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I do not much follow football these days, but as a boy growing up in the 1960’s I was a huge Liverpool fan. Their legendary manager Bill Shankly came out with many memorable quotes especially: “some people say football is a matter of life and death – I can assure you it is much more important than that”. 

He is also credited with saying; “if you do the right things, the results will look after themselves”. This is a truism of much wider significance than football. If you want the right outcome for your life, it is important to do the right things.Get the input right and the outcome will take care of itself. There are always exceptions, of course. 

I much prefer this philosophy to the vacuous drivel we often hear wafted around on programmes like Britain’s Got Talent: - “you can be anything you want to be”. This is clearly not the case. I wanted to play rugby for England, but although I trained hard, I was obviously not good enough. I started to learn to play the guitar many years ago, but sadly as I lack any musical ability whatsoever, I cannot be a string virtuoso even if I really want to be. 

It might be encouraging in the short term to be told that you can be anything you want to be – but if you do not have the raw talent to become that thing, before long disenchantmentwill surely follow.

This age of superficial sentimentality needs to be peppered with reality. As we approach the Easter weekend, many will hear a message of hope. There will be suitably scripted plays on radio 4. The BBC will surely broadcast a service from Westminster Abbey. We will hear many fine sounding platitudes: “Easter is a time for optimism; the resurrection is a demonstration of new life.”

In general terms this is true, and I celebrate it - but it is important to read the small print. It is there in the Gospels. The message of Easter is that God has done everything necessary to bridge the gap between him and human beings, by sending Jesus to die for us and taking the punishment we deserved. But we have to believe to receive the benefit of this amazing intervention.

This Easter, don’t go for the superficial version. Religious clichés and faith are not the same thing. Believe and discover real hope. 

Happy Easter to all.