I have fond memories of Easter Sunday from my childhood.
Easter Sunday church service was a very special time in the lives of the families of United Lutheran Church.
The sanctuary was decorated all over with beautiful white Easter lilies, and all of the people wore their brand new Easter dresses and suits proudly as they strolled into the worship service.
And the Easter bonnets! Oh, those brightly colored Easter bonnets! What a display.
Easter at United Lutheran Church was a time for high fashion back in those days of the 50s.
Sitting in the balcony looking down on that crowd was amazing and quite entertaining. You could get a good bird's eye view of all the Easter bonnets, and you could watch everyone checking each other out.
Fashion on display in the sanctuary!
My mother had quite a big collection of hats that she wore to church throughout the year, but the bonnets for Easter were always something special. They had flowers, sometimes birds, and they were always full of color. Bright and bold!
Those hats were often as bright and bold as the Easter baskets we always had waiting for us when we would get home from church.
The baskets were wicker with brightly colored ribbons woven throughout, filled with that bright green grass and brightly colored eggs. And candy! All that candy!
Sometimes there were other gifts that were given at Easter. Of course we got our new outfits for church, but sometimes there were presents.
One Easter my parents gave me another kind of Easter basket; it was a big wire basket to hang on the handlebars of my Schwinn bike. It was thrilling to get that basket, and I had to have my dad put it on my bike right away. And then I rode up and down Sunset Drive in style, dressed in my new Easter clothes, riding my bike with the banana seat and the butterfly handlebars, and that brand new basket.
Another memory of Easter from my childhood was of a wonderful old hymn that was sung by the United Lutheran Chancel Choir. The men and women, dressed in their flowing white robes, would sing with blended voices, "Up from the grave He arose; with a mighty triumph o'er his foes; He arose a victor from the dark domain, and He lives forever, with His saints to reign. He arose! He arose! Hallelujah! Christ arose!"
The pipe organ would reverberate throughout that sanctuary as the organist accompanied the choir as they sang that grand old Easter anthem.
I still love that hymn today.
It was written by Robert Lowry in 1874 as he thought about the true meaning of Easter. He went to his pump organ and the words and music began to flow.
"Low in the grave he lay, Jesus my Savior, waiting the coming day, Jesus my Lord....Vainly they watch his bed, Jesus my Savior, vainly they seal the dead, Jesus my Lord.... Death cannot keep its prey, Jesus my Savior; He tore the bars away, Jesus my Lord! Up from the grave He arose; with a mighty triumph o'er His foes; He arose a victor from the dark domain, and He lives forever, with His saints to reign. He arose! He arose! Hallelujah! Christ arose!"
I pray that your Easter celebration will be a memorable one as you enjoy family and friends and church activities.
And remember, Easter is so much more than brightly colored hats, eggs and baskets.
Easter is about our Risen Lord, our Victorious Savior, who conquered sin, death and the grave for all of us. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and no one comes to the Father but by Him!
Up from the grave He arose!
-- Doug Dezotell is the pastor of Mt. Lebanon UMC and Cannon UMC. He is a former staff writer for the Times-Gazette, and he is a husband, a father, a grandfather, and a friend to many. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.