They are keeping me company today – these holy ghosts of long forgotten Easters. It is fitting that they should be holy ghosts because Easter is a holy holiday. And in full disclosure, who I often heard referred to as the Holy Ghost when I was a young child, I now know as the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity – God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
But I digress from the more mundane, yet still sacred in their own way, holy ghosts of my past Easters – and they are many – the myriad memories of long-ago Resurrection Sundays. Those Easters were filled with more than just baskets full of jelly beans and chocolate bunnies. There were brand new black patent leather shoes, while lace socks, white gloves and hats – there were hats! Everybody, including my sisters and I got a hat! Guess that’s where the “in your Easter bonnet” song came from.
There was music, glorious music, hymns reserved just for Easter, which rang out so joyously, it seemed to me, more so than on other “ordinary” Sundays. And there were eggs to hunt – the hard-boiled ones we had colored the day before and plastic ones, which were more fun to find because they would have candy or coins inside, which I preferred to a hard-boiled egg any day.
Then there was Easter dinner, after church at Grandpa’s and Grandma’s house. I’m sure it was pretty typical stuff for the time – rolls, mashed potatoes, green beans, ham, I couldn’t say for sure. But what I can tell you is that there were bright purple eggs and a lamb cake. Now the “purple eggs” were hard-boiled eggs without their shells, turned purple by beet juice, I think? I only saw those eggs once a year at Grandma’s Easter dinner. Likewise, the lamb cake was only once a year as well.
This cake was Grandma’s own invention. She made a sheet cake, then cut it into sections out of which she fashioned the form of a lamb, then iced and decorated it. It was all white, white cake, white icing, only eyes, nose and mouth were a different color. The symbolism of the lamb cake never occurred to me as a child, nor do I remember any of the adults discussing the reason for a “lamb cake” at Easter. Or was it just happy coincidence? (I think not)
Either way, I realize today the deep significance of Jesus Christ as the “lamb who was slain for the sins of the world” and of the words “Take and eat; this is My body given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” (Luke 22:19 & Matthew 26:26) That’s what Easter is all about – celebrating Jesus as the sacrificial lamb without spot or blemish, crucified on a cross, for my sin, for your sin, for everyone’s sin; Jesus, who then defeated death by rising from the grave on the third day – the day we celebrate Jesus’s resurrection from the dead, Easter Sunday. Jesus, our lamb provided by God –
“The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!’ ” (John 1:29)
” . . . For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth.” (1 Corinthians 5:7-8)
“For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake.” (1 Peter 1:18-20)
” . . . He was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so He did not open His mouth.” (Isaiah 53:7)
“For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; He will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” (Revelation 7:17)
today, memories of a lamb cake displayed on Grandma’s dining room table mix with my celebration of the sacrificial Lamb who is now the Risen Lamb, sitting on heaven’s throne, waiting to welcome me home – what glory that will be!
sincerely, Grace Day