Happy Resurrection Day!!
My dear friend, Christoula, taught me the official Greek Easter greeting many years ago. "He is Risen!" she said. "And the one greeted responds, 'He is Risen Indeed!' "
I fell in love with the exuberance of it and pleaded with Frank to make it part of our own Easter tradition. He graciously agreed. And we awakened our girls every Easter morning after with the joyful declaration. Sometimes their little voices were groggy but the message echoed just the same year after year.
That's why Meagan was giving Nathan an impromptu tutorial on the way over for our sunrise service this morning.
"Oh, Nathan. We have one more family tradition that you need to know about."
Nathan is also gracious. But his sigh reminded her that our family seems to have a LOT of traditions!
"Sooo when you first walk in the door, someone will probably say, 'Good morning, guys. He is Risen!' And then you have to respond, 'He is Risen Indeed!' Got it?"
How could he possibly resist those beautiful green eyes on Easter? "Okay, He is Risen Indeed?"
"Yes, perfect! Let's practice - 'He is Risen.' "
"He is Risen Indeed!" Nathan is gracious and a fast learner.
She said they had one more dry run-through on the driveway before coming inside. My sons-in-law are truly the best!
Frank met them at the door. "Good morning, guys. He is Risen!"
Meagan and Nathan looked at each other, burst out laughing and answered together, "He is Risen Indeed!"
Now when I say "this morning," I should probably clarify. Frank woke me at 5:00 and Kristin came stumbling into the kitchen around 5:30. Yes, that would be A.M. We've marked Easter with our own family sunrise service for over twenty-five years now.
When the girls were little, Frank and I served as associate pastors in Asheville, NC. Because we directed rather large Easter productions each year, it left little time for our own "bunnies." And we all know the only "sure fire" method of passing on our faith is - intentionally.
So on Joy's first Easter, we began. At only eight months old, I don't think the blanketed baby absorbed much. But Kristin (3 years old) snuggled into Daddy's arms as we sat together on the front porch and croaked out the resurrection hymns. We stumbled over the words and shivered in the cold. But that sunrise was spectacular!
And a tradition was born that our girls have willingly marked with us every Easter since.
The locations have varied widely. One year while we were evangelists, our service was conducted in a mall parking lot because that's where we found a beautiful Bradford pear tree - and privacy.
Our years in Ocean Isle afforded us a golf course, a trampoline, a deserted stretch of beach. We've celebrated in parks, on porches and even porticoes when necessary.
Some years we haven't had the privilege of being all together in the same place. Kristin has traveled the most. One year she sang from under the kitchen table of friends she was visiting so as not to waken them. And even called on her Easter evening the year she was in India.
One of my favorite memories was the year that Easter coincided with the time change. Frank and I hustled everyone out of bed, grabbed blankets and snacks, then drove to a favorite spot on the beach in the predawn darkness.
We parked our Ford van, then huddled together in the back with the hatch wide open so everyone could see the sun as it rose. We sang all our songs - twice. Ate a few snacks. Diverted an argument over squishing and cover-snatching. We talked about what Easter meant. But the sun did not come up!
Finally it dawned on us (cheesy pun totally intended) that we had miscalculated the time change and had dragged our little girls out of bed TWO HOURS EARLY!!
Dad, Kristin and Meagan closed the door and took a nap. But Joy was too full of energy to sleep. So she and I walked the deserted beach and I listened to her little ten year old voice tell me all that was going on in that precious blond head.
The mistake ended up being a marvelous memory!
Perfection has never been the goal. Just joining the rest of Christendom in finding some way to mark the greatest day in all of human history!
Our croaky choir of five has added two more male voices. And even Spencer (snuggled into a blanket in his daddy's arms) watched the proceedings with wide blue eyes this morning.
"We will be faithful to tell the next generation of your goodness!"
Ah, He Is Risen! May it echo in your heart too.
HE IS RISEN INDEED!!