When I was a pastor, I wrote a song for our youth choir to sing on Easter. The keyline was, “Shout hallelujah, it’s Easter day.” This is what I am thinking about as I put my thoughts together for this Spring Issue of THE CALL.
During this year of sheltering in, Pam and I have experienced more quiet time being still and remembering special times with our family. We missed their birthdays, the birth of our 4th great-grandchild and the 1st great-grandson of my late brother, Tommy, as well as the holidays that usually brought us together in joyous love.
We have come through a difficult year, but Easter is coming, it’s time to shout ‘Hallelujah!’ It’s time to praise God for our feelings of HOPE! Memories take us back to 1972, our first Easter in Claremont, CA. Traditions came with us from Tennessee, along with 4 children and our dog named Christmas. We actually had a rabbit named Easter later that year. That’s another memory, for now, I want to take you back to Easter Week.
Our tradition of stripping the branches from our Christmas tree and saving its pole for Easter began our Easter Week celebration. After the celebration of Palm Sunday with our children parading down the aisle of our church, with their palm branches, it was lunch and an afternoon of transforming the Christmas tree pole into a cross. Kimball Boyd (9 yrs. old) sawed the pole and Collie (7yrs. old) tied it with a strong rope and put it back in the Christmas tree stand. I placed it where the Christmas tree stood only months before. Pam draped it with a soft purple cloth. Kathy (5 yrs. old) and Cari (almost 4) picked flowers to go around it. It was the gathering place for our Holy Week devotions.
I remember the day so well. It was early morn on Good Friday. Before the children woke up I took away the soft purple cloth and draped a black one over the Cross. The flowers lay dead but I did not move them. Our boys had experienced this, and maybe Kathy remembered it too, but for Cari, to see that change broke her little heart as she ran to her room, threw herself on her bed, and cried. I followed her and sat next to her, stroking her hair and wiping her tears. “But Punkin,” I told her, “I have good news for you. On Easter, Jesus is going up to heaven to live with his heavenly Father and he left something for you.” “He did?” she said, “He did!”, I said. “He left his love and his spirit in you!”
With that Good News, she suddenly burst from her room proclaiming to all that she was going to ‘Hab Church!’ She and her big brothers turned our living room into a church while Kathy went to get the ‘people’ (Mooey, Mooey Cow, Raggedy Ann, and her brother, Andy, Mrs. Beasley, and Baby Tenderlove), plus our dog, Christmas. The candles were lit and the preaching began! Cari, with the cutest little speech impediment at that time, was the preacher.
“Now eberbody, today is a bad day. I don’t know why they call it a good day cause it don’t seem like it is to me. You see ‘dem dead flowers is dead, but on Easter morning they will be all growed new! And you see that old black ‘aterial on the cross, on Easter it’s gonna be white like snow. I know cause my Daddy tolded me so. “You don’t hab to be sad,” he tolded me…he promised me that Jesus libs for-e-ber!”
After her child-like sermon, Cari Beth led her congregation, with Kathy, playing their toy piano, in singing the Cherub Choir’s special for Easter, “He Libs! He Libs, Da Jesus Libs today!” Just as her Daddy assured her, our God assures us that He Lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives today. He walks with us and talks with us. You ask me how I know He lives. He lives within our hearts.
A simple, yet profound story that concludes with the news that Easter is about hope! Easter is about unconditional LOVE! Easter is about joyous praise of God ~ HALLELUJAH! Come on everybody, sing it with me!
He lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives today
You ask me how I know He lives
He lives within my heart!