

I’m a Christian and I am cool with you eating eggs at this time of year if you want to. I will probably have some myself.

But it isn’t what Easter is about.

Easter is about celebrating Jesus’ death for all humankind – a death he went to, not begrudgingly or reluctantly, but willingly and with great passion. It was the mission of his life to make this selfless, complete sacrifice for others, and it is that which Christians across Britain and the world will mark and remember this Sunday.

Is it traditional to celebrate that? Well, maybe for some. But even for those of us who are Christians, we can do our own airbrushing of the story and allow it to become anaemic.

Nostalgia and nationalism have become the fuel for an aggressive and irrational brand of politics that is the opposite of what Liberals stand for. I don’t want the Christian message to be stolen by the nostalgic nationalists, just as no Liberal should seek to appropriate Jesus for their own purposes either.  But the Easter message is one of internationalism, if you like – Jesus died for you no matter who you are or where you are from.  And the Easter message is most definitely not about comfortable nostalgia, it is radical and disturbing.  People do not traditionally willingly exchange riches, glory and comfort for poverty, shame and pain – but that is what we see in the Easter story.

Christmas is cute and cosy, it’s about a baby.  Easter is about the death that the same baby would grow up to suffer.  It’s much more grim, no wonder people choose to displace it with chocolate.

But it wasn’t the end of the story. The resurrection means that this death wasn’t in vain – it’s the ultimate vindication which brings forgiveness.  That’s worth celebrating.

So, whatever you are doing this weekend, and whoever you are spending it with, I do hope you have a wonderful time – Happy Easter.

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22 Comments

  • I was surprised to find myself agreeing in part with PM Ms May’s Easter Message. I interpreted her message as saying that the perceived attack on our culture and values (which are fundamentally Christian, if no longer religious) was at the heart of the Brexit vote. But I do not see evidence that we are coming together behind her view that we must leave the EU. We were split almost equally between Remain or Leave. A polar choice. Everyone knows that you can’t have your cake and eat it. Or that You can’t be a little bit pregnant, you either are or your not. For me the European Project is still valid. So whichever route our Political Masters choose half the people are going to feel wronged. Now to me that means divisions in our society not coming together.

  • Tony Greaves 16th Apr '17 - 2:47pm

    Am I right to feel a bit queasy about the way the party leaders are suddenly talking about their Christian beliefs. I thought we lived in a secular democracy and a society which is increasingly both more secular and more multi-faith? Liberalism in particular is about the clear separation of church and state. Isn’t it?

  • Trevor Stables 16th Apr '17 - 3:15pm

    Thank you for this articulate message of what Easter is really about.
    As someone tweeted this morning does Theresa May invoking God at every turn really bear examination when one considers her rough treatment of refugees and deportations?

  • Geoff Skelton 16th Apr '17 - 3:41pm

    Just read Tim’s Easter message. Well said Tim. Speaking as a fellow Christian and fellow Lib Dem member I was heartened to read the true message of Easter as well as putting it in the political context too. I was in church celebrating the Resurrection earlier. How wonderful to hear Tim proclaiming the Good News. His message was better than many a sermon!!
    Given the depressing current political upheaval and worrying crisis in our world this is the message we need more than ever.

  • Katharine Pindar 16th Apr '17 - 6:30pm

    Thanks, Tim, for firmly reaffirming the Christian message of Easter. It does indeed, I agree, lead naturally to internationalism, and a commitment to the struggle for a better world for everyone, both our contemporaries and those who will come after us.
    Jim Bowles, it seems to me that if we are coming together at all behind Mrs May’s view that we must leave the EU, it is because some, probably many, now think it is inevitable – a view which we Lib Dems mostly don’t accept. But I don’t agree that whatever the outcomes, ‘half the people are going to feel wronged’, because the debate of the last few months has shown the complexity of the arguments which were short-changed in the run-up to the vote, but which have now been revealed.

  • Peter Watson 16th Apr '17 - 7:49pm

    “… no Liberal should seek to appropriate Jesus for their own purposes either. But the Easter message is one of internationalism …”

  • I’m afraid I take the view that religion should be a private rather than a political matter.

    I tend to agree with the closet agnostic Liberal M.P. Henry Labouchere when he said, “I don’t object to Gladstone always having the ace of trumps up his sleeve, but merely to his belief that the Almighty put it there.”

    Having said that, I have a great personal respect for Tim.

  • Jennifer O'Brien 16th Apr '17 - 9:03pm

    I don’t see why a practising Christian (which I understand Farron is) shouldn’t express his faith in an Easter message. I do think its a pity if atheist / agnostic politicians (Corbyn say) feel under pressure to draft an entire Easter message, rather than just wishing people well. Personally I affirm liberalism as the acceptance of diversity & equality and the affirmation of freedom of conscience – its not about saying that committed theists or any other minority should keep their heads down.

  • Geoffrey Payne 17th Apr '17 - 7:05am

    I am not a Christian myself but I do think the Bible contains many interesting stories and it is good to read how someone who is a believer makes sense of it for today.

  • Along with Katharine Pindar, Tim I thank you for your thoughtful message, and agree with your thrust that being a Christian inevitably leads to an internationalist concern.

  • Andy Coleby 17th Apr '17 - 8:16am

    I thought that Tim’s Easter message was brilliant.
    I believe in Christianity, but am personally not in favour of organised religion, but if it floats your boat then go for it.
    It is frequently not at all easy to follow either Liberal principles or Christian principles.
    I am fully aware of the idea of “judge not less you be judged”,but I have to say that the PM’s ignorant rant over the non story National Trust Easter egg farrago reveals
    that her interpretation of Christianity is nowhere near mine.
    Also to ignore the poor and unfortunate
    as her policies manifestly do is hardly Christian.

  • Robert - Bristol 17th Apr '17 - 9:08am

    Personally I have no interest in superstitious, religious faith but if it gets Tim and others out of bed in the morning and helps them through the day that’s great. I wouldn’t want to get in their way but I wish religious people wouldn’t get in mine. Outdated Sunday trading laws being one example.

  • Jennifer O’Brien 16th Apr ’17 – 9:03pm…………I don’t see why a practising Christian (which I understand Farron is) shouldn’t express his faith in an Easter message. I do think its a pity if atheist / agnostic politicians (Corbyn say) feel under pressure to draft an entire Easter message, rather than just wishing people well………

    Really? Corbyn’s, “I meet Christians, and others of all faiths and none on a daily basis, who share and live those ideals: people who give their time for others, to run food banks, protect the vulnerable, look after the sick, the elderly and our young people.
    “That spirit of respect for each other, peace and equality is one we can all share. So to all Christians and those of all faiths and none, have a happy and peaceful Easter.”

    Sounds a lot more pertinent than Tim’s “Chocolate eggs” and the “1580s”…Still where would an LDV Easter be without a ‘dig’ at Corbyn

  • I am all for Corbyn.
    Hopefully his leadership will lead to the
    demise of the authoritarian Labour Party.The Liberals can then rightly take their place once again as the true opponents of narrow minded, blinkered and ignorant Toryism.

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 17th Apr '17 - 11:13am

    I find it hard to comment on Tim Farron’s Easter message, as it left me with mixed feelings. Tim speaks movingly about Jesus’ sacrifice. Even those who have no Christian faith, can surely be moved by the Good Friday story, with its message of “Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends”.
    My problem with Tim’s message is that the Passion Story is too sacred to be used to make a political point. It just wasn’t appropriate to mention Brexit. I’m not saying that religion and politics can or should be kept totally separate. If someone has a strong religious faith, then of course their faith will influence their political outlook. It would be right to speak in general terms about how Christians should be concerned about the poor, and refugees. But to try to suggest that Christianity must lead to one particular viewpoint on something as specific as the EU just doesn’t seem appropriate.
    Tim Farron’s remarks about Jesus being internationalist, and not nationalistic, were thought provoking, but it is open to debate whether this is an accurate description of Jesus’ outlook. It is true that Jesus believed his message was for all humankind. But it is also true that he was, in a sense, nationalistic, in that he loved his country passionately, and believed that it was the greatest nation on earth. He avoided directly political utterances, and made it clear that his mission was not political, but I think it’s fairly clear from all that he said about his nation, that he would have preferred it to be free and independent of Roman rule.

  • What a wonderful, powerful and clear message from Tim Farron.

    May he go on comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable.

    Exactly what Jesus of Nazareth did.

  • I fear if we continue to make use of religious festivals to make political points (however much we agree with them, or any religious ideals used to make them), we are in danger of weakening both. Can we please discontinue doing so.
    (I speak as a devote Christian.)
    At Christmas we could instead make a New Year’s/End of year message, maybe Easter should be replaced with a Spring message (a time of new life). And to not miss out an opportunity others are taking, we could simply make the point we won’t mix these two – we can hold both or one as we choose but not use either to further our end ends (be they religious or political).

  • Toby Keynes 17th Apr '17 - 6:21pm

    I welcome Tim’s expression of his religions beliefs. It does seem particularly appropriate that he should be expressing them during what has traditionally been a religious festival (and remains so for many).

    I don’t feel in the least bit queazy about this. If I can talk about my humanism, and how it affects my daily life and my political philosophy, why can’t he talk about his Christianity?

    A truly secular society, after all, is one in which the state does not seek to impose an official religious belief – or non-religious belief – on anyone, and in which we are all free to express our beliefs. And that includes politicians.

    Having said that, I’m not comfortable when Tim says that “Easter is about celebrating Jesus’ death for all humankind.” That’s what Easter is about for Tim and for other Christians. For the rest of us, it isn’t.

    It was pretty much inevitable that someone else would follow by declaring that Tim’s version was “the true meaning of Easter”. Easter means many different things to different people. For me, it’s about celebrating the coming of Spring, and about family.
    These are just as true for me as the Christian message is for other people.

    So please let us show a little respect. I can find meaning in Easter without declaring that mine is the only true meaning, and I hope others can too.

  • Diane Reddell 17th Apr '17 - 6:39pm

    Actually Easter was a pagan festival similar to Christmas – Christianity borrowed some of the traditions – https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/belief/2010/apr/03/easter-pagan-symbolism

  • Peter Watson 17th Apr '17 - 9:16pm

    @Louise
    He’s not the Messiah, he’s a very naughty boy!
    OK, not really, but I was a little discomfited by your comment about Tim Farron, however much of a good bloke he might be. 😉

  • @ Diana Reddell

    Diane Reddell 17th Apr ’17 – 6:39pm
    ”Actually Easter was a pagan festival similar to Christmas – Christianity borrowed some of the traditions ”

    Incorrect. The Christian celebration of Easter has more connection with Judaism and the Passover than paganism, even if one or two non-essential customs have been assimilated or borrowed over time.

    For Christians, the central message of Easter, Pasqua (in Italian) – or Pascha – as it is known by the Eastern Orthodox, for example, is as Tim Farron describes:

    ” Easter is about celebrating Jesus’ death for all humankind – a death he went to, not begrudgingly or reluctantly, but willingly and with great passion. It was the mission of his life to make this selfless, complete sacrifice for others, and it is that which Christians across Britain and the world will mark and remember…” (at Easter).

    This is why the event of Jesus’ death on Good Friday is hailed by Christians as ‘Christ our passover lamb, has been sacrificed.’ This sacrifice is not considered by Christians to have been in vain, for on the third day he rose again, according to the scriptures.

    Lumen Christi.

  • Peter John Lumsden 7th May '17 - 8:56pm

    Toby Keynes makes a good point. I am a Christian, and go with most of what Tim said, but i differ with him (I think) on ‘the ultimate vindication which brings forgiveness’ (I don’t think Jesus’ death was a pre-condition of forgiveness). As Toby says though, this is TIM’S view, and should be presented as such. I do not think we should be coy about discussing faith in the public square, indeed, a bit more that would be good in raising the level of religious literacy – the dearth of this is one of the underlying causes of some of the tensions we face today.

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