Revelations: A new understanding of Easter

BY JENNIFER PREYSS

Let me tell you about one of my favorite holidays of the year: Easter Sunday. When I think back upon childhood Easter moments, they're always sweet, soft, and bright; blanketed with flowers, good food and the good ol' southern tradition of Easter dress and hat shopping. About one week before Easter, Mom would take my sister and me shopping for new, frilly dresses to wear to church. We didn't go to church often growing up, but we never missed Easter services. And for a new dress and matching hat, that was fine by me.

After church, my mom and dad, brother, sister and I, would mosey back to the house for an Easter egg hunt with hard boiled eggs we cooked and dyed the day before. As I grew older, I did less of the searching and more of the hiding for my sister and younger cousins. And at night, we'd all gather around the dining room table - beautifully set with Mom's favorite china - and eat the most delicious meal, complete with collard greens and black-eyed peas for wealth and good luck. And at some point during dinner, we'd talk about Jesus' resurrection. This was usually the point in the conversation where I'd roll my eyes at my father and attempt in bad taste to change the conversation.

You see, growing up, I never appreciated the significance of Easter because every other day of the year, my family lived apart from Jesus. We were nominally Christian, in that we identified as such, but our church attendance was sparse and the teachings of scripture somehow eluded me until my early 20s.

Growing up, I didn't live as a Christian; it was more of cultural identity. Even though I looked forward to Easter every year, it wasn't until I truly became a follower of Christ that the holiday became solemn, noble and eminent.

So, tomorrow on Easter Sunday (away from my family and my mother's famous dinner), I'll be enjoying my favorite holiday with joy in my heart. I'll be remembering the Resurrection, reflecting on how far I've come in my spiritual walk and acknowledging how far I've yet to go. I'll be remembering that walking rightly with God is an ongoing transformation process; one that will likely take a lifetime to achieve.

I'll also be remembering the person I was before I knew Him, before he began transforming my heart and mind. That girl is long gone, and I hope 10 years from now, when I look back on who I am today, I'll be able to say the same thing about 29-year-old Jennifer. But most of all, I'll be thanking Him for wanting and needing to die for me. Because for someone as complicated and imperfect as I am, I'm sure He knew there could be no other way. His love for me, His death for me, His Resurrection for me; I can't help but marvel.

After all these years, I finally understand the solemnity of having a relationship with a Christ who desires to carry the weight of my failures through His ultimate sacrifice.

And in this realization, I can't help but thank Him for His endless provision, in both the temporal and eternal.

And don't tell my mother, but I'll be attempting (hopefully not in vain) to re-create her famous spread of honey-baked ham, mashed potatoes, vegetable casseroles, homemade bread, hashbrown casserole, collards, black-eyed peas, cornbread and homemade Granny Smith apple pie for my new Texas family.

I may even go buy myself a frilly new dress. Happy Easter to all.

Jennifer Preyss is a reporter for the Victoria Advocate. You can reach her at 361-580-6535 or jpreyss@vicad.com.