Easter holds deep meaning and memories of all shapes and sizes for each one of us. Here are a few thoughts and recollections from our team. We'd love for you to share some of your own with us, too!
As a child, Easter Sunday morning always brought with it the sunrise service. Growing up on a Pennsylvania farm with a breathtaking view of the wooded valley below, our property was always chosen as the de facto location for this annual tradition.
While it was often a challenge for us as kids to get up before dawn, it was also a rare privilege to take part in the singing of reverent hymns by watery sunlight, greeting the world before it had yet fully woken. Our shoes tracing paths through the frosty meadow grass, our clouds of frozen breath imitating the rolling fog burning off in the sun's first rays--what a resounding chorus of praise to the Risen Lord! What an honor to join nature's choir all around us in awe of His mercy and grace!
I can't compete with Ben :) In fact, I can't think of anything sacred related to Easter. I remember going to JC Penney's to pick out a new suit for Easter Sunday and then we had to wear that suit ALL day long. I have lots of memories running around looking for Easter eggs in a suit.
For me, Easter was all about the candy. Foil-wrapped, melt-in-your-mouth chocolate and gobs of jellybeans. I think Cadbury Eggs held the top spot in my heart, with Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs a close second.
But as an adult, Easter became something very, very different in my life. Something wonderful and real. Now the holiday for me is a great time of reflection and celebration of the God who loves me in unimaginable ways.
Last year, God chose to bless my husband and I on Good Friday. We gave birth to our second son on the anniversary of the day God gave us the most amazing gift through His Son. I remember lying in the hospital bed reflecting on this, tears flowing as I was simply overcome with the love He had for me.
Don’t get me wrong, I still love Easter candy. But life’s so much sweeter now that I understand what this amazing day is all about.
I appreciate the act of foot washing at Easter time. (Stick with me. I know it sounds gross!). I grew up and now attend a church that invites people to participate in foot washing once a year (in a Thursday evening service the night before Good Friday).
I won't lie ... the act of serving others and having others serve me in this way is definitely a bit awkward and strange. Yet it is also extremely humbling. I'm always reminded in a dramatic way of how Christ humbled himself - at any cost - to love, serve and then lay down his life for each one of us.
So this year? I'm looking forward to tonight's foot washing service!
Every Easter my mother would make me a dress to wear to church. She did this until I became a teenager. My mother would also wrestle my two younger brothers into suits and ties, which only happened once a year. We always had Easter egg hunts at my grandparents’ house with all of our cousins. Our parents hid the eggs all over the four-acre yard, and it took us a very, very long time to find them all. I think our parents purposefully took advantage of this, in order to keep us busy. Months later, in the summer, we would sometimes come across an egg that had not been found on Easter. Sometimes we would even eat the candy that was still inside it.
I can still hear it now. The deep billowing voices of the men in the pews singing, "Low in the grave he lay, Jesus my Savior, waiting the coming day, Jesus my Lord!"
As they sang their two lines, so low and solemnly, I started to get excited knowing that the ladies’ part was coming up! You see, today, Easter, was the only day of the year that we sang this rousing hymn. And, it was a song that warranted full, LIVELY, joyful and energetic praise – a rare thing in the serious church I grew up in.
This one song, “Up from the Grave He Arose (Low in the Grave He Lay),” stirred in my heart and made me nearly shout the words of adoration, “Up from the grave he arose!” As a young girl, I felt free and invigorated about God. So amazing and rare for me! We never sang songs like this in my staunch and legalistic church. Songs that resonated Psalm 98:4 (NIV, not KJV), “Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music.”
Thank you, God, for planting that seed of jubilant song in my heart at such a young age, and for leading me to a church now where we are free to shout, burst and dance in worship!
I didn't grow up in the Church, so I don't have many early Easter memories that would go beyond hunting for eggs and getting an Easter basket full of candy (which I loved!).
So my favorite memory is more recent. About five years ago, my church (www.golove.org) launched our first-ever Saturday evening service - in which I was heavily involved in the planning and leading of worship. As we approached our first Easter weekend, we considered how to approach Easter on Saturday night. In a church where we would normally begin our Easter Sunday with a rousing exclamation, "He is RISEN! He is risen indeed!," we pondered: How do we share that greeting, when many might look at Saturday with lingering somber Good Friday feelings and Christ hypothetically still in the grave?
Being a congregation that places a value on joy and good-natured humor, we put a quick twist on the traditional Easter celebration greeting, and recognizing that some of world's time zones precede ours - and that Easter morning was already underway elsewhere - we shouted enthusiastically, "He is RISEN. He is risen in Guam!"
For me, this is a tremendous reminder that even on Good Friday and the Saturday that follows, even as we wrestle with the significance of the pain and suffering of our Savior ... Christ is NOT in the grave and regardless of the day or time zone, HE IS RISEN INDEED! Forever and ever, Amen.
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