In December we are bombarded with Christmas messages of celebration, cards, texts, songs and presents. I happen to love all the fuss and celebration but I know that others believe it all to be too commercial and over-the-top. We can respond by shying away, keeping it simple and feeling negative about the Christmas rush?
Or maybe we should just celebrate Easter too, pulling out all the stops to show that Easter, and the amazing story of love and sacrifice that it represents, is real and important to us.
Sometimes Christians retreat at Easter, concentrating on abstaining Lent practices, extra services and a time of spiritual introspection. This can be a beautiful time to draw closer to God but it could also be a time of reaching out and sharing the stunning news of Jesus’s death and resurrection.
It is a great time to invite your neighbours and their children round to make some Easter crafts. Decorate cup cakes with mini eggs and little chicks. Make Easter cards with lots of yellow feathers(there are great kits available if you need some inspiration). Fill paper cases with chocolate covered crispies. Growing up in Scotland we used to hard boil eggs, paint them, then roll them down a hill on Easter Sunday morning. A great visual reminder of the rolling stone, and a lot of fun too!
For your adult friends maybe you could invite them round for coffee and simnel cake. If you can’t bake, then try a chocolate egg tasting session. Perhaps you could just bring in a selection to the office canteen and celebrate together at coffee time.
Or if time is pressing and you can’t organise a get together, this might be the year to send a message out in a new way. Send an easter card to someone you know who might be interested in finding out more about Jesus. Send a text message to lots of your contacts on Easter Sunday morning – Happy Easter, He is Risen! and see who responds with what! Or this might be the time to post an Easter message on your Facebook status – put your faith out there as a declaration that you are celebrating Easter.
However you choose to mark Easter this year, don’t miss the opportunity of sharing Jesus with someone who might need to hear about Him in 2011.

Simnel Cake Recipe (with thanks to the BBC)
Ingredients:
•560g ready made almond paste (***marzipan)
•450g dried mixed fruits (currants, raisins, sultanas, glace cherries)
•80g candied chopped peel
•225g all purpose/plain flour
•Pinch salt
•1 tsp ground cinnamon
•1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
•175g butter
•175g fine/caster sugar
•3 large eggs, beaten
•Milk to mix
•2 tbsp apricot jam
Preparation:
Heat the oven to 325°F/170°C/Gas 3

•Line a 7 inch cake tin with parchment or greaseproof paper.
•Divide the almond paste into 3 and take one portion and roll it to a round the size of the cake tin.
•In a large bowl mix the mixed dried fruits, peel with the flour, salt and spices.
•In another large bowl cream the butter with the sugar until light and fluffy. Add the beaten egg to the butter mixture a little bit at a time, beating well after each addition.
•Carefully fold in half the flour and half the fruit into the egg and butter mixture, once incorporated repeat with the remaining flour and fruit.
•Put half of the cake mixture into the tin, smooth and cover with the round of almond paste. Put the remaining cake mixture into the tin and smooth the surface carefully. Bake in the center of the oven for 1 hour.
•Lower the heat to 300°F/150°C/Gas 2 and bake for 3 hours until the cake is golden brown. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin.
•Roll another third of almond paste, again to the size of the tin. Make the remaining almond paste equally into 11 tiny balls.
•Once the cake is completely cool, remove from the tin and brush the top of the cake with apricot jam and cover with the disc of almond paste. Place the 11 tiny balls of paste evenly around the edge. Brush the paste all over with a little apricot jam and place under a hot grill until lightly browned.
•The cake can then be decorated as you wish with tiny Easter eggs or any other Easter theme.

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