“Yeah, I like Easter. That’s when our Savior died, and we get lots of chocolate,” said the four-year-old boy eating a marshmallow bunny. With modern commercialization it’s easy for kids to be confused about the true meaning of the holy days.
To many of us Easter was one of the two times during the year when you really “ought to” go to church. That meant a new dress, maybe a hat and new shoes, too. My daddy always made sure the women of the family had a spring corsage to set off the new outfit. Then there was the bunny thing with baskets, egg hunts and “lots of chocolate.”
We often attended the community sunrise service on Jamestown Island in Virginia when I was a little girl. What a beautiful setting! An old rugged cross (to my young eyes it looked as tall as a building) with the rising sun sparkling on the James River in the background. I fully expected Jesus to come walking out of the clouds, arms extended in welcome.
And the songs with lyrics like – “Up from the grave He arose,” “He lives!,” and “Christ the Lord is risen today.” They were so jubilant, so filled with hope and the promise of a new day coming.
As an adult I was in the Handbell Choir. We played outdoors on the hillside at the church sunrise service. At the 11 o’clock service we were situated in the balcony. To those seated below it sounded like bells ringing out from heaven with the good news of Christ’s return.
Our Easter dinner usually included ham, mashed potatoes, green beans, hot rolls and coconut cake. Of course, the kids never ate much. They were already stuffed with chocolate, candy eggs, jelly beans and Peeps. And spent the whole day running around with a sugar high!
One year my daughter and I were without transportation on Easter Sunday. A man at our church dropped off his construction truck for our use. Dressed in our finest finery we decided to throw a clean sheet over the cracked, torn and grimy seats of the truck. Then we climbed in and took off for church! We arrived on time and emerged from the vehicle looking as if we had just stepped out of the Vogue-mobile instead of the twenty-year-old rattletrap with the rusted-out panels and a truckbed full of shingles and tar paper. We laughed and laughed and laughed.
When my daughter was eleven, she asked a friend to spend the night. Sunny was her name. I was taken with her sunny personality and her curiosity about everything. She was very bright. Since it was springtime I decided to ask her about Easter. I wanted to know what she knew.
“Uh, the Easter bunny? And candy and stuff?” she answered.
“Would you like to know the real reason we celebrate this holiday?” I continued.
“Well, sure. Tell me.” So I did.
She couldn’t believe she had never heard this before. I couldn’t believe it either. She was amazed that Jesus died in such a horrible way. She was amazed that He died that she might live. She was amazed that He didn’t stay dead, and that He is alive today! At Kid’s Camp two months later she gave her heart and life to Him in gratitude for what He did for her.
“Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?’ ” — John 11:25-26 (NIV)