Christians reflect on holiest day of year

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 10, 2004

More than the bunnies and the bonnets, more than the colored eggs and excitement of a holiday, Easter is a time for reflecting on the miracle of Jesus Christ's death, burial and resurrection, local clergy said.

Throughout Lawrence County, Christians will gather today for services celebrating the joy of the Easter season and the joy of God's plan of salvation for mankind.

A glorious Easter

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While Christmas is perhaps the more commercially popular holiday, for the Christian, Easter, with its message of Christ's death as the price paid for our sins, his burial and resurrection, is the essence of what Christianity is all about.

"Many times we look at Christmas and when Christ was born, but for us to be born again, there was his resurrection," said the Rev. Douglas E. Carter, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Burlington. "Easter is indeed a glorious season."

The Rev. Charles Moran, pastor of St. Ann Catholic Church in Chesapeake, said the message of Easter is the triumph of good over evil.

"It is a basic contrast between love and hate,"

Moran said as he explained the story of Jesus' death on the cross. "Jesus

maintained love in the midst of that hate and triumphed in his resurrection."

Moran said Easter is the ultimate proof of Christ's love for us.

"People sometimes view Christ's suffering and death on the cross and think he suffered so much because we were so bad. But actually he suffered because he loved us so much that he was willing to do whatever his father asked of him. It was not because we were so bad, it was because he loved us so much."

More than baskets

Carter said he wished the season was less commercialized and more emphasis was placed on the true meaning of Easter: Jesus' death on the cross for our sins, his burial and his resurrection.

A week of observances

Christians marked the Holy Week in a variety of ways. Many churches had special services throughout the week, such as

Maundy Thursday and Good Friday services. Each year, members of the Sharon Baptist Church

spend Good Friday taking up their cross, literally, and carrying it to Woodland Cemetery.

"It's a tradition," Sharon Baptist Church Pastor the Rev. Steve Harvey said. "Anyone can carry it. We take turns."

The message of the event is clear, Harvey said. "I hope people recognize him as our Lord and Savior, what he did for us on Good Friday."

Some churches will begin their Easter celebration this morning with a sunrise service. In Burlington, congregations in that area gather together each year for a joint sunrise service, hosted annually by a different church. Burlington United Methodist hosted this year's service at 6:30 a.m.

Carter said there is something wonderfully special about the Easter sunrise service.

"It's a new eternal day. We watch the sun come up and we know it's a holy time," Carter said. "It's not just a holiday, it's a holy day."