Ramble for Kirwan Uniting Church Keeping in Touch pew sheet 27 March 2022
No sooner was Christmas out of the way for supermarkets, than hot cross buns appeared on their (otherwise pandemically sparse) shelves. We bought some a few weeks ago, they are scrumptious warm and slathered in butter. But some folk are offended at their early appearance, thinking that it is irreverent to mark Christianity’s most solemn and holy day before the event. A silly reaction, because hot cross buns were probably developed more as a marketing ploy by an enterprising mediaeval baker than as an aid for teaching the faith. Offended types are even more horrified by the plethora of exotically flavoured buns. These include a hot cross bun bacon butty, a hot cross bun burger with chicken and cheese (KFC), a Vegemite (Marmite in UK) and cheese bun, even hot-cross-bun gin liqueur flavoured with notes of caramel, raisins and spice (Aldi). A prominent UK cleric, Dr Gavin Ashenden, an honorary chaplain to the Queen, rails that manufacturers are “doing the devil’s work” by defiling buns with caramel, chocolate and cheese. These “warp the symbolism” of the cross.
But look: The doughy exotica still bear that distinctive cross. If a consumer doesn’t twig the meaning of the cross on an “orthodox” bun, adding chocolate or Vegemite hasn’t made any difference to their, er, indifference. So it is foolish of Christians to want to shut down a pathway to a possible moment of enlightenment. If it takes a Red Leicester-infused bun to trigger neurones to ask “Wonder what that cross is for?”, then that’s the Spirit’s work, not the devil’s. Anyway, St Paul says (1 Cor 18) that that cross is foolishness. But to us who believe, it is the power of God to salvation.
So enjoy your Vegemite and smashed avo hot cross bun, and share them around to give yourself an excuse to mention casually, “Do you know what this cross is for?”