By Shawn McMullen
The Easters of My Childhood
More than once during my childhood I climbed into our family car (still wearing my pajamas) on a cold, damp Easter morning to watch a reenactment of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection at a local park. This was one sunrise service that actually took place as the sun rose!
Later, having traded my pajamas for church clothes, I joined my family in worship at our home church. The auditorium smelled like lilies. I remember singing the traditional Easter hymns with enthusiasm: Christ the Lord Is Risen Today, He Lives, and Christ Arose! Even as a child, hymns like these told me I was on the winning side.
An Easter Baptism
At 11 years of age, our daughter Kyla walked down the aisle of our home church (the church of my childhood) on Easter Sunday to give her life to Jesus Christ. I had the privilege of receiving her confession of faith and baptizing her into Christ the same hour. I remember saying to the congregation just before
Kyla’s baptism, “This is the moment I have prayed for since before Kyla was born. Today we are not only father and daughter, we become brother and sister in Christ.”
I’ve had the honor of baptizing all three of our daughters into Christ, and having been given this opportunity on Resurrection Sunday made this a special baptism indeed.
Easter in South America
Several years ago I traveled to Caracas, Venezuela with our daughter Kelsey to teach and preach. On Easter Sunday I was invited to speak at a large and growing urban congregation. I stood in the service with my Latin brothers and sisters, singing songs of victory and joy while tears welled up in my eyes. We didn’t speak the same language, but we certainly shared the same hope.
The First Easter
Of all Easter Sundays, this is the most memorable. On Friday afternoon, Jesus Christ lay limp and lifeless, hanging by nails to an old rugged cross. His loyal followers removed his body, wrapped it in linen, and laid it in rock tomb, sealing the entrance with a large stone.
The following day, the Sabbath, must have been a quiet day for the disciples—quiet with wondering, quiet with remorse, quiet with grief. It must have seemed as if every great hope they held for this Messiah had been dashed against the unyielding rocks of Roman imperialism and Jewish extremism.
Then Sunday came—the first day of the week. A group of women hurried to Jesus’ tomb at daybreak to anoint his body. But when they arrived, they discovered the stone had been rolled away, Jesus’ body was nowhere to be found, and the tomb was now occupied by a young man dressed in white. “You are looking for Jesus . . . who was crucified,” the angel said. “He has risen! . . .
go tell his disciples and Peter” (Mark 16:6, 7).
The women left the scene “trembling and bewildered” that day. I doubt they ever forgot it.
Neither should we.