The highlight and high point of our year.
When Jesus suffered and died for our sins, rising again the third day.
The Lamb has been slain, the ransom price paid.
"He is Risen" and echoing back, "He is Risen Indeed!"
Our entire family is eagerly looking forward to this upcoming Easter weekend and our Church Communion. I have been thinking back to the excitement and anticipation I felt as a child:
Palm Sunday: Hosanna in the Highest! The week before Easter; a week of preparation. The church congregation meeting Tuesday morning to clean the meetinghouse inside and out. Preparation at home--reading the blue Bible Story books about our Lord's last week. Cleaning the house. Preparing for company to come; perhaps overnight visitors, perhaps Saturday Afternoon company. Maybe both! Making certain that aprons are washed, pressed, spotless. Checking and rechecking candy supply: if I ration it just right, I'll have enough to last all weekend. Off to bed early Friday night.
Saturday Morning: Worship Services at 10 am. Hearing again the reading of Isaiah 53. "He is despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief...He hath born our griefs, and carried our sorrows; yet we did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and with His stripes we are healed." Smelling the food in the basement kitchen. Slipping out to set the tables. The hymn and prayer before the meal. Helping to serve the noon meal. The hymn and prayer after the meal. Washing dishes; resetting the tables for second table. Finally, hungrily getting to sit at the table. Beef, soup, bread and apple butter. Sweet pickles, beets, peaches and applesauce: it all tastes so good! Giggling and watching the boys compete to eat the most apple butter sandwiches.
Heading home with Mom to help get ready for company between services, or maybe staying with Dad for the short Afternoon Service. Company coming over for a light snack and rest before the Communion Service.
Communion. Sitting with Mom and the women at the tables, or maybe with Dad and the men, switching half-way through with my sister, or perhaps sitting along the wall with the other girls. Self-Examination. I Corinthians 11. Foot-Washing Service; getting the chance to help another mother with her toddler. The simple Lord's Supper meal: Beef, White Bread, Soup and Water. Mom slipping me a sandwich, or perhaps taking a packed lunch to eat on the front porch steps with other girls. Watching the Holy Kiss passed; I Peter 5:14. Hearing the minister read on the suffering and death of our Lord. Watching, silently, as the Bread is broken to the communicants, hearing the familiar words "Beloved, this bread which we break is the Communion of the body of Christ." The supporting minister slipping a piece of the communion bread to the young children sitting with their parents. Joyful singing as the Cup is passed: "It is finished!" and the reminder that "as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord's death till He comes." 1 Corinthians 11:26. Then some final announcements. The minister speaking directly to the children with thankfulness for the quiet observation and encouraging words looking forward to the time we, too, will sit around the table. The final hymn and dismissal. Lining up in the kitchen for a sandwich and milk--milk always tastes so good in the half-pint cartons! Staying to help clean up and set tables for Breakfast. So sleepy... Time to go home and to bed; Morning Worship comes early! Crawling into bed feeling tired and somewhat down, remembering that this is the night Jesus was left in the tomb.
Easter Morning! He is Risen! Quickly dress in new Easter clothes, rubbing the sleep from my eyes. Going to Church, happy and sleepy and hungry. Slipping into the Basement with Mom to deliver pies to the kitchen. Greeting others with "He is Risen!" and the reply, "He is Risen Indeed!" The happy, joyful, solemn Morning Worship service. Breakfast. Helping to wash dishes, then off with girls to play and admire each other's new dresses before Worship Service. Slipping out of service early to help set tables and prepare for Lunch. Going back upstairs with the other children, lining up on the front steps to walk into the sanctuary for ministers to pass out leftover communion bread to the children. Serving tables--two or maybe three table settings. Slipping into the kitchen to watch Grandpa cooking the meat in the giant vats. Hoping that there is some 'good' pie left (there always is!). Mothers in the kitchen, portioning out the leftovers. Final cleanup.
And Easter weekend is over.
But yet it's not over.
We carry in our hearts the joy of knowing that our Lord, the Risen Savior, lives!
And He has through His death conquered over death and sin to wash away sin--MY sin, so that I might live with Him eternally! How can I not love and serve and praise Him? For His has taken away my sin! I serve a risen Savior!
1 Cup Butter, room temperature
2 Tablespoons Sugar
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1-1/2 Cups Half-and-Half
5 to 5-1/4 Cups Flour
Mix together the Butter, Sugar and Salt. Gently stir in the Half-and-Half, alternating with the Flour, adding up to 1/4-cup more Flour, if needed, to achieve a firm, soft, not sticky ball of dough. Gently knead or 'play with' the dough until it is smooth. Divide in half; place each half on an un-greased baking sheet. Roll to 1/4-inch thick. Using a clean ruler, score lines lengthwise on the sheet of dough. Using a fork, prick at one-inch intervals. Bake at 325* for 25 minutes. Allow to cool completely before breaking into sticks and then into two-inch pieces. Makes two sheets of unleavened bread.
Eat quietly, while reflecting on all Our Lord did to atone for our sins: "He paid a debt He did not owe, I owed a debt I could not pay, I needed Someone to wash my sins away. And now I sing a brand-new song: Amazing Grace! Christ Jesus paid the debt that I could never pay!"