Childhood memories recall that special Sunday every spring.
Mama put clothes on lay-a-way so that my brother and I would be dressed up for Easter. My dress was usually nylon and lace or chiffon with lots of petticoats. I wore new patent leather shoes and socks to match the color of my dress.
The outfit was complete with lacy gloves and a hat to match. My younger brother, James, wore new dress pants, shirt and a great tie. He sported new shoes and socks as well.
Mama usually had on a new outfit, and off the three of us went to church on Easter morning. Dad stayed home, as he was not a Christian at that time of our lives.
The church service was charged with joy and excitement. We first went to our Sunday school classes where we oohed and ahhed each other’s new frocks. Back in the sanctuary, we sang the old favorites, “He Lives,” “Christ Arose” and “One Day He’s Coming.”
After the morning message from our pastor and exuberant worship time, we moved outside. There the men set up tables and ladies covered them with tablecloths and platters of sumptuous home-cooked food. Aromas of ham, roast beef, fried chicken, and all the veggies and condiments wafted through the festive air. Desserts were indescribable! Following our meal, the kids ran and chased each other until the call came to reassemble in the sanctuary for gospel singing. Around 4 p.m., we loaded the car and headed for home, sweetly exhausted from the day.
Several years passed and Mom took us to a new church in town where there was a wonderful youth group and loving pastors. We attended our first service on Easter Sunday. I was dressed all in green, and since I was very shy, my countenance may have been a shade of that color.
In teen Sunday school, everyone was nice and I gradually began to relax. Just as I started to feel comfortable in new surroundings, a young man sitting behind me tapped me on the shoulder. I turned to look at him and he was holding my new green hat in his hand.
“Is this yours?” he grinned.
I had not felt it fall to the floor behind me. Mortified, I quickly took my hat and turned back around. The rest of the lesson was lost on me as I burned with embarrassment.
Though humiliated, I managed to go back that night for the evening service. After all, it was still Easter Sunday. Following the pastor’s message to us, I rededicated my life to Christ that evening.
This became our home church. Here, I received the call of God to missions, met my husband to be, and experienced many other good things. The boy who handed my hat to me that Sunday was my husband’s cousin, and he became a minister in later years.
Dressing my little baby boy for his first Easter was a joy for me. His dad and I attended Bible college and became ministers. We traveled back to our hometown, where we served as youth pastors in our home church. I taught that same Sunday school class where I had once been embarrassed that Easter years before.
Many Easters have come and gone since we entered ministry. The churches we pastored led me to discontinue buying new clothes for Resurrection Sunday, since many of the ladies had no money to buy Easter finery. When we served as missionaries in India, Resurrection Sunday was celebrated for three days. I still remember the joy on the faces of the redeemed there, as they realized their savior arose and lives eternally. As pastors to military families in Germany, we prepared choir music to rival that in heaven.
So many Easters have passed, yet I still marvel at the thrill of Christ’s death, burial, resurrection and ascension to the right hand of the father.
Sandra Duffy Oliver is a Herald correspondent.