Unlike Good Friday, I've always found it hard to be really sad today, mostly because I'm so busy with preparations for the Easter Feast at home and at church, but also because, well, I know how the story ends.
I mean, tonight is the Great Vigil. It takes a lot - even for this mostly mature adult - to be patient through all the readings when you know the ending is going to be so spectacular and wonderful.
There's something in me - the little child within - that keeps jumping up and down whispering loudly, "Get to the empty tomb! Get to the empty tomb!"
There are other stories, however, stories you think are so predictable in their dreariness, that come along and surprise you, any way.
+++Rowan (you know, the Archbishop of Canterbury) has been such a disappointment on so many levels - equal rites for LGBT people, women in the episcopate, the Anglican Covenant - that it's surprisingly nice to have something positive to say about him for a change.
Damien Thompson, religious editor over at the Telegraph, UK, reported this story which first appeared in The Church Times.
Alex Renton is an atheist who sends his six-year-old daughter Lulu to a Scottish church primary school. Lulu's teachers asked her to write the following letter: “To God, How did you get invented?”
Reportedly, the Rentons were taken aback: “We had no idea that a state primary affiliated with a church would do quite so much God,” says her father. He could have told Lulu that, in his opinion, there was no God; or he could have pretended that he was a believer.
He chose to do neither, instead emailing her letter to the Scottish Episcopal Church (no reply), the Presbyterians (ditto) and the Scottish Catholics (a nice but theologically complex answer). For good measure, he also sent it to “the head of theology of the Anglican Communion, based at Lambeth Palace” – and this was the response:
No, I'm not overly fond of the theology - I do find the play with the words "discover" vs. "invent" to set an interesting and helpful tone - but I'm sincerely impressed that the man took time to write to little Miss Lulu Renton.
Here's what Lulu's dad reports as her response to the Archbishop:
I found photos of him on the Internet and showed them to Lulu. She rather liked the beard. I explained a little of who he was and what he did and stood for (that would have been harder if we’d had a letter from the Pope).By Jove, I do believe this child has all the makings of a good Anglican.
She listened quietly as I read the Archbishop’s letter and it went down well. The idea of God and his story of the world worked particularly.
“Well?” I asked when we reached the end. “What do you think?”
She thought a little. “Well, I have very different ideas. But he has a good one.”
Indeed, I suspect she just might grow up to make a really fine Anglican bishop - the Anglican Covenant and +++Rowan's bumblings not withstanding.
Won't it be great fun to wait and see how this story ultimately ends?
We live, as one of the prayers in the Book of Common Prayer says, in "sure and certain hope".