Column: Decorating the church with pineapples

The Ven Michael Everitt, Archdeacon of Lancaster
The Ven Michael Everitt, Archdeacon of Lancaster
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It was about 8pm on Saturday and I got a text from a friend. He’s a vicar in Liverpool and ‘a bit of a character’.

Just as we might give up chocolate for Lent so on Easter Day the Easter Eggs taste all the more sweet: so too in churches they often stop displaying flowers and then on Easter Day, when the flowers return, it feels as if the church is exploding with joy.

So my friend had told his flower arrangers, ‘no flowers in Lent’.

That Saturday he had popped into church and those who arrange the flowers were in, which surprised him.

“Hope you like what we’ve done Vicar,” said one. “You said no flowers in Lent and so we’ve arranged some dried grasses and pineapples.”

My friend smiled, offered a supportive comment and left quickly suppressing his giggles.

That’s when sent me the text, which finished with: “I’m a little at a loss to explain the significance of said fruit in my sermon!”

I grew up in a house which listened to radio comedies, including panel shows like ‘My Word’, ‘I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue’, ‘Just A Minute’. An excellent preparation therefore for the question: “What has a pineapple to do with Lent?”

My reply to him was as follows: “Externally spiky and hard, yet inside once used to the sharpness it is rejuvenating: a metaphor for Lent.”

The more I have thought about it since, the more apt it seems! I’m always amazed at how we found out certain foods were edible.

The pineapple’s exterior does not in any way hint at the juicy interior.

Getting into a pineapple is not easy. Once inside it still needs cutting up before we can experience the taste... a beautiful mixture of sharpness and sweet.

Perhaps more so than any other fruit it awakens the taste buds and forces a response (did you know it also contains an enzyme, bromelain, which can help with childbirth?).

Whether or not you like them - and I really enjoy a fresh pineapple - there is no denying the contrast between the dry and hard exterior and relatively soft juicy interior.

If you’ve not managed to get into Lent this year, because it is too hard, don’t give up! It is worth it. That which you will find inside will give you ‘zing’ and energy.

But whether you should use pineapples in place of flowers is a whole other matter!