17th April 2023

“I didn’t think protestants celebrated Easter,” remarked my lovely colleague from Portugal. Somewhat shocked, I tried to relate something of my experiences of Easter in the UK. A few days later a friend shared her holiday video clips of elaborate Holy Week processions through the streets of Cartagena in Spain. I talked to my colleague again – they have similar processions in Portugal – no wonder she had assumed we didn’t mark Easter here!

At Easter on Kythira in Greece we witnessed street processions too, albeit rather different ones. We were somewhat baffled by the Good Friday service, but glad to be part of it. What we did understand was the warmth and the generosity of the welcome and hospitality we received from the family of a friend of ours – they invited us be part of their Easter Sunday lunch. The beachside tavernas were full of families, friends, neighbours, and strangers (us!) gathered to eat spit-roast lamb. Once lunch was over the dancing began – drawing in the very youngest to the very oldest. I don’t think we have anything that’s inclusive in quite that way in this country? It felt very special.

This all leaves me pondering how we best respond to the exhortation as Christians to “Be ready at all times to answer anyone who asks you to explain the hope you have in you” (1 Peter 3:15). When do actions speak louder than words? When are words needed to explain the actions? What might my colleague’s comment lead us to want to do differently? Is there something about inclusive hospitality and welcome in the mix?

Ruth Allen