Karen Gibson: The anticipation of Easter
My fondest memories of Easter are connected to yellow daffodils. I recall attending church one Easter Sunday as a child. I was perhaps 5 or 6 years old. When we arrived home from worship and piled out of the car, my mother noticed them first — the green plants that had burst through the ground and were camouflaged by the tall grass that also had started to grow, and had not been mowed since last winter.
Along with the green stems in the grass that had not been there very long were some yellow flowers. I may have learned their name for the first time that sunny spring Easter Sunday. Daffodils. It is just as easy for me to connect the image of yellow daffodils with Easter as it is to consider white lilies.
I have the daffodils in the kitchen now that the Hospice girls were selling a week ago. I tell everyone who will listen that I grew up in “Daffodil County.” I really lived in Carroll County, but I guess there was a county tourism board. The tourism board came up with the idea of promoting Carroll County as the Daffodil County, and they had signs made that said “Carroll County, the Daffodil County.” The board also planted daffodils around every entrance sign as you came into Carroll County. Nowadays, there are hundreds of daffodils growing around the signs.
A more important memory I have of Easter was going to the Easter Sunrise service, perhaps starting when I was 7 or 8 years old. The sunrise service must have been at 6:30 a.m., because the sanctuary of our one-room church still was rather dark. This left you with the image of what it must have been like when Mary Magdalene in the Gospel of John went to the tomb “while it was still dark” (20: 1b, NRSV).
We sat there in the dark silently waiting and wondering. One almost could imagine a big rock in the front of the sanctuary and it had been rolled away from the entrance to a cave. As the music started it was a sign that Easter was here, especially when a soloist started to sing or we all were invited to sing “Up From the Grave He Arose, with a mighty triumph o’er his foes” as the hymn continues, “He arose, He arose, Hallelujah Christ arose!”
As we sang the three verses, the voices all blending together, we hoped everyone in the little village, called Leavittsville, would hear the music and know “He’s Alive!” Perhaps there was an organ solo, or another vocal solo, but the witness who always amazed us all was Mrs. Marshall, the elderly woman who had memorized the entire resurrection story from the Gospel of John. Of course, it was the King James version, so it would have been harder to say.
As I reflect back, I can see how I was living the Easter story through each person who performed as well as the congregation. But Mrs. Marshall was part of the Resurrection story that goes on in my heart and mind. Mrs. Marshall impacted the lives of many children, as we all passed through her Sunday School class from the ages of 8 to 10. She lived out her resurrection life by sharing the good news of Jesus Christ and modeling for us what a Christian life should look like, as she patiently loved us.
My prayer for everyone is that this weekend you will choose a church in which to worship. I hope you see daffodils, I hope you will sing, and I hope you will hear the word proclaimed so that you too can celebrate Easter, the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.