I’m an Easter person.
I think we lost Christmas to commercialism years ago. Easter, although festooned with colored eggs and bunnies, is still the observance centered in the church.
Some folks will show up at church today who won’t be back until either Christmas or next Easter. That’s OK. If that’s enough to recharge your spiritual batteries, so be it.
Christian churches that meet on Sunday celebrate Easter every week. That’s why they meet on Sunday. Some folks don’t quite get that.
The fifth commandment tells us to remember the Sabbath and keep it holy. The Sabbath is Saturday. My watch, which has the day and date sometimes gets askew, sometimes shows me the letters Sab. That is the abbreviation for Sabado, a reference to the Sabbath.
According to the Scriptures, Jesus rose from the dead on the first day, which is Sunday. That’s why most Christian denominations observe the day of worship on Sunday. Bottom line, if you miss going to church today, come next week.
I like the excitement of Easter. I like the joyous hymns we sing on Easter. They are resurrection songs that we bring out primarily on Easter. You can sing them anytime, but it would be kind of like singing “Take me out to the ballgame” at the first football game of the year.
I like the classics. My favorite Easter hymn is “He Lives.” It was written by Alfred Henry Ackley and published in 1933. It has been sung in all kinds of churches. Georgia native Alan Jackson recorded it on his album of sacred songs.
It was written in 6/8 time and has a different tempo. I always like it when the music leader stretches it out a little bit.
“He Lives” has a couple of places to hold out for emphasis.
“You ask me how I know he lives?” the song asks.
We like to hold that out for an extra couple of seconds of thought.
“He Lives!” we respond, holding it again. “Within my heart.”
We also sing the hymn known for two names. Some hymnals call it “Christ Arose” while others call it “Low in the Grave He Lay.”
I misunderstood that when I was a kid. I thought it said “Low in the gravy lay Jesus, my Savior.” I wondered for a couple of years why Jesus was in the gravy in the first place.
The song was written by Robert Lowry, who also wrote “Shall we gather at the river.” He died in 1899. He didn’t live long enough to see Willie Nelson sing his song in concert while swigging Lone Star beer and puffing on something I assume was not a cigarette.
If you’re pondering going to church today with a Lone Star and a left-handed Lucky, you might want to think twice about that.
In the places where this column is circulated, there is a church on almost every corner. I think most of them would be delighted to see you and would welcome you with open arms on the day we celebrated the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
If not, there’s always next week.
Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose columns appear on the Sunday Life page and on www.gainesvilletimes.com.