For me (and my family) Easter Sunday has always been synonymous with church services and thankful, grateful worship. Easter church services always seem so cheery to me (as they should). It is after all, a celebration! Some of the best hymns are dusted off and happily sung on Easter. My favorite songs are old standards like “He Arose”, “The Old Rugged Cross” & “He Lives”. I love old hymns anyway, but hearing these sung (and joining in, of course) always gives me a little thrill.
During the late 70's/early 80's (I was in grade school), my family lived on a little farm, and we attended a tiny country church. The church was frequented by several farm families who lived nearby. The building itself was very small – just one large room actually. The majority of that room was used for the main service and also for adult Sunday School. There was an upright piano and a simple pulpit toward the front. There were several rows of wooden pews and then some tables were at the back. The tables were used for children’s Sunday School classes (unless the weather was lovely – and then we’d sometimes go to the picnic tables outside). A tidy little outhouse was in the backyard between the church and a well kept cemetery. I know that it probably does not sound like much, but it was a wonderful place to learn and love and grow.
Even though the church was small, and often informal… everyone dressed up for Easter Sunday. I remember some years getting shiny new Mary Janes and a little white hat and a frilly dress. I was a tomboy generally, but Easter was one time my dear Mom could usually convince me to look “girly”.
My Dad was the song leader during most of our years at that church, and he would lead us in singing those old songs whether or not we had a piano player present for the service. It was there, in that simple one-room country church, that my love of old hymns was born. It’s that love of the old time songs that makes me now insist on going to the early morning “traditional service” at our current (big city) church. I just prefer singing songs found in hymnals. Yes, we tend to be the only folks under 60 that go to that service, but I don’t care. It’s worth it to hear (and sing) the songs I love. They bring to mind memories of a long ago place and time that I hope never to forget.
That old one-room church still stands in its quiet grove of trees on a hilly country road, but no regular services are held there now as far as I know. The families of my childhood have grown up and moved away, or have found new church homes to call their own. I believe there is still the occasional “Homecoming” service and maybe it’s used for weddings or funerals, but otherwise, it’s quiet.
Except in my mind… where I still see that little building pulsing with life, children and parents happily crowding onto hard wood pews, greeting each other warmly, and when the time comes - bellowing out in their sometimes off-key voices….
“He lives, He lives,
Christ Jesus lives today!
He walks with me and talks with me
Along life's narrow way.
He lives, He lives,
Salvation to impart!
You ask me how I know He lives?
He lives within my heart.”