imp's Easter Sunday Sermon
- EASTERTIME AND THE LAMBS OF GOD
It is the Lenten season and as Easter draws near, the stores are
overstocked with greeting cards that depict baby lambs frolicking in
green meadows or running through flower-filled fields with the little
children who are as innocent and carefree as the animals with whom
they romp. And for the more religiously inclined, there are cards
which depict the Christ, so often portrayed as the Good Shepherd. He
is shown tenderly carrying a lamb who looks lovingly into the face of
its protector. The messages inside these cards speak of love and
renewal--of new beginnings.
The fashion industry also uses these springtime images of
resurrection and new life to sell Easter outfits. Newspaper ads use
drawings of wild flowers and little lambs, implying a connection
between these pastoral images of innocence and youth and the people
who will wear the clothes.
During this season it seems that the whole world rejoices in the
exuberant lamb and the springtime world into which it has been born.
And although most of their readers live in a world of concrete
sidewalks and hi-rise buildings, even THE NEW YORK TIMES joins in
this celebration of things pastoral. In fact, one of their columnists
became quite poetic in her appreciation of springtime, in general,
and little lambs, in particular. In the Sunday Magazine section Molly
O'Neill wrote, movingly, that "animal and shepherd wander the grassy
knoll without destination or care, a romantic idyll of innocence and
freedom." She went on to say that "even without religious
implications, young lambs invite a communion with nature."
Then Molly tells us how to achieve this communion with nature: Kill
and eat the carefree, young lamb. She is a food editor, and the
headline of her column explains her position: "A Little Lamb Eats
Ivy: And clover. And fennel. And Garlic. Which Explains Why it Tastes
So Good." She goes on to praise the lambs for eating those things,
because their diet provides "built-in seasonings" for those who will
In this article, Molly continues to writes lyrically about her
subject. She informs her readers that because baby lambs are "born in
the month just prior to their slaughter, they will have grazed on
young grasses like clover or on the salty marsh grasses of France and
Ireland. The delicate herbaceousness of the meat is like an edible
postcard from the animal's hometown."
In addition to her definition of lambs as "edible postcards" this
food editor reports her theological insights regarding the slaughter
of those innocents. Ms. O'Neill informs her readers that
in "sacrificing an innocent we acknowledge the basic human paradox,
that in order to live we take life." (Note: she does not even try to
claim that we HAVE to take life in order to exist.) In her role as
theologian/chef, Molly also explains that "those who baste the lamb
after letting its blood, for Easter or Ramadan, feel chastened and
protective. Reminded of their darkside, they look forward to the
These uplifting thoughts are followed by her recipe for "Baby Leg of
Lamb." A full-color picture accompanies the article. It is an artsy
photograph of a giant, raw lamb chop, haloed by the golden flames
which will soon make it an "edible postcard."
But it is not only the semi-sophisticated readers of THE NEW YORK
TIMES who accept this obscene juxtaposition of praise for
the "innocence and freedom" of the newborn lamb with a recipe that
calls for "2 legs of baby lamb (4 lbs each.)" Most people live with
this schizophrenic contradiction.
An Easter catalog, "Expressions of Faith: Christian Cards and Gifts"
arrived in the mail. It is definitely not for the sophisticate and
there are no artsy photos. Both the illustrations and the text are
best described as "precious." But the contradictory message it gives
is the same as that which is found in more urbane publications.
One of the catalog's offerings is an Easter card series called "Warm
& Whimsical." The first one features a baby lamb, delighted by the
spring flowers that surround it. The inside message says "May the
beauty of God's creation brighten your Easter season."
This is a chilling sentiment when one realizes that for those who
receive these cards, the little lamb who expresses the "beauty of
God's creation" will probably "brighten" the season by ending up,
dead, on their plates for Easter Sunday dinner.
The catalog also offers Easter place mats for sale. Baby animals form
the motif: cuddly bunnies, tiny chicks, and of course, a little lamb,
are depicted. A prayer--grace before meals--is also printed on the
mat. "For flowers and lambs and birds that sing, we thank you, Lord,
for everything. Amen."
Do those who order these mats say this particular prayer of
thanksgiving just before they cannibalize the lamb on their dinner
Why not? Many who honor Jesus Christ celebrate his escape from the
grave by condemning to death tens of thousands of gentle lambs. They
will be brutally slaughtered so their corpses can be devoured on
Easter Sunday--with thanks to God, and in honor of The Good Shepherd.
"Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do."
Copyright 1998 by Humane Religion.