It's Easter Sunday! My favorite holiday. Really, my favorite day of the whole year. And I'm not required to say that just because I'm a pastor.
I was so lucky to grow up in a family that regularly darkened the door of our church, not just C'n'E (Christmas and Easter). Nonetheless, Easter was a huge family celebration. We would often go to two, three, sometimes four church services. Then a big lunch, and then Mom would sequester us while she went to hide all the treats. Easter was a much bigger deal than Christmas, present-wise. We would get candy, little trinkets, clothes, books, and more. Mom would hide them all over the yard, and we would collect as many as we could. Then we would sit and try to figure out which gift was intended for which person. I have so many happy memories of Easter sunrise services out at Clinton Lake, singing "Christ the Lord is Risen Today," and "Morning has Broken."
I find it so fitting that I have all of these happy reminiscences centering on my mother on the day in which we celebrate the ultimate defeat of death. In the same thought, I remember her, grieve the loss of her, and rejoice in the knowledge that death is a temporary separation.
It's been gorgeous weather the last few days (with the exception of thunderstorms wrecking Easter egg hunts across the county yesterday morning!). Dog, baby and self have been taking long, rambly walks. As we walk, I look down on my little one wrapped up tight against me, and I tell her the story:
"Today is Maundy Thursday. This is the day we remember when Jesus and his disciples gathered in the upper room for the last supper. We remember how he washed their feet like a slave, and then we remember how he said the words that I say all the time: 'This is my body, this is my blood.' And then we remember how one of his own betrayed him for money."
"Today is Good Friday. This is the day when Jesus died. We don't know what happened after he died on the cross. Some people say he went to hell and freed all the people there. I don't know, but that sounds just like something he'd do."
"Today is Holy Saturday. This is the day when everyone thought Jesus was dead and gone. His disciples were so sad. Now we just wait because we know how the story ends."
We don't do Easter lilies at Countryside because so many people have lily allergies anymore. As much as I loved those gorgeous displays of a wall of white lilies, I understand the reason it's impractical. But we do offer people the chance to buy different spring plants in honor or memory of loved ones. It was important to me to participate this year:
And when the handbell choirs play their shining choruses this morning, and when I go to join the choir for the Hallelujah chorus, I will remember the woman who ensured that I always knew the love of God that was so deep, so pervasive, so triumphant, that even death could not ensnare it.