Friday, April 2, 2010

Easter Sunday-The Rural Way

When I was a child, Easter Sunday service was an important day in our rural community. Families would put on their very best-often new clothing and go to church. We would join people who attended church every Sunday and those who only came on holidays- people who wanted the Christian experience. Easter Sunday was (and remains) a day when churches are filled to capacity.

Photo: My brother and I in our new duds. Between my mom and my grandmother, I had plenty of pretty dresses. Yes, that's a baby chick dyed green. He was very much loved and well taken care of by my family.

I loved Easter Sunday for many reasons. My mother would make or purchase her children new garments to wear. We didn't have much extra money so this was truly a treat.

We also received baskets of candy from the- um - Easter Bunny. EB has come a long way since my childhood. Today the Easter Bunny's travel can be tracked with an IPhone app.

Part of the excitement of wearing new clothing to church was seeing what others were wearing and of course receiving compliments on your attire. Easter Sunday brought out the hats for adult women and little girls. You would see white gloves and shiny shoes. There were suits and ties for the gents. There were updos and new haircuts. The men would slick back their hair with some kind of hair cream and were clean shaven. Everyone looked very nice.

Photo: Teresa as a teenager in her Easter clothing.

After church services we would change out of our new duds and head for an Easter lunch at my Grandma Sadie's (pictured on right) farm where we would be joined by many relatives. Often, her children and their families would visit from out of town so to attend the old country church on Easter Sunday, where they had also attended as youth. After a fantastic lunch, the children would hunt for colored hard boiled eggs. Then the women would clean up the kitchen. The men would go outside to smoke and talk. The women would eventually sit down and visit. And the children would play. It was a wonderful time.

There were also Easter Sundays where our family would travel to a state park nearby and have a picnic. Family togetherness. Fun.

Photo: This is the state park where my father worked for many years. Make sure you "see" the old cars.

Church Services
In my rural community, church services were an important element of our lives. We worshipped on Sunday, that evening and on Wednesday evenings. We said prayers over our food and we studied our Bibles most days. That's not to say we didn't have our sin or that our hearts were pure, but we took our worship of God very seriously.  Being part of a church family helped form my character and set up my value system that assisted me in raising my own children. Of course those values intruded on my teenage years.

Significance of Religion
What was the significance of my religious experience growing up? How did it affect my adulthood? This is what I learned. I learned a long time ago the difference between religion, attending church and having a spiritual relationship with God. They are different. Religion can be a set rules forced on another with or without love- kind of a legalism. Many people attend church just going through the motions. But the real thing, the thing that church services should be about -loving God and accepting his love, I learned. I got it. And I had many great examples of  faithful people in my family and community. My Christian upbringing also helped me form my own set of morals and values. But, the best part of a rural community and a church family (besides the food) is that you have a wonderful support system- where people really care about you.