As a child, Easter meant shiny new shoes, a fancy dress some candy and also Sunrise Church service. The small town of 900 I grew up in had…wait for it…11 churches. Needless to day, there were many differing opinions on religion. Every year, one of the churches would volunteer or be chosen (not sure about the politics) to host the Sunrise Easter service and a minister would be chosen to speak, who would usually not be the home minister of the hosting church. The turnout was always high. Awwww…what a great way to share faith and fellowship on Easter, right?
One year when I was maybe 10, there was much talk surrounding my home church’s hosting of the event. We had decided to invite the minister from the African American Baptist church to speak. Yes, you heard that right. My town had separate churches, I dare say never had the two mixed.
Easter Sunday came, and my dear, dear mother woke me In the cold dark and I crankily got ready. When we arrived at the church, the small streets were strangely bare. The chapel was sparsely seated, and stayed that way throughout the service.
As I took in the minister’s message and sang along with the lovely and traditional songs, I couldn’t understand how a person could choose to not participate in such a wonderful service solely based on the color of the minister’s skin. This was the obvious reason, based on the past services I had attended.
The minister set for his church to host the service the following Easter. I cannot recall who spoke, but I think it was the church’s own minister. My mom an I were two of the very few outsiders that day, and we were welcomed with warmth and love. The service was exciting and authentic and like nothing I had seen before.
I prayed for the members of my home church to open their hearts to love. I couldn’t be angry with them because they were only living what that had learned. Thank you, mom, for showing me a lesson worth learning.
However you choose or don’t choose to celebrate this day, do it with love in your heart.
©Megan M. Leavitt 2013