We had a perfect Easter weekend. The weather was absolutely delightful with bright skies and warm sunshine. The trees were full of blossoms and we had old friends visiting who provided an excellent excuse to climb hills, bake hot cross buns, play games, and eat far too much. On Good Friday, they came to church with me in the evening for a Tenebrae service, and then on Sunday morning, we were had two services complete with celebrations of baptism and communion. Today, I’m feeling full.
I think the kids are, too. Blue has decided that this morning the garden is the place to be and I can hear him kicking a ball up and down the path. Plum’s snoozing for now in his crib, and Beangirl is sprawled on the living room floor with a book. A quiet spot on the morning. The neighbourhood feels quiet around us. Come tomorrow, there will be fuss and rushing and routine again and we’ll resume our busy ways. And that’s just right for Easter, too.
Because Easter happens in the middle.
Next Sunday’s lectionary describes the post-Easter period when the disciples were hiding away trying to make sense of what had happened. They must have felt like everything had come to an inconclusive end. But when Jesus appeared among them in the locked room, we read that they rejoiced. We have seen the Lord, they tell Thomas. But he didn’t believe their words. He thought that they had it wrong. This wasn’t what any of them had expected. At least, not at this stage.
The disciples believed in resurrection. They even expected it. They just believed that it would come at the very end of time. So inevitably, when confronted with that first Easter, they thought that history must be ending. If resurrection was happening now, then the world must be finished. Except it wasn’t. Life continued. There were meals to eat and times to gather. Days kept rolling on. A week and then another week. Just as they had always been, they were living in the middle. But now the middle was shot through with newness. And we are in the same place.
It can be hard work living the middle like this. It can make us look foolish. Naïve, maybe. Don’t we ever learn? Shouldn’t we learn from history? But if we are made new by Christ’s resurrection, then newness is our centre. We need to be open to see that resurrection doesn’t fit our expectations. New life can come anywhere and at any time. We need to see that things get better. That any of us can change or be changed. Than surprising life can come beyond death. That defeat isn’t final. This isn’t mere optimism – it is the knowledge that God’s loving forgiveness is the centre and that everything grows from there. There’s a new way of looking at the cross. An emanating centre, reaching out and up.
So I’m hanging on to this image of the middle. And making another batch of hot cross buns. Here’s the recipe I’m using – I nicked it from a grocery store magazine, changed up the details and it turns out just the way I like them – sweet and soft and fragrant.
Marzipan Hot Cross Buns
1 cup raisins and currants, as you like
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1 cup milk
5 tbsp butter
2 cups flour
1 tbsp dried yeast
1/3 cup sugar
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ginger
½ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp cardamon
½ tsp salt
½ cup marzipan, grated
3 tbsp flour
2 tbsp sugar
Put raisins, lemon juice and zest in a small bowl and set aside to let the raisins plump up.
Warm the milk and add the butter to melt. Cool to blood temperature, then add the yeast and let it sit for 5 mins or so until it blooms.
Mix flour, sugar, spices and salt in a large bowl. Add liquids and egg and stir well. When it comes together, tip it out onto a floured surface and knead until the dough looks lovely and smooth.
Shape it into a ball and set in a clean bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and leave to rise – 2 hours or so until doubled.
Add soaked fruit and grated marzipan to the dough and knead thoroughly. This is a sticky stage – you can do it in a stand mixer, but it’s also doable by hand. Just be prepared for stickiness and have a dough scraper on hand.
Divide the dough into 16 pieces, shape into buns and let prove again for about an hour until the buns are doubled again and springy to the touch.
Preheat oven to 350º.
To decorate, whisk egg and milk together and gently paint the buns with this wash.
In another bowl, beat flour and a couple of tablespoons of water together to make a thick, pipeable paste. Put this into a freezer bag, snipe the corner and pipe crosses on the buns.
Bake in the middle of the oven for 20-25 minutes.
Make a sugar wash with 2 tbsp sugar and 1 tbsp boiling water, then paint this on the buns as soon as they come out of the oven.
Eat up and enjoy.