Easter Bunnies, Baskets and Stories

“Oh my goodness”, I thought.  “It’s Easter!  I can’t wait to see what the Easter Bunny brought me!”  I bounced out of bed and ran down the hall, my golden hair floating behind me.  As I peek into the living room, I see the very thing I had anticipated…a bright pink Easter basket.  The chocolate bunny inside the basket looks gigantic.

In an instant I bounded back down the hall and woke up by big brother.  Johnny, is about four inches taller than me.  He has bright blonde hair and a small cleft in his chin.  He opens his bright blue eyes and jumps out of bed.  Together we run down the hallway and check out our Easter baskets.

Plastic eggs sit atop a bed of green, plastic grass and hidden in the grass are jelly beans.  Inside each plastic egg is a smaller egg covered with a shiny metallic rainbow colored wrapper.  This wrapper gives me a hint of what is inside…chocolate.  I reach into the basket for the chocolate bunny.  This is the one I’ve dreamed about.  It has long brown ears and blue eyes made from hard, sugar candy.  Around his neck sits a little blue bow.

My mommy walks into the room with a look of surprise on her face.  “What’s all this?” she says.  “It looks like the Easter Bunny came by.  You must have been very good this year.”  We nodded our heads in agreement while smiling our most angelic smiles.  “Did you find any eggs?” she asked.  “No,” we say.  “Hmm…I think I saw an Easter egg over there.”  “Really? I say.”  “Maybe you should look around for a bit,” my mommy says as she looks around the room.

This is enough to cause my brother and I to grab our baskets and start looking around the house.  We’ve already pulled out the boxes of chocolate bunnies and peeps so there’s plenty of room in our baskets for more.  I walk slowly around the room looking around the furniture and in the doorways.  I find a bright pink egg in a planter near the window.  Next, I find a blue egg next to a lamp on the side table.

The more eggs we find the faster Johnny and I look for more.  There are eggs hidden in lamp shades and between cushions in the couch.  We pop in and out of each room of the house looking here and there finding the eggs we spent hours coloring the day before.  When we’re all done, we count the eggs to make sure we’ve found them all.  “Mommy!” I shout.  “Will you hide the eggs for us so we can find them again?” I ask.  “Of course I will,” she says “right after you eat breakfast.”

We may have had a big family dinner back then.  If so, I don’t remember.  All I remember is Easter baskets full of candy and hunting for Easter eggs.  This was Easter Sunday at home in Lafayette, where I grew up.  Fast forward several years.  I moved in with my dad and step-mom after a family tragedy.  Up to this point I had only spent a few weeks in the summer with my dad’s family.

This is my first Easter Sunday at my dad’s house.  Despite being a teen, I still receive a basket full of candy and a lovely chocolate Easter Bunny.  There aren’t any eggs hidden around the house but I am a little too old for that anyway.  Just as I am about to dig into my basket of goodies, my dad walks over and tells me to get dressed for church.  “What do you mean get dressed for church?  It’s Easter!” I said.

“Exactly,” my dad said, it’s Easter.  Go get dressed for church.  You can take one piece of candy with you but we need to get going soon.”  I am so confused.  “Who goes to church on Easter?  We’re supposed to eat chocolate candy and hunt for eggs,” I thought.  I moped all the way back to my room.  I put on my pink dress, panty hose and white sandals.  I brush my hair and cover it with a spray from the pink can of Aqua Net hairspray.  Then, I wrap a thick white belt around my waist.  I walk out of my room and down the hallway.  My brothers are already at the table so I sit down in front of my scrambled eggs.  I cover them with catsup and eat them quickly.

All seven of us gather into the family van and head toward church.  Inside the van, my dad sits in the driver’s seat.  He is dressed in black dress pants, a blue collard long sleeve shirt and a navy-blue tie.  In the passenger seat sits my step-mom dressed in her Sunday best.  They spend the entire trip singing Easter songs.  They both sing in the choir and are practicing for the Easter Service.  Behind them, sit my little brothers then myself and my older brother, Johnny.

We arrive at church and everyone piles out of the car.  My parents take my brothers to their classes and I walk to my Sunday School class.  During Sunday School, we talk about Jesus and the resurrection.  He is a man that came to save the world from sin.  He is the son of God.  I’ve heard of Jesus but, I don’t know any of the bible stories.  At the time, the stories were lost on me.

What I grew to understand later is that God sent his Son, Jesus to die for our sins.  We as humans are sinners by nature.  And just weren’t getting it.  We didn’t accept God and His grace at face value.  Instead we put too many rules around forgiveness.  We were given the ten commandments, yes, but we also added many more laws making it near impossible for a person to believe we can be forgiven.

‘Jesus came into the world not to condemn the world but that the world through him might be saved.’  Jesus is our lifeline.  He lived what we would consider a normal life until He was called to service by the Holy Father.  Then, He spent the balance of His life preaching love and forgiveness to the world.  Jesus healed the sick and loved the unlovable.  We allowed Him to be crucified.  Jesus, this man who preached love and forgiveness died.  He was praised by many as the Messiah and shortly after crucified as a criminal on a tree.

Unlike just any man, Jesus gave up his spirit on the cross.  Then on the third day He rose again.  He is no longer pierced, in paint or thirsty.  He walked with his disciples who saw that his hands were missing holes where the nails had been and touched a perfect side where He had been pierced.  They saw with their own eyes the truth of the resurrection.

I get it now.  Easter is no longer about chocolate bunnies and hunting for eggs, although that part is fun too.  It’s a celebration of the holiest of days.  The day my Jesus rose again and conquered death.  I have sinned and sometimes feel unworthy of His love and forgiveness but Christ forgave me anyway.  God loved me so much that He sent His one and only Son to die on the cross as a living sacrifice.  His death represents the death of our sin and His resurrection shows that He conquered death and is more powerful than the sin that binds us.

At the age of 15 I realized what Christ had done for me and how huge it is.  I accepted Christ into my life and do my best to live for Him daily.

Life is hard.  I’ve had a hard time forgiving myself for some of the things I’ve done in my live, but I know the power of His forgiveness.  God has forgiven me of my sins and all I had to do was to receive his forgiveness.  He changed me.  I am a child of God and know that His grace covers me.  I may not be perfect but by His grace, I am forgiven.

We all have the opportunity to accept the grace and forgiveness that He offers.  But, it requires action.  We must accept it.  As you receive this gift you’ll find that you want to get to know Him more.  Allow yourself to spend time with Christ daily, in prayer and by reading the bible.  Eventually you will find that He knows and wants a relationship with you.