I am going to skip to the end and go straight for the last two questions.
You might also share how your Easter today is similar or different to your childhood?
If you are a regular visitor here you are familiar with what I am about to share. Coming from a home broken by divorce I do not have a lot of warm fuzziest about my childhood years. So for me looking back is sometimes not a happy thing for me.
With that being said what I can claim with a joyous shout is that things for me now are triumphantly different. I can look back at my children's past with many warm fuzzes and many happy memories.
How many pastel colored eggs did I fill with little slips of paper with Easter scriptures tucked inside along with a piece of candy? Too many to count!
How many Easter egg hunts out at the campground did I take my children too? Lots and lots!
How many Easter morning did my little ones race down stares before church to scour the house in search of the eggs that the Easter bunny had left over night? Again, lots and lots!!
I am very thankful that life is about choices and for me and my family we choose Jesus.
We always made sure that both our children knew the real reason for Easter. We had fun with the Easer Bunny but they always knew that with out Jesus there would be no reason for the Easter Bunny to even show up. We had neighbor hood Easter egg hunts which were great fun. We would all pool our resources and then we would rotate hosting from year to year, that was a hoot. It was not uncommon to find lingering unfound eggs sometime years after the fact tucked away under a pile of leaves or sticks in my yard.
Does any Easter stand out particularly?
Yes! The Easter season of 2003. It was on Good Friday. Several years ago our youth did a program where they would reenact the crucifixion out at our campground. They would have a brief sermon under the arbor and then we would all take a short walk down to the cross. We had never done this as a family before, and it was such a powerfully moving experience that God prompted me to write it down. It impacted me so very much as well as my child. I am thankful that I was obedient in writing it all down.
So I share with you:
“Are Those Real People?”
April 21, 2003
We arrived as the sun was setting on Good Friday. The last rays of the daylight were filtering thought the branches of the surrounding trees. A small crowd of people mingle about, greeting one another, friendly handshakes and warm hugs embrace the mood. The air is cool and clean from the day’s rain, but I was comfortable with the light jacket I had on but you could feel the chill of evening approaching. I look around and felt completely at peace with the familiar setting. It is one of my favorite places.
Campground. When I get to heaven I will thanks the saints of our church of so long ago for having the foresight to set aside this wonderful place. It is truly Holy Ground, for when I stand upon it I feel so very close to God.
I look around, visually taking in my surroundings. The ferns, foliage and flowers are always a welcome sight. The ancient weather worn cabins with their dull and slightly rusty tin roof’s sit just outside the arbor. They form a protective circle around the arbor.
The equally ancient arbor made of hand hewn timbers and wooden plank pews stands at the very center of this amazing place. The soft and fragrant saw dust that covers the earth beneath its sheltered rafters. The sound your feet make as you walk upon the sawdust. It cushions your footstep and makes a soft whooshing sound. Like an old hymn. Even during the hottest of July days there always seemed to be a breeze blowing for our evening worship services. But it’s not July, it’s early spring and there is a very distinct crisp coolness to the evening. I am flooded over with years of memories of this place. Happy and amazing moments as well and a few heartbreaking and tearful moments as well. I truly do love this place.
This is a special gathering; we have come to prepare ourselves for the awesome gift of Christ resurrection.
Our guest speaker for the evening was a woman named Clarissa. She is a descendant of salves. When her ancestors were freed from their bondage here in America they returned home to their native Liberia. This woman stood before us and preached the word with excitement and passion.
I listened with straining ears to filter through her thick accent and hear her message. It is the message of Christ crucified. The powerful message of why we have gathered under the arbor unfolds to our hungry ears. Her message to us is brief but very mighty in her passionate delivery.
“Christ was crucified and died on the cross for me.”
“My sins have been washed away in His blood.”
“I am forgiven.”
I listen and it floods over me again. The ultimate sacrifice had been paid for me before I was even born. I push the tears from my cheeks and continued to listen.
I would later find out that she and her family had been persecuted and beaten, flogged for preaching the word of God in Liberia. Her son was so severely beaten that he died. He literally gave his life for Christ. This woman was persecuted and forced to leave her own country for her faith. She is further forced into leaving her daughter behind in Liberia. We all realized that we had been in the presence of a modern day apostle preaching the word of God.
Clarissa’s message for the evening was powerful, but the experience was far from over. The evening was to take a turn that will impact me for the rest of my life.
When our modern day apostle had finished we are invited to follow two young people dressed in Hebrew attire. We rise from our pew and follow slowly and quietly. The ground is uneven and rocky in places so I step lightly and deliberately. It is fully night now and the road is light with torches. Off in the distance I see the three crosses. These three cross have been a common place sight for many years at the campground.
From the back door of my cabin I look upon them ever day during campmeeting. Every time you enter the campground you see them. But tonight as we walk down that torch light path I catch a brief glimpse of them and my eyes do not believe what they are seeing.
It is a sight too real for me to take in and I avert my eyes and stare at the ground.
I continue down the path, myself, my husband and my children all holding hands, drawing closer to the cross with each step. With each footfall the cross looms larger in the darkness. Finally I am there. I am standing at the foot of the cross.
This is a real cross with a real person hanging upon it. There are three crosses each with someone hanging, still and motionless upon it. It was fully evening by now and there was a very pronounce chill in the air. I think to myself “How cold they must be?” I am standing there warm and snug in my jacket. They, in turn, are hanging there nearly naked draped only in a small loin cloth exposed to the cold night air.
They, three members of our youth program, hang upon the cross so very still. The two on either side, the criminals, they hang there with their heads down and arms stretched tight with hands dangling at the end. Then you look to the middle. There is Jesus. He hangs there with His crown of thorns pushed into His flesh. You can see the blood stains on His face and loin cloth.
On the ground in front of the crosses kneel three women. Off to the side are two roman guards. If I did not know better I would think that we have been transported back in time two thousand years.
The world around me is silent, but for the noises of the wooded landscape. The trees and rocks that have stood at the campground for over one hundred and seventy five year’s envelope me as I take in the sight before me.
I hear the footfalls of those behind me. Those that I love surround me, my husband and children and close friends. Some among us fall to their knees and other just stand silently and pray. I stand next to my husband and command myself to look at the re-enactment before me. I force myself to look at the reality, the brutality that my Lord underwent for my salvation.
Off in the distance singing begins. I look at the bodies hanging on the cross so still and motionless. I have to tell myself that this is a re-enactment. But the power of the scene before me is overwhelming.
I feel a small tug on my jacket sleeve and I am thankful to look away from the cross. My 8 year old daughter is there and she has a look on her face that I will never forget.
She motions with her hand, pulling me closer to her. I place my finger to my lip's suggesting to her that she speak in a hushed voice. She quietly whispers her question in my ear “Are those real people ?”
How do I answer this question? Only moments before I was myself, a grown adult, questioning the reality of the sight before me.
“Yes, they are real people honey.” I whisper. “But they are only pretending. They are not really dead.” I placed my hands on her small shoulder and drew her close to me. We stood together and looked at the cross.
A moment later there was a second small tug on my sleeve.
“Are you sure those are real people?” she asked again.
I bend down to her and reassure her yet again that “Yes, they are real people. Remember the Easter story we read in your bible about Jesus dying on the cross?”
I get a small nod of her head and I continue on “Well these people are acting out the Easter story! The are really not dead, they are just pretending. We know that Jesus is a real person and He died on the cross a long time ago. We quietly talked about how He chose to do this for her and for me. Can you imagine a person choosing to do that just for you?”
I got a confused nod in response and placed a small kiss on her cheek and we both turn to look up at the cross.
What an experience! I wonder what she will remember about that night in the years to come. I will never forget her simple question to me though.
“Are those real people?”
I must never forget the reality of what took place on that hill at Calvary so long ago.
Yes! Jesus was and is a real person.
Yes! He chose to go through the unspeakable brutal act for my salvation.
I must force myself to look upon the cross daily and remember the reality of His sacrifice. It is so easy to avoid. My own experience of that night taught me that.
As I was walking down the path I too looked away.
I did not want to look at what was before me.
I too did not want to take in the reality of the image I saw.
It was too painful. It was too real. It was too horrible to imagine.
I must however take it in, absorb the truth that Jesus died for me while I was still a sinner. I have been paid for with His blood.
Romans Chapter 5 verse 8 tells us “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Yes! Jesus did this for me.
Yes! Jesus did this for you!
Yes! He was and is real!
Amen, Amen and Amen!
Well that’s it for me for this Flashback Friday. For more Flashback Friday participants head over to Mocha with Linda !
Blessing and Happy Easter!
He Is Risen!