Saturday, March 22, 2008

New Outfits and Easter Morning

I am 39 years old and up until seven years ago, my grandmother bought me a new outfit every Easter. As a child, I can remember my mom taking me and my sister to McAlister Square—South Carolina’s first mall in my hometown of Greenville—for lunch at Morrison’s Cafeteria and then to several stores to pick out a new outfit and shoes to be worn on the special. This terrific outing would usually take place one to two weeks before Easter Sunday.

On Easter Sunday, we would all gather at my grandmother’s house after church for a tremendous lunch and an afternoon of egg hunting. There was always ham—that is freedom in Christ from the Law my brothers and sisters!—fried chicken, fruit salad and peanut butter cake. When the meal was completed, my Uncle Troy would pick out the ugliest egg of the ones we had dyed and declare it the money egg. The one lucky enough to find it would become $5.00 richer! Troy and my Dad would hide the eggs and then the search would be on.

Of course, there was always the famous Easter picture of us grandkids in our new Easter outfits. My sister Kimberly, my cousins Brandon and Lisa and I would attempt to put on our best smiles. My father, being one of the slowest humans on the planet, would take forever in getting the picture taken. One of us would always lose patience and somebody always got a spanking for not standing still and smiling. My favorite picture is the one in which I was wearing a powder blue leisure suit. In the shot, I am wiping my face with my forearm. It was a particularly hot day and I remember sweat running down my cheek. My father snapped the picture at the very moment of the wipe. The moment lives in our family posterity and afterward, I received a firm swat to my posterior end!

When Emma turned two and Kathy was pregnant with Elijah, my grand mother had a stroke which rendered her legs useless and her speech severely impaired. There were no more shopping trips for new Easter clothes. In a small way, every Easter since reminds me of my grandmother’s frail condition and the joy of a new outfit lost.

Such memory may seem silly. In fact, I am quite sure that most people that grew up in the church have some interesting memories associated with the most important event in history. As an adult, I am not sure that all the activities and goings on which surround most “Easter” celebrations are helpful in leading believers to rightly reflect on its significance. Can a child rightly be led to focus on Jesus and his victory over sin in light of solid chocolate bunnies and money eggs? As a father of four, that is a question with which I struggle.

However, of this I am sure. Events in my life have taken some turns that, by God’s grace, make me more aware of the grace of Christ. Memories of Easter as a child are clouded as an adult when I consider not only that my grandmother has been debilitated for eight years, but my sister has been gone for nearly seven. My parents have been divorced for many years. The past sweetness if often tinged with the bitter of today. Yes, life is often quite frail.

Easter reminds us that the world and its inhabitants are profoundly debilitated by sin. It affects all aspects of life. Yet on the day we remember Resurrection Morning, we are assured that the ultimate sting of death and sin were conquered and that we live with the hope that Jesus walks with us in our frailty. The Spirit works to sanctify and make us more like Jesus in order that He might be more glorified. That ultimate sacrifice enables us to know the Father now and live in the hope that one day all frailty and remnants of sin will be cast away when the Savior comes again riding on a white horse! On that day—we would all do well to look up that phrase and see how it is used in Scripture—our imperfect Easter celebrations will be exchanged for being face to face with the one who made it all possible. And praise the Lord, powder blue leisure suits will be banished forever.

This Easter, get out your Bible and start reading at John 12 and keep going until the end of the Gospel. It will do your soul well. Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!

Please pray for Lynette Cox, she was admitted back into the hospital in Gainesville. They believe she may have had another small stroke.

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