As we celebrate Easter 2017, many memories flood my mind. Possibly you had some of the same experiences that I had. Easter is a good time to remember family, friends, and the Truth: Jesus is alive and living!
As a boy, growing up in the Rose household, Easter was the most important holiday. Dad bought Mom a beautiful yellow corsage to wear on Sunday. She always bought a new dress and wore a hat. Dad, and us boys, usually got a new suit and dressed our best for Easter Sunday services. We always had an “Easter Nest” in the morning full of colored grass, chocolate eggs, and candy. After church and lunch, we visited the grandparents, and took lots of pictures with our “Brownie.” Grandmother Rose made a lamb cake each year and we always finished it off.
In college, our choir was usually on tour over Easter break. One Easter, our Harvester Choir was in New Mexico. The next year our Kings Choraliers was in Ohio. One year with the Tempos Choir, our Easter Sunday morning service was canceled through a scheduling error. Our sponsor called another church and they gave us the entire Easter morning service!
In Milwaukee, the local churches combined for regional Good Friday Services. Every other year, we would invite a nationally-known speaker to preach at the noon Good Friday service. On the alternating years, local pastors spoke. My first year out of college, they asked me to be one of three ministers to speak in the service. We were each given 10 minutes. The favored pastor was assigned the character of Jesus. The next in line was assigned the repentant thief. That left me with the unrepentant thief. For the bulletin, we were required to give a title for our 10-minute message. The title I chose was, “You can hang around Jesus and still go to hell.”
It was in Milwaukee that I took our entire youth group to a Sunrise Service at a local Lutheran church. Since our church had never had a Sunrise service, I thought it would be great for them to have the experience. At 6:00 AM, we invaded a nearly empty sanctuary of solemn older adults. Keeping dozens of teenagers quiet was impossible. The service started with all the pomp and circumstances that a liturgical church can muster. The 6-member robed choir sang in either German or Latin, and there was the smell of incense in the air. We were so confused as to when to stand or sit or kneel, that an usher came to me and told me to get my group under control, or we would have to leave. Finally, when Communion was offered, the same usher told me that we could not participate because we were not members. He pointed to the door, and we slipped out, not too quietly.
After Sue and I married, we combined our Easter heritage, and taught our daughters to love Easter, too. Sue decorated our home with festive bunnies, chicks, and ceramic eggs. We had Easter nests on Easter morning, and Sue made a wonderful meal. Now our daughters carry out similar traditions with their own families.
But the best part of Easter is the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the grave. No matter what your traditions, the real story is that Jesus is Alive! So, keep the Truth alive, too. Tell somebody!