I grew up attending Blue Ridge Baptist Church, in Blue Ridge Va. This is a small community in Botetourt County, east of Roanoke and west of Lynchburg. At that time the majority of those living in the African American community had homes within walking distance of the church. When I was a child, boys and girls had Sunday clothing and in the spring everyone received a new Easter dress or a suit and tie. My family, friends and I always had to learn lines for poems to say from memory for the church play and most often it would be the seven last words of Christ on the cross. As an adult, I moved to Roanoke but continued attending my home church. When I married and had children, they went to church with me most of the time and grew up with the tradition of Easter programs.
In 2019, I was watching Tom and Jerry cartoons with my grandchildren and saw an episode that I had never viewed before. It is entitled "Happy Go Ducky.": On Easter Sunday morning Tom and Jerry get a package on their front steps from the Easter Bunny. A little duck jumps out and says "Happy Easter." All through the animated short, each time he sees "Tom and Jerry" the duck shouts "Happy Easter" over and over many times. It reminded me of something that happened with my daughter when she was two and one half years old.
My daughter was young, only 2 and 1/2 years old, but she was very bright. She was given four lines to say to welcome everyone that came to church on the Sunday of the celebration of Christ's resurrection. She knew her lines well as she had practiced them many times. She stood on the stage of Blue Ridge Baptist Church in a light green silk and satin dress with a crinoline. She was wearing a white bonnet, white lace socks, and white patent leather shoes. She weighed 60 pounds at that tender age and was an adorable fat little girl. In attendance with her father and I were her older brother, my mom, brother, sister-in-law grandmother, mother-in-law, my great aunt and numerous cousins. My little girl stood on that stage and swayed back and forth, courtesied and smiled but not a word came out of her mouth. We waited and waited until finally the mistress of the ceremony went to the mic and said, to the crowd of about 70 people, " Ladies and gentlemen, Kiesha Preston has refused to say "Good Morning, happy Easter." My impulsive, assertive child who knew her lines very well had a case of stage fright.
Good morning happy Easter, Good morning happy Easter
Once we got in the car I asked Kiesha why she did not say her part and she shrugged her shoulders and then began saying, "Good morning happy Easter, Good morning Happy Easter, over and over during the 20-minute ride back home. We ate dinner with my mother and grandma and spent the afternoon at their home. During those several hours, my daughter repeated her Easter greeting numerous times. We went to my mother in law's home later in the evening and as we were sitting on the front porch, Kiesha was swinging around a metal rail that went from the cement porch up to the underside of the roof. As she did so she continued her recitation of "Good morning happy Easter, good morning happy Easter over and over until we went home. I wanted to swat her behind real good.
He is risen indeed
Family tradition continued
2019 marked 30 years since my daughter refused to say "Good morning happy Easter during the church program. My mother, grandmother, great aunt, one of my brothers, several cousins and a majority of those who were in the congregation that day have passed on. Even so, each resurrection Sunday morning and sometimes on birthdays, Christmas, July 4th and other special occasions, my husband and I call our daughter on the phone and say "Good morning happy Easter." Many times she gives us the greeting first without even saying hello. Her older brother often will tease her by saying "Ladies and gentlemen, Kiesha Preston has refused to say "Good morning, happy Easter." Our family will continue this greeting until there is no one left to say it or Christ returns, whichever comes first. This is the bottom line to faith for those who have chosen to follow Christ. We know that one day there will be a great reunion with all our loved ones who died as believers. This is our blessed hope, that we will see all of them again and get to live with Him for all eternity. It will be a good morning and Happy Easter/Resurrection which will be eternal.
He is risen-He is risen indeed
Long before church buildings, Sunday gatherings, an order of service, and folk saying "I'm blessed and highly favored" or another lingo, there was one way that the early believers greeted each other. The first person to speak would say, "He is risen and the response would be, "He is risen indeed." For 30 years my family members have greeted each other with, "Good morning happy Easter" although it troubles those who believe the word Easter is pagan and choose to say "Resurrection Sunday." There is an old saying that, "A rose by any other name would still smell as sweet." Whether you say "Happy Resurrection Sunday," or "Good morning happy Easter" the content of the heart of true believers is the same as that early greeting among those who loved Him. "He is risen, He is risen indeed." This Easter has a special meaning for me because my husband of 40 years passed away. The hope of seeing Him again because of the sacrifice of Christ is all I have to hold onto.