BY DR. MARY WARDELL-GHIRARDUZZI | April 13, 2020
Easter Monday
Today’s Readings

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“We are on our way. To that land of brighter days. We are on our way. We are on our journey home.”

We sang this jubilatory song, over and over again, until all the children had marched to the choir pews and had taken their seats.

Earlier that morning, I ran downstairs to the lower level of the church, bursting with energy as we gathered and went through a last run through our parts. We lined up as instructed and went upstairs to the vestibule waiting our turn to participate in Easter Sunday worship service. 

When the processional song started playing, it was our turn. We were on!

“We are on our way. To that land of brighter days. We are on our way. We are on our journey home.”

Dressed in our Easter morning finest and in formation, we marched into the sanctuary, swaying, singing, and clapping in unison to launch the beginning of the children and youth portion of service—The Children’s Easter Pageantry to celebrate the resurrection of Christ. This was the Sunday we all looked forward to as we played a real part in creating a special holiday service.

That Easter I wore white from head to toe—in my high ponytails were white hair ribbons, my white cotton dress had an overlay of white eyelet with a bow-tied sash in the back.  My fold over socks were white, lined with a single roll of white lace. My t-strap shoes were white patent leather that had three tear-drop cut outs on top.

When it was time, each child approached the podium that was taller than nearly all of us. We carefully began to articulate into the scratchy microphone scriptures from Isaiah, Proverbs, and Matthew—that foretold the coming of Christ, the Crucifixion, and Resurrection. Each child was assigned passages based upon their age and ability. These assignments were also known as your Easter morning speech.

I had practiced my Easter speech and spent hours after school and weekends memorizing the scripture reading according to the Book of Matthew, that retold the story of the Resurrection. When it was my turn, I remember my knees locked. My teacher gave the hand gesture to take a deep breath. I probably did not, and began to recite before the congregation—a passage from Matthew 28 when the angel appears to Mary Magdalene and others and tells them to not be afraid.

Like most of the children, I was anxious to be in front of the congregation—yet I was ready.

The Resurrection story of Jesus Christ is the foundation of the Christian faith. The story teaches us and affirms our atonement, redemption, and reconciliation as people of faith.

At that time, I could not have understood what I was really learning. I’m not sure how many children really understood what the story of Christ’s resurrection meant in our future lives. 

We were simply good and obedient children listening to the instruction of the adults in our lives. We made our best efforts to recite these biblical passages with an earnest and open heart—the heart of a child. We gave our best every Easter Sunday through memorizing and memorializing through our actions that we listened to our Sunday school teachers, our church elders, and our families. 

As a reward, and at the conclusion of Easter service, we returned to the church basement to the praises of the adults in lives who had dutifully prepared us. We gave each other high fives for nailing speeches. We received an Easter basket filled with fruits, nuts, cakes, and candies. 

In reflection, there are questions I ponder when I think of Easter: What was all the pageantry really about? Were we being prepared for something more? What lessons were learned through re-telling and memorizing and reciting the story of Christs’ coming and Resurrection? What messages could be embedded deep in our hearts through the songs we sang?

The ministry workers—our Sunday school teachers, pastors, church staff, parents, and elders—created these Easter morning traditions for a higher purpose. I believe these descendants of slaves, African American people who had experienced varying degrees of discrimination, prejudice, and societal exclusion, wanted to imbue in our young minds and inscribe on our developing hearts the deep and abiding love of Christ. They wanted the children to know that God would always be with us. They taught us at a young age, through the ritualized lessons of the pageantry, that God was on our side.

Although I am saddened as we refrain from traditional Easter celebrations with shelter in place orders due to COVID-19, I am reminded of the lessons and love of the Resurrection as meaningful today as they were when I was a young girl. That gives me hope as I continue to sing.

 “We are truly on our way to a brighter day. To that land of brighter days. We are on our way. We’re on our journey home”.

2 replies
  1. Avatar
    Melanie says:

    Beautiful writing that created a vivid image in my mind! Thank you for sharing this impactful memory.

    Reply

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