A reflective Good Friday ushers in a joyful Easter

By:  LPJ

Good Friday. A time to contemplate the greatest love of all. We pause and yield to the thought of that dismal day so long ago, when one so perfect and innocent bore the sins of humanity, one who loves so much that He suffered and died on the cross in Calvary to redeem all of mankind. This is what Good Friday commemorates. It is a time for reflection and introspection. I write this blog in the evening of Good Friday, in stark awe mingled with humility and gratitude that one so mighty and sovereign should be humbled and crucified because He loves us all … because He loves you and me.

And soon, it will be Easter. Great joy! The message of Jesus’ resurrection is one of hope on the wings of faith – the belief in the victory of light over darkness, of love over despair, and in Jesus’ resurrection, of life over death, and that God’s kingdom is eternal. Happy Easter one and all!

I remember many happy Easters of past years. The memories are like gems. They shine and sparkle every time I take them out of my memory chest. Randomly, I take out a few to share with you.

Like it was just yesterday, I recall the early morning trek my late husband,  our children and I would make to the Stanford Frost Amphitheater for the sunrise service. We did this for several Easters. Getting up at 5 a.m. was never easy, but it was fun and exciting to brave the nippy weather before the sun showed its face from behind the hill. When light folded out and sunshine shimmered through the trees’ foliage, it was always glorious. The services were beautiful – meaningful messages, lively, triumphant music, community singing ringing out over the hill, families celebrating together, attendees seated on blankets spread on the lawn. And of course, fellowshipping with friends and acquaintances before the walk down the hill and the drive home was integral to the lovely Easter morn.

It was very cold that Easter day in Jeannette, Pennsylvania, but everyone in church was dressed so cheerfully and colorfully. Pastels and bright colors seemed to be the rule of the day. Mine was bright pink, a silk dress topped with a pale pink jacket cut in the Jackie Kennedy style, tailored for me by my American host Mom. Oh yes, there was a matching pink hat that I awkwardly wore.  I was a high school exchange student then, and Easter was one of the highlights of my year’s stint in the US. The children were awfully cute – girls in their organdy frocks, and boys in suits with bow ties. While my younger sister frivolously chatted with her new boyfriend, the choir pianist, my host parents busily introduced me to members of the church who apparently attended rarely but always went on Easter and Christmas. Meeting new folks was interesting, especially when they asked a lot of questions about the country I came from. I felt like a true young ambassador of culture and goodwill. But the lunch buffet spread was most enticing.

Some years ago, before my grandson was born, my son and his wife invited us to attend Easter service held at Zellerbach auditorium on campus of Cal Berkeley. It was a very solemn yet energetic event, with music that throbbed joyfully and seemed to vibrate the auditorium walls. The message was even more vibrant, quite appropriate in celebrating the triumphant resurrection. After the service, attendees carried their picnic baskets to the lawn area in front of the imposing university library, claimed their spots at the far end of the slope and feasted on sandwiches and pop. The children noisily gathered for games. It was a big fun-filled party. Easter celebrated on the Berkeley campus by a church community – that was truly special.

My grandson was around three years old when I watched him sprint from bush to bush in his family’s backyard, fully intent on finding the eggs colored by his Mom and his adopted auntie. He was good. He spotted the treasures and worked a very successful hunt. He found most of the eggs. I was so proud of him. That little boy knew that colors that didn’t match the green of grass or leaves must be the treasure. Either that, or the hiders didn’t do a very efficient job (purposely, my guess). Filling his basket with colored eggs made that little darling very exhuberant – and so were we. What a delightful Easter tradition for the children.

Easter morning at Santa Monica beach, a real gem. When my daughter was in college at UCLA, we went to the beach to attend a not-so-early morning service. It wasn’t sunrise. The sun glared bright and warm. The ocean was a calm blue with a few foamy waves gentle on the shore. Slight breeze blew in a whisper. The crowd had a bohemian quality. I guessed that many were artists from nearby communities. A great number were in beach attire, shorts, tank tops and floppies. A few were obviously out-of-towners, with cameras strapped around their necks, my husband, included. The preacher was a young man in jeans and a Hawaiian shirt. The worship music was folksy, robustly accompanied by guitars. All sat on the sand. It was a most refreshing Easter celebration against a magnificent backdrop of turquoise sea, white sand, blue sky and a couple of ships on the horizon.

I remember well the Easter celebration at Calvin Crest near Yosemite, when my family joined a church camp. My son and daughter were 9- and 8-year-olds then, and waking up young children for a sunrise service is never easy. Bu not this time. They woke up excited about the Easter service in the woods. Actually, it was by the lakeside in the midst of tall redwoods on the lake shore. A wooden platform, like a balcony, stood in the middle of towering trees, and it was there where the service was held. There were readings of scriptures by attendees. Hymns were sung as sunshine broke through the trees and light danced on the lake waters as the birds chirped in gleeful repartee. Celebrating Easter in gorgeous scenery was heavenly. I actually didn’t want the service to end. The worship service was simple and inspiring, a raw communion with God in nature.

There is something so special about an Easter morning. It’s like a crisp new dawn, a joyful burst of sunshine, fresh dew on a rose petal, multi-colored balloons in flight, mint in ice cream pie, dancing bunnies in an Easter parade – I could go on and on with poetic allusions, and more. The truth is, it’s all because Jesus is risen – He is risen indeed!

Have a joyful, special Easter!

Linda P. Jacob