I really like Easter, I don’t know why though. Maybe it’s the Cadbury eggs, or maybe it’s the pretty dresses all the girls wear to church. Maybe it’s because it’s on the cusp of spring and it brings the feeling of renewal to my life. Or maybe it’s just because it means that my birthday is just around the corner. Whatever it is, I have a lot of great Easter memories. There is one in particular that stands out in my mind though…
It was 1990 and we had flown down to Georgia to visit my grandparents. Coupled with a surprise trip to Disney World, it was one of the best vacations I can remember. I was “10, goin’ on 11” and we celebrated my birthday at my great grandma’s house the night before.
Easter morning, we awoke to three very large baskets in the kitchen, overflowing with candy, eggs, and stuffed animals. We ate breakfast and dressed for church in our frilly dresses, gloves and hats. When we arrived at the church, it was an experience like none other. Let me just tell you that I grew up in a quiet Presbyterian church in northern Arizona. This was not a worship service like I was used to.
First off, my dad was the only white guy in the whole building. I guess one can expect as much when attending a church in a black neighborhood in the South, but having grown up in Arizona, where there is a broad racial diversity, this was new to me. Then I noticed that all the ladies were accessorized with big fans and big hats and fancy gloves. Every. Last. One. I suddenly felt like Scarlett O’Hara was going to make a grand entrance momentarily. As I looked around and started to get filled with the excitement of the room, suddenly, the room was filled with music.
Oh boy, I was in a real live “Hallelujah church,” as I called it. The choir was going crazy, everyone was singing and dancing, clapping their hands and grooving to the music. The preacher came out with his booming voice:
“Jesus Christ is risen!”
“Amen! Hallelujah!” The crowd exclaimed, whooping and hollering.
Okay that was different. Don’t they know that the correct response is, “He is risen indeed,” in the most somber and depressing tone possible.
The sermon carried on. Every time the teacher paused for a moment, several congregation members would shout out, “Praise God!” or “Hallelujah!” or “Amen Jesus!” My sister finally leaned over and asked my mom why everyone was being so rude and interrupting the preacher while he was talking. Glad she had the guts to speak up, because I was wondering the same.
Church that day was a spectacle. It was a celebration, indeed, the way that Easter should be. Of all the Easter services I’ve ever attended, that one was certainly the most entertaining.