I have a lot of nice memories of a lot of wonderful Easters. They date back to my earliest childhood years and now that I think of it, a lot of those nice memories had something to do with church. Growing up, my mother and father made sure we attended church services on Sunday morning as a family. I don’t really remember much about the worship service beyond the fact that I was, as so many young children are, bored to tears. But Sunday worship was always followed by Sunday dinner – usually some form of pasta and sauce, Lasagna or Manicotti, something very Sicilian.
Easter was different. Easter meant new clothes and shoes, photos in front of the house in our new attire and like most middle class families back in the ‘50’s in my hometown, Easter dinner, which usually consisted of ham, potatoes au gratin and some kind of green bean casserole. It was a day to hunt for the Easter eggs we had cooked, colored and decorated the night before. It meant candy…not too much though – Mom didn’t want us to ruin our dinner – and it meant family – my grandparents, aunt, uncle and cousins would soon be joining us to share our meal.
But Easter Sunday always began with church and worship, just like it does for me now. There was something vital and alive about Easter morning then and there still is today. It began early and it began with a sense of something about to happen…I anticipated that something though I didn’t really know what the day would bring. I imagine, for the women who came to the tomb expecting it to hold the body of Jesus yet finding it empty, they also anticipated something, though they may not have known quite how the day would be. Certainly, there was moment of sheer dismay and despair when they didn’t find the body of Jesus. They had, afterall, come to anoint the body and prepare it for burial, but where had it gone? They entered the tomb with their hopes for a triumphant victory crushed under the weight of what they had witnessed at the cross. And now this…the tomb was empty and instead of finding Christ, they were confronted by the appearance of two men in dazzling clothes – two men who assured them that their hope was not lost…Christ was indeed, alive!
Church and faith really have played an enormous role in my life. That little girl who dressed up for Sunday service so many years ago could not have imagined that one day she would be standing before a congregation and affirming, as minister, pastor of that church, the truth that Christ is indeed alive. Christ is alive in my life and in yours. Just as those women who came to the tomb had a story to share, we have a story to share too. Each of our stories is a bit different but our presence here today is evidence that our lives have been anointed, not for death and burial but for hope and eternal life in Christ Jesus, our Lord and Savior. May you tuck this day and all it means to you into the bank of memories you hold with all those many memories, which remind you of faith and family. May you give thanks to God Almighty for all God has blessed you with today and into your tomorrows. Christ is Risen! Alleluia! Amen.