My childhood memories of Easter all seem to merge together into one indistinct memory. We always woke up really early, Berry and I unloaded the goods in our Easter baskets, and I unwillingly put on some frilly Easter dress (until I was old enough to really protest). Then, my family went to our town’s sunrise service (the three main churches held a community-wide service, which means I saw everyone I knew), followed by breakfast in the church fellowship hall. Breakfast was followed by some sort of Easter cantata, followed by lunch at one of my grandmother’s houses, followed by a nap and being lazy the rest of the day.
Very traditional. Very Southern. Very Baptist. None of those are bad things. They just are what they are. This year was remarkably different. It was the first Easter Sunday I haven’t spent with my family. Well, family as in my parents, brother, and grandparents. And it actually ended up being the best Easter Sunday I’ve had.
Easter season officially began with the start of Lent on Ash Wednesday. It was my first time participating in Lent, and the whole experience changed the way I thought about a lot of things. More than ever, I focused more on my thoughts and actions and how they reflect Christ. I have a much better grasp on how difficult it is to fully die to my own self. In some ways, I feel like during those 40 days, I failed often. It’s so easy to become inwardly focused and self-pitying and forget about grace and peace. But mostly, I came out of Lent feeling victorious. To truly deny myself of something that I want very badly for the sake of letting Christ have my heart and mind is a miraculous thing. Last Sunday, I was really looking forward to the whole of Holy Week. Pushing through that last week of Lent, Good Friday at Radius, and the big party on Easter Sunday.
Good Friday dawned gray and stormy. Perfect for the somber mood the day deserves. I was soaked and chilled by the time I got to Radius. I sat upstairs in the prayer room, watching the rain pour down and listening to the booming thunder and the music reverberating through the floorboards from the gathering room below, where Stuart was playing Sigur Ros. Never have I been able to be so in-tune to what the disciples and the women at the cross might have been feeling that day that Christ died. Never have I felt so fully free.
Easter Sunday was the best celebration–all day! Chris came over for lunch, and Harvin and I cooked really awesome chicken and shrimp fajitas. It ended up being a cool celebration for the end of Lent–Chris got to eat meat, and I had Diet Coke (with caffeine!). Then, we spent the afternoon baking for Radius. Harvin made her most excellent sausage balls (and I helped by grating cheese, most of which Chris and I ate before it made it into the bowl) and Chris made mint-chocolate brownies that were delightful. Then we all went to Radius for a Resurrection Day party.
Easter at Radius was beautiful. A huge crowd gathered in the old sanctuary, which is slowly being renovated. Long rows of tables were spread out across the room, and they still didn’t hold everyone. We had a feast of biblical proportions. We talked about Christ’s last moments on earth and celebrated the Resurrection! We sang and worshipped and took communion as a body of believers. We watched five people get baptized–including one guy who was visiting Radius for the first time! We partied well. We’re living well. We’re experiencing grace and peace, and it’s so miraculous and beautiful!