Easter and all its trappings

Growing up, Warren and I had a very “Preacher’s Kid” type of Easter.  Some of those Sundays I remember vividly… mostly they run together.

I know that we always had a sunrise service and back in the 80s, this service started BEFORE sunrise so that you could actually WATCH the SUN RISE as you were meeting together.  Parham Hills (the church we grew up in) had this service OUTSIDE unless it was actually raining.  As PKs I remember getting there early (like really early) to help set up the chairs and such.
We dragged the sound system out (once we had one) so that there could be special music… this might be where I fell in love with Sandi Patty’s “Was It A Morning Like This”.  What better way to hear that song than being outside on Easter morning.

Then, we did some sort of breakfast.  Early on, I seem to remember going and picking breakfast up with my mom and bringing it back to church.  We had Opening Exercises (pledge, etc) at 9:50, Sunday School at 10 and church at 11 so there was no reason to go home after Sunrise Service.  Eventually, I think we started having some sort of breakfast at the church on that morning, but it may have just been donuts and coffee.

Parham Hills also had these fabulous wooden cribs that were built as one unit.  I can’t adequately describe them and I don’t have a picture, but they were such sturdy things that I’m sure one of the men in the church built them instead of buying baby cribs.  Once people had gone home after the Sunrise Service (the non-preacher’s family people), Warren and I often slept in the cribs.  I remember having to curl up into a ball to fit in one, but I still napped in them until PHCC relocated the nursery and those cribs were no longer.

Here is what I have NO RECOLLECTION of from my childhood Easters… getting an Easter Basket.

I know that we did… I remember the candy and such, but I have no memory of waking up to find them or coming home from church to find them.
So I called my mom and asked her about this.  Turns out, we got our Easter baskets on Saturday.
Apparently she had an arrangement with the Bunny that since we weren’t home on Easter morning, and he was too busy to bring our baskets to church, he’d just swing them by the day before.  She says the we had “Easter Saturday” and “Resurrection Sunday”.  (Christians still call Easter Sunday Resurrection Sunday).

Hmm…

This year was our 4th Easter with Ella.  The first we just dressed her up pretty and took her to church.
Oh, we DID get a picture with the Easter Bunny that year, too.

2009:
 
2010
Ella’s second Easter, she got a farm set from the Bunny (instead of a basket) and also got all dolled up for church.

  

2011
Last year, she got her first Easter basket as well as getting dolled up for church.
 

 But this year, something was nagging at me.  She needed to start to understand the REAL meaning of Easter.  Not that spending time with family isn’t great… or that getting candy and treats in a cute basket isn’t fun… but that isn’t the meaning behind Easter.  I needed to start my own tradition with her that will help teach her that Easter is about Jesus rising from the dead… the other stuff is fun extras and not what is important.

2012

As I sat on the sofa with Jeff on Sunday morning waiting for Ella to wake up to get her baskets I agonized over how I could make this year be the start of putting Jesus first in our Easter and not having Him seem like an after thought.  Suddenly, a God-inspired thought crossed my mind.  We had gotten her the Jesus Storybook Bible not too long ago and she really loves the stories in it – every single one has Jesus in the story, even those from the Old Testament.  So, when I heard her waking up, I jumped up and ran to her room, pulled the book off her shelf and we read the story about Jesus rising and the tomb being empty.

She even let me take the picture of her holding the book open to the picture of Jesus and Mary Magdalene.
Thank you GOD for giving me this thought.  We WILL read the story of the resurrection on Easter morning before leaving the bedroom… this WILL be our new family tradition so that we’re sure that JESUS comes FIRST.

Now, girl did get her baskets… one from her Great-Aunt Carla and one from the Bunny-dude (on whose lap she will not sit)…

Most of Bunny-basket is spread out; package in middle from her Granny Mac (a book) and basket from Carla on bottom right with lots of candy in it.  Glad that bunny didn’t include any candy in the one he gave her!!!
And then, we set off for church… 
This year was different.  We weren’t at the church I grew up at where all the kids would get together for group pictures on Easter…
Back row: Jeff Crenshaw, Pam Walls Strong, Lisa Walls Harford, and (little) David Felts
Front row: Robert Mason, Billi Jo Walls Byers, Arressa Mason Hudson, John Felts, and ME

And we weren’t at the church where Ella was born… where the people have been more like family and not just “church friends”…

Thad, Charlotte, & Troy Rich with Ella – 2010

 This year, we were at our “new” church.  We’ve been attending Fairmount Christian Church since January 1, 2012.  It has been quite a change.  Ella’s class has 10-15 kids in it on Sunday morning and she’s in a little choir for kids ages 3-early 4.  Jeff and I have found a Sunday Night small group that we really enjoy.  It is strange to walk into church each week and not know most of the people… but we’re really liking it there.
We even took a picture in front of the living cross on Easter morning – a tradition for families at FCC.

Change is hard… and God knows that.  Jesus went through changes – from Heavenly to Human… from perfect to sin-filled (our sin… not His).  But change brings growth and I believe that this Easter, I grew more as a Christian than I have in years past.  This year, I was able to focus on Christ and the message brought by Rick.  In the past couple of years, I’ve been so “busy” at church that my focus had shifted.

I pray that God will continue molding me through the changes life brings.
I pray that the tradition started this year, reading the Resurrection Story on Resurrection Sunday, will be one that I will not only make last, but that it will be passed on to Ella.

Granted, I am not passing on the exact same traditions that my parents created with us.  After all, I couldn’t remember when or where we got our Bunny Baskets.   

But isn’t that in itself a testimony to my parents keeping the focus where it should have been on Resurrection Sunday?
Where was YOUR focus this past Sunday?  
Where is your focus this coming Sunday?
If you don’t have a place to worship, I invite you to come to Fairmount and worship with us.  
The church is located immediately off I-295 on Creighton Road.  
Here is the physical address:  6502 Creighton Road  Mechanicsville, VA 23111
The sermons are real and the people are wonderful.
I just pray that when Ella is 34, she remembers more about Jesus than about the bunny…
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