Much more than Peter Cottontail . . .
When I was a child I looked forward to Easter Sunday with just as much enthusiasm as I did for Christmas morning.
I knew that this was the time of year when I always got a beautiful new church dress, shiny shoes and a pretty hat with a matching bow. Mom made sure my brother and I looked our best for this special church day.
To make it even more exciting I knew that Peter Cottontail was on the trail bringing good little girls and boys baskets full of goodies.
I would go around singing, “Here comes Peter Cottontail, hopping down the bunny trail, hippity, hoppity Easter is on its way!”
My parents and family traditions always made this time of year special. Mom had a gift for making each Easter basket unique in her own way.
One year I had repeatedly hinted that it would be so wonderful to get roses in my basket. When I say that I hinted I mean I probably said something to her on a daily basis in the month leading up to the big day because I knew she had an inside line to the big bunny himself. She would always smile at me with that knowing smile and go about her business.
Easter morning finally arrived and as I carefully and hopefully came creeping into the kitchen there on the table was the most beautiful basket I had ever seen. A small bouquet of tiny pink roses was peeking over the top. They were artificial, but that was even better because it meant I could keep them forever.
The chocolate bunny and jelly beans were great, but those roses meant more to me than I could say.
Growing up in a Christian home I was taught from a very early age the real reason for this special holiday. Easter isn’t about eggs, bunnies or baskets. It is about the shed blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and His resurrection. When I was a small child our church always held an Easter play. Many members would take part in this heart wrenching reenactment.
One year in particular my dad was chosen to play Jesus. Daddy has always been a tall, rugged man with a beard. Every picture I have ever seen depicting Christ shows a compassionate looking man with a beard.
Matter of fact one of my favorite pictures portraying Jesus shows Him sitting surrounded by children with a smaller child on His knee. I always thought He looked like my dad so it made perfect sense to me to see him playing this part.
Although I knew that it was just a show I still got extremely upset when the scene arrived where Jesus is hoisted onto the cross. The church we were attending at that time did a magnificent job of making it as realistic as possible. Sheets had been strung up in front of the stage as curtains and when this part of the play came they pulled them closed and turned out the lights.
Suddenly light came up from behind the sheets and there in shadow form you could see Christ hanging on the cross. The taunts and cruel words from soldiers could be heard amid the moans and heartache.
My dad did an amazing job depicting the pain and suffering and in my young eyes I honestly thought they were hurting him so I began to sob. It wasn’t until the lights came back up and I could see him with my own eyes did I feel better.
That truly impacted my heart even as young as I was. To this day I can vividly see that entire scene before me and it always causes my heart to flutter and a knot to nag at my throat. I was devastated because I thought the pain my daddy was portraying was real. Can you imagine the utter devastation and sadness of the actual occurrence?
There are times of heartache in our lives where it is so easy to question why God would allow such things to happen. But if we would only go back to this enormous show of love you would see that sometimes bad things have to happen in order for a bigger blessing to come into your life. It is not our place to know or understand everything.
This is where our faith, respect and love for the great sacrifice Jesus made come into play. I look at my boys and could not imagine allowing one of them to suffer and die in order to save another, but God loved us so much that He gave His only begotten son…
He suffered so we may have the gift of eternity and this day above all others should cause us to pause and realize the enormity of that sacrifice.
I pray that this Easter children are taught that baskets full of candy, egg hunts and large white bunnies are not the true meaning of this blessed holiday. It is so much more.
I pray that you take the time to attend a Passion play or just make it to a church this Sunday morning. It doesn’t matter which pew you sit in, who you sit by, what your clothes look like, how much money is in your pocket or what name is on the sign outside. It doesn’t matter if you know the Bible from cover to cover or if you have never even opened one. Hearing the word of God is so much greater than any excuse we can come up with.
I hope you all have a very blessed Easter and enjoy your time spent with family and friends.
“Then Jesus said, ‘Father forgive them; for they know not what they do.’” Luke 23:34