You cannot go from Palm Sunday Hosannas to Easter Day Alleluias without the shame and agony of Good Friday. This defining fact of Christian witness to Jesus who 'did not enter glory before he suffered pain' has scandalised and attracted the world in equal measure. Even those who believe are warned by St Paul not to 'empty the cross of its power'.
In a dramatic re-telling of the events of Holy Week by a diverse group of Year 3 pupils from Peter's CofE Primary School, at their Harborne parish church, the cleansing of the Temple was as noisy as the later shouts of 'crucify him, crucify him'. Here it was possible to observe the natural curiosity and wonder of children as the human-divine story unfolded and to see the spiritual given its proper place in a country that cherishes whole-hearted education.
A Passion Play moving between Birmingham Cathedral, Cathedral Square and the Old Joint Stock theatre during Holy Week has given the opportunity for members of the public to reflect on the astonishing events leading up to the first Easter Day.
At the same time an intense and confused debate has been rumbling over the roles and effect of culture, ethnicity and faith in schools, particularly in Birmingham. Starting with anonymous allegations, 'Trojan Horse' issues have become national news with calls for improvements in school governing bodies, proper arrangements for assemblies and good human resources management. These changes will not in themselves build confidence among communities that feel misrepresented, nor will they win automatic appreciation from those who feel threatened by differences they neither like nor understand.
This deeper work of cross-cultured relationship-building is the responsibility of all citizens, and one in which Christians and other people of Faith can play a full part. Two brilliant examples of this in our own region are Near Neighbours and The Feast.
Meanwhile a Birmingham City Council Review on Education, chaired by Stephen Rimmer, assisted by Ian Kershaw, will be established this month in which I hope the voices of Faith will be heard clearly alongside other witnesses.
Our common calling to Love God and Love Neighbour is easily received by children. I expect we will unite in common cause to ensure that every child in the city region receives an excellent education with a full, universally agreed, syllabus so that they grow in knowledge and skills, body and mind, spirit and truth.
This Easter let us look beyond a Commissioner from Westminster to the Saviour of Nazareth and take responsibility for crossing cultures inspired and empowered to live together, rejoicing in our God-given diversity.
Christ is Risen, He is Risen indeed!
The Rt Revd David Urquhart
Bishop of Birmingham