Sunday, April 24, 2011

Childhood Easter in Liberty

Easter Hymns have always been an important aspect of Easter in Liberty.  My childhood favorite was, "Low in the Grave He Lay",  "Christ The Lord is Risen Today" was a close second and is my adult favorite Easter hymn.  These hymns resonnated well in the Liberty EUB Church on Easter Sunday.

The community often got an early start at the Easter Sunrise Service sponsored by the community churches in the township (Bearcreek Church of the Brethren) and villages of Ellerton and Liberty.  This service often was held at the Jefferson High School stadium, with 3 crosses propped on the field in front of the bleachers.  This was a great time to see school friends like Donnie Smith, Mike Maxwell and Dan Maxwell and their families, appreciating the community pastors gifts and enjoying the Easter breakfast together in the school cafeteria.

We went to early service followed by Sunday School where we sang more Easter hymns and, in later years, went to late service, too.  The choir, which I later joined, would sing at both services on Easter Sunday, affording four sessions of worship and singing.  This was uplifting and fulfilling.  It felt right. 

Jesus Lives! was the message for all.  The story of the Resurrection was powerful.  The empty tomb and Jesus appearing after "He arose the victor from the dark domain" were joyous testimony that "He lives forever with His saints to reign".  Children could understand that and Believe! We would sing together in the closing hymn, "Soar we now where Christ has led, Alleluia!  Following our exalted Head, Alleluia!  Thee we greet triumphant now, Alleluia!  Hail the Resurrection Thou, Alleluia!"  Amen.

The specialness of Easter was enhanced by the childhood delights of Easter Eggs and Easter Egg hunts.  The chocolate Easter bunnies added to the tastiness of the day.  Were the hollow ones better than the solid milk chocolate?  The yellow chickies were made of marshmallow like material, pretty but not as tasty as the chocolate bunnies and chocolate eggs.  Candy pleased us, but we also got new clothes for Easter.  Nice tradition, well supported by having both sets of grandparents living next door and across the street.

The whole family got together at one of the grandparents homes after church.  Art and Mary, Bill and Fanny, Esther and Scud, Jerry and Joy, Mike and I gathered for an amazing feast and conversation.  Ollie and Clarbel Webb were often included as members of the family, too.  Grandpa Jonas made the most incredible mashed potatoes and Grandpa Clayton could make delicious swiss steak.  The ham and green beans were great, too.  But the pies were a special delicacy.

The Easter message for children in Liberty was magical for me.  It wasn't the candy, the egg hunt or even being with family, all of which I enjoyed.  Jesus died and rose from the dead for me.  And you, too.  We are forgiven.


  1. Amen, and Amen!
    I loved this, Pat!
    It is almost dawn here in Florida, and I awoke to your Easter memories of growing up in Liberty. I loved reading your message and realize there was a lot about you that I didn’t know when we were at West Point together. There was a lot about God’s love that I didn’t know as well.
    I thank God for His patience and forbearance with me. How I wish I had come to saving faith in Jesus before attending the Academy.

    Amazing Grace found me when I was still God’s enemy and opened my eyes to His Truth. Heavenly Wisdom contained in His Word replaced worldly wisdom. Perhaps because I was so far from God, And Can it Be is one of my very favorite hymns. Growing up a “fish eater” I had never heard the powerful hymns like Amazing Grace, Low in the Grave He Lay, Man of Sorrows or And Can it Be.

    So His amazing grace found me…

    I can so identify with those words from And Can it Be…
    ”Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
    fast bound in sin and nature’s night,
    Thine eye diffused a quickening ray,
    I woke, the dungeon flamed with light…
    my chains fell off, my heart was free…
    I rose went forth and followed Thee!”

    When that happened in my life, God changed me at the very core of my being. The things that had been important to me seemed foolish, and what seemed foolish now became precious.
    When His Spirit brought me to my senses in the pig sty of my life, I turned from loving myself to loving Him. I was forgiven and justified. Like the father of the prodigal son, God was looking down the road for me…waiting for me to come home…
    And He not only forgave me, but put the best robe on me (Jesus Righteousness which covered all of my sins)…and put a ring on my finger (to show I was His son and no longer His enemy)…and through His Word and as I walk with Him, He continues to cleanse and sanctify my life. Truly only His amazing grace could save a wretch like me.

    Praise God for His amazing grace! Praise God for the empty tomb!

  2. So lucky are the children who grow up in the environment you describe, nurtured within the belief system of a congregation. Our research shows that youth with good family and community relationships who attend religious services are much less likely to participate in risky behaviors!!!