When I was young, dying Easter eggs was a big event. Being an engineer in training, I and my siblings experimented with myriad ways to decorate the almost magical yet misshapen orbs that would almost immediately be converted to deviled eggs. Over the years we tie-died, batiked, painted, wax coated, dipped, and dyed (natural and store bought) hundreds of eggs. When I was very young, my parents and grandparents hid those eggs and we hunted them. That is until one year when we failed to find one that had been tucked in-between the cushions of the couch. A couple weeks later it became obvious that something had been missed and that was probably the last year we hid the real eggs and started using plastic eggs instead.
Next to hunting eggs, the other two things that stand out in my memories are new Easter clothes and Easter dinner. For years my grandmother Vera (the wife of our founder) would take us to buy a new set of “church” clothes before Easter. While this was certainly a wonderful gesture on her part, I did not see this as a gift but rather as a particularly cruel form of punishment. I remember vividly the discomfort of trying on stiff and funny smelling clothes, usually consisting of a coat and short pants with a collared shirt. To make things worse, for years she bought matching outfits for my brother and me.
Easter dinner was another thing altogether. Vera was a wonderful cook, and every Easter she cooked a leg of lamb. I remember mint jelly, peas with little white onions and lots of butter, warm soft rolls, and always a delicious dessert. We would eat in the formal dining room on fine china plates with real silver utensils and crystal water goblets. We were required to place our cloth napkin and left hand in our laps, and eat politely and slowly. That meal made me feel grown up and special. Often, after dinner, Garman would wet his finger by dipping it in his water and then slowly rub the tip of his finger along the edge of the goblet. Very soon the goblet would begin to ring a clear and piercing note. This vexed Vera, but she allowed us to follow suit, and we marveled at both the magic we were causing and the fact that Vera was allowing it.
It wasn’t until years later that I realized why we went to all that fuss at Easter. Easter is special. Special things deserved to be treated differently. The way we dress, the things we eat and how we eat them, the things we do, and the places we go all serve to create memories and set a day or event apart from the normal routine.
What makes Easter special? For people who are followers of Jesus, Easter recognizes the most significant event in history. At Christmas we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Because none of us are capable of living a blameless and perfect life, we each find ourselves in need of a savior, someone who could live a perfect life and then take on the penalty of our failure. Jesus, the son of God, was able to live a perfect life, and at Easter we celebrate that after dying in our place and erasing the debt we owed, he rose from the dead and now his spirit lives within and through us. This is fantastic news and an amazing gift. It deserves to be treated differently.
So, on Easter we hunt eggs because eggs are a symbol of new life (though a somewhat ironic symbol since we boiled them first). We have lilies in our homes and churches because they are one of the first flowers we see in spring and they rise from a seemingly dead bulb. We get dressed up in colorful clothes because we are celebrating life, not death. And at my grandmother’s we ate lamb because that’s what the Israelites ate the night before they were delivered from bondage in Egypt, much like we have been delivered from bondage through Christ’s death and resurrection.
I still like to color Easter eggs, and we still only hunt the plastic ones. I have gratefully outgrown the matching clothes and short pants, but I still wear the best I have when I go to church on Easter. Vera went to be with her savior many years ago, but I still have a special affinity for lamb because of her and what it meant. Ultimately though, Easter is special because it is the memorial of the reason I have life and can have it abundantly.
If you don’t know Jesus and would like to talk about him with someone, there are lots of us at Kimray who would be happy to listen and share. Just ask. If you ask me, I might end up telling you other stories about my childhood and family, because they are the ones who taught me so much about love and grace. I would love to be part of you knowing about that, too.
It turns out we were searching for more than eggs.