I don’t usually focus on Biblical themes in my writing, but it’s Easter. I figure, why not? These days, the number of folks in church on any given Sunday seem to be in a steady decline, but in the deep south most of us still know where we ought to be come Easter Sunday.

My dad made a hundred hours of home movies on Easter Sunday mornings for over 10 years in the 60s and 70s. Marian had the old 8mm Kodak reels converted to a DVD for us years back, and I’ve watched that thing so many times.

Dad would get to church early and stand out front waiting to capture every arrival on film. Bulky old Buicks and Chevys and Fords would roll into the gravel parking lot around Berea. Men in suits and ties. Ladies in fine dresses and flowered hats. Little girls in poofy dresses, white gloves, and patten-leather black shoes. Little boys in matching shorts and jackets with bow ties.

The old home movies made things look jerky at times. No sound. Sometimes it looked like people just glided across the lawn to the steps of the church. At other times it looked like they were doing the robot thing kids do. The waves were spastic. Always, some lady would cover her face with her gloved hands to hide from the camera.

You could almost read their lips, “Stop it, John.” They fussed at my dad. He just kept it rolling.

Included in some of that footage are some of the Easter egg hunts we had at the church. Must have been at least 30 or 40 kids running all directions through the cemetery with wicker baskets decorated in green and pink ribbons. And these were real eggs. Boiled hard and painted.

I think about that now and wonder if anyone ever thought it was strange to hide eggs in the cemetery. We were always told not to play in the cemetery. It would be disrespectful. But there we were. Parents standing around and laughing. A few moms helping point out eggs to the little ones who couldn’t find them on their own. Some dad snuffing out a cigarette in the dirt.

I’m not here to argue whether or not good church folk should be promoting the Easter Bunny. For land’s sake. We know the difference between the real story and some rabbit that leaves candy and eggs for kids. For crying out loud, real rabbits don’t lay eggs anyway. Farm kids know that.

The whole thing is just a harmless tradition that gives us a chance to have a little fun with the kids. It also gives us dads a chance to find the unfound eggs while mowing the lawn in May.

Even my oldest granddaughter knows the difference. According to my sources, all on her own, she drew a picture of the Easter Bunny the other day and put a big fat “X” over the top of it. She captioned her picture: “Easter is not about bunnies. Jesus rose from the dead.”

Does that mean she’s not gonna set out an Easter basket on Saturday night. I hope not. I think we’re all reasonable enough to have fun and to celebrate the true meaning of Easter all at the same time. I don’t care what kind of sinister folk lore somebody comes up with in protest, the bunny can visit my house anytime.

But . . . she’s right. It’s not about bunnies.

I was reading the Palm Sunday stories from the Gospels and found this one verse that intrigued me. You know how it is. No matter how many times you read something; no matter how well you think you know the story; every now and then you run across something you’ve never noticed before.

After the ride into town on the donkey and after all the palm branches and hosannas, there’s one line in Mark that the others don’t mention. Jesus went on into town and walked into the Temple and looked at everything, then he left.

There’s a lot of supposition here on my part, but this is the way I see it. Sunday would not have been a busy day at the Temple, especially late in the evening. He might have been there by himself. I imagine it quiet and still. A cavernous space filled with a lot of memories for him.

Ten years ago, after our parents had passed, Marian and I had agreed to meet at the old homeplace to go through things and make decisions on what to do with all their stuff. Most of you know what I’m talking about.

I got there first and spent 30 minutes or so just walking from room to room. It was quiet. There was even an eerie stillness about it. I looked around at everything. In my mind, I could see every Christmas. I could see Mom and Dad sitting in their favorite chairs in the den. I could hear the sound of the pressure cooker on the stove. I could see Bonanza on the TV. I could hear the sound of the back door closing.

What I could see most was that soon nothing was ever going to be the same again. Life was about to change. It had already changed. Everything I saw reminded me how much change is inescapable.

As Jesus stood in the Temple and looked at everything around him, I think he saw the very place where he once stood when he was 12 years old. He saw Solomon’s Colonnade and thought about all the times he had taught beneath those towering columns. He saw the widow dropping her one small coin into the jar.

Deeper within, he saw the minora and the altar of incense. No doubt he saw the huge thick curtain that hung from the ceiling, knowing that in a few days it would be torn in two. On his way out through the courtyard he could have placed his hand on the blood-stained altar knowing that his own blood would soon be required.

So, I see him standing there in the silence of his own thoughts. Everything around him spoke to him from his past and of the changes that were soon to come. The words he had spoken still echoed in this place. The conflict with his adversaries here was about to come to a head.

“If I go through with this,” he thought, “nothing will ever be the same.”

Which is kind of the point of Easter. If you understand Easter at all, it changes everything. Nothing has been the same since.

So, make yourself some home movies this weekend. Does anybody still do that? Fill up a few Easter baskets for the kids and grandkids. Just don’t hide the eggs in the cemetery. And be sure to get your behind in church on Sunday. I’m looking at you.

And whatever life has been, remember there’s still a life that can be.

That’s the power of Easter.

Made possible a long time ago by a man who decided to go through with it just for you.

2 thoughts on “Easter

  1. Thank you Jesus! I as well have those old 8mm movies. They were put on VHS. I need to update for sure! Thank God I had parents who took me to Church and made these movies!


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