Growing up in Louisa – Easter
Weekly feature . . . by Mike Coburn
The first I remember hearing of Easter, it was more about Easter baskets than about the holy week of long ago. It was a fun time of waking to an Easter basket full of chocolate bunnies, hollow candy eggs, jellybeans and cellophane grass. Like every other kid I knew, mom would dress me up for church in new, stiff and very uncomfortable leather shoes, a well-pressed pair of dress slacks, white dress shirt and tie, and a sports coat. One year I even had a three piece suit with a vest! My cousin Julia, would be dressed up in her pretty, pastel or flowery new dress, little hat with a netted veil, white gloves, and patent leather shoes. She would wear a corsage and carry a white leather bible.
I remember that church was always packed with the people I would normally see, but there were crowds of others, as well. Everyone had their ‘Sunday best’ and the kids would absolutely sparkle having been scrubbed down and with fresh haircuts and perms. Some of the new people were visiting relatives from out of town, but many were folk about town that were making their annual, or semi-annual pilgrimage because of the holiday. Later, after church, we’d go home and be pushed to change out of the new clothing before joining others to play, or dig into the goodies in the Easter baskets. I remember the warnings not to fill up on candy because dinner was nearly ready.
In the days leading up to Easter mom would have us take boiled eggs and decorate them by dipping them into little cups having a vinegar solution, each in a different color. We had a little twisted wire holder we would set the egg into so we didn’t get the color on our hands. Waxed crayons were used to draw or write on the egg shells so when the egg was dipped the color would not stick to the designs drawn. We sometimes wrote our names and then would take care to later assign them by the named parties to eat. Often they were tossed because of condition. They were subject to cracking so that the colorful shells would literally fall off. I think mom deviled the eggs once they were washed. I was always a fan of those delightful and tasty treats.
After lunch the grownups would hide Easter eggs all around the yard, usually tucking them into tuffs of grass, inserting them into bushes, behind flower pots, and up inside drain pipes. Once hidden, the kids would take emptied Easter baskets and gather all the eggs they could find. I remember cold or rainy Easters when parents hid the eggs inside the house. They would push them into cushions, behind pillows, on the window sills behind curtains, or even under jackets or afghans. A few times we’d find an egg days or weeks later that had not been found during the ‘hunt.’
It was in my early teens when I first heard with understanding the detailed story of Easter. I was listening to the preacher at the Louisa Methodist Church on Main Cross and Madison. I finally would understand the basics of the gospel. Over a life-time I would learn more and more about what Easter really means. It was a mystery to me as to why it happened and how mankind would make such a horrible mistake to actually kill an innocent man. Young people always seem to have a strong sense of justice, but they lack the foundation to understand. I often wondered about how the story of Easter was so simple, yet still very complex. I began to see the ‘upside down world’ we live in. The principles of life espoused by man are often the opposite of those teachings of Christ and others found in the Bible. So to fully understand the meaning of Easter, one must understand salient factors that we heard, but have not fully comprehended.
By nature, man knows he is fallen and often does things even he knows to be wrong. Man has tried to make amends by performing various kinds of penitence to find absolution. Confessions are made and remedies sought to ‘start over’ in hopes of pleasing a sinless God. Such actions proves a lack of understanding of the purpose of Christ’s suffering and death on the cross. Actually, it is an insult to God that says Christ’s death wasn’t enough. After all, if prayer, sacrifice, or punishment would result in forgiveness, then what purpose was the crucifixion? What little could we do, than what was done by the voluntary laying down of life by none other than the very Son of God? We must realize that there is nothing than when the son of God, the King of Kings, died for us. He has already fully paid for our sins.
The answer is it was done completely and finally by reason of His love for us. There’s nothing we can add. We can crawl on a pilgrimage, cut ourselves and take whippings. We can recite hours of prayers, and we can devote ourselves into religious service, but we simply cannot add to what was already done for us. What we can do is accept that sacrifice, be grateful, and bow our knees in gratitude. We can accept our place as servant and be forever beholding for a gift we don’t deserve and cannot earn.
“By His stripes we are healed.” Is that some strange dogma? No, it is a promise from the one with the power to make it happen. Did we ask for this? No, but it was given for us and is our only hope. Yes, He died for our sins, without regard of our weakness, but because there was no other way. It happened because of the grace of God and His mercy to us. Mercy was withheld from the one on the cross, so it might be given for us. That is upside down to man’s thinking. We want the guilty to be punished. We want the innocent to go free.
Look at how the world acts all around us. We are a mixed up people. Today, bad is good, or at least in the vernacular. It is the ‘dark side’ that is attractive, just as light is to a moth. We celebrate Christmas with Santa, and an office Christmas party that often has nothing to do with Christ. For Easter, we hide Easter eggs and pass out candy.
The real story of Easter is the impossible. Christ arose. He is risen, indeed. So here the man suffered, was insulted, spat upon, beaten, and nailed to a cross to bleed out and die. That was the payment for our restitution before the Almighty. Then, in a seemingly impossible move He arose from the tomb. That gives us the promise that we, too, may rise one day and find ourselves fully cleansed and forgiven. That is real cause to celebrate.
There’s nothing wrong in Easter baskets, candy eggs, jellybeans, and chocolate rabbits, nor in hiding or rolling Easter eggs about upon the lawn, but that’s not what Easter is really about. Like spring after a cold winter, the flower of redemption has risen. He is risen, indeed!