Growing up in Easter
Easter is one of my favorite days of the liturgical church year!
(It is in a tie with Pentecost!) 
I vividly remember Easter mornings as a child. Before the Easter bunny and egg hunts, we made our way to church. Mom had us in lace dresses and white shoes (that did not remain white for long!). In our small church the sermon was the work of the people on Easter. We would read the Easter story. Then the empty cross would come to life with flowers, as one child after another would place flowers on the cross in the front of the Sanctuary. We would sing our favorite Easter hymns as Resurrection joy was made present. Yesterday, today, and tomorrow we celebrate being a people of the Resurrection! 
My little sister, Elizabeth, and me
Easter 1987, Dahlonega Presbyterian Church
Easter is Resurrection Day!
Easter is Resurrection Day! It is a high holy day of remembering what God has done, is doing, and will do in Christ Jesus. It is a day of celebrating that we are called to be an Easter People. 
Easter represents new beginnings, life after death, light in the darkness, and newfound energy in our journeys of discipleship.
This Easter we get to arrive at the empty tomb while it is still dark. 
On one particular Easter our family gathered at the beach off the South Carolina coast. A local church was offering a sunrise service on the beach. Early Easter morning, I woke up to the coffee brewing. I could hear scurrying around the house as our family realized we had overslept. Nevertheless, we made it on time! 
Our family arrived at the boardwalk while it was still dark. You could hear the sound of familiar Easter hymns. We all were still rubbing our eyes trying to wake up. We knew it was Easter morning but with all the rushing around, spilling coffee in the chaos, and running to worship – the glory of the day hadn’t taken hold of us until. . .
Until the sun began to rise over the ocean and we heard the sound of bagpipes in the distance making their way closer to the worshipping community. 
That is when I could hear the resounding Alleluias!
Yes, He is Risen indeed.
This is what Easter is about and what every day ought to be about – the Risen Lord. We joined in the hymns of joy, love, promise, and hope. God revealed God's self to our family through the gift of a magnificent sunrise on the beach and bagpipes with their familiar sound springing forth Easter emotions. We rejoiced in the new creation of a new day! 
Lane family Easter 2015
An Easter Sunrise experience gives us an opportunity to participate in Resurrection joy breaking through the darkness. If you have not attended an Easter Sunrise service, I encourage you to try it this year by joining us on the front lawn of the church at 6:30am. Then, I invite you to come back at 11:00am as we lift our voices and sing praises to the Living God! 
On Easter morning we will read John’s account of Jesus’ resurrection. You are encouraged to read our scripture and ponder it in your heart.
 Together we will ask ourselves the questions Jesus asks Mary,
"Why are you weeping?
Who are you looking for?"
We will hear Mary’s eyewitness account of the empty tomb and join her in announcing,
“I have seen the Lord!”
While it was still dark, Mary saw and believed. She then declared this good news of great joy to the disciples. Yes, church even in the darkness and grief resurrection happens.
We will be called by name and sent out to proclaim the good news of the Risen Lord!
This image is of an oil painting on canvas by Rev. T. Denise Anderson titled Rabouni! inspired by John 20:1-18. Following is the artist’s statement.
In the days immediately after a loved one’s passing, we often muddle through life until the closure of the funeral, when it will all—or mostly— be over. What happens when it doesn’t appear you’ll have that closure anytime soon, or ever? Some of us have experienced delayed burials due to difficult circumstances. The closure the funeral provides helps us begin piecing life together in our loved one’s absence. Without that ritual, it’s incredibly difficult to move on.
This is the space in which Mary Magdalene finds herself. She arrives at the tomb to provide burial services for her dear teacher, only to find his body is gone. What grief that must have thrown her into, having her last act of love for him arrested like that! There is no reason to expect that the stranger speaking to her is her beloved teacher, and maybe that’s why she doesn’t recognize him immediately. It’s in the intimacy of him calling her name that she realizes what’s happening.
Here, I attempt to convey the grief, befuddlement, and ultimate realization that I imagine Mary experienced in this encounter. The light source is above her, as Jesus’ simple address—“Mary”—invites her to shift from any potential navel-gazing and to pay attention to the heaven-crafted phenomenon before her. Moreover, Jesus’ address to her comes from a deeply intimate place and is the only thing powerful enough to pierce through her grief. She is profoundly seen and known by her teacher. I want us to behold her the way that Jesus might have in that moment.
-Rev. T. Denise Anderson
A Sanctified Art LLC
Beloved, how will you show up at the empty tomb this Easter? Why will you come? I pray you will come with full anticipation of experiencing Easter joy and the good news of the risen Lord.
Neeley Rentz Lane
Sermon writing and worship preparations are a holy art. I prayerfully engage the living word with imagination, curiosity, and an openness for the Spirit to dance!
My hope as your pastor through “Neeley’s Notions” is to offer stories and perspectives to ignite your own imagination, curiosity, and openness to the Spirit. - this will be a periodical email offering as the Spirit leads!