With the granddaughters sitting nearby and the grandson in the next room, my daughter-in-law advised me that Easter is over in this family.
There have been the years when weather made egg hunting complicated. I looked forward to a new outfit and thought I looked great in it, then Mother Nature changed the script and I had to wear a woolen coat and overshoes because snow fell and there was mud underneath.
Still, going to church was essential. My grandmother said God would “smite” us if we didn’t go.
She sounded as if the trip to Hell was basically a chute of sorts that God could toss anyone into, especially if the sin was bad enough. I was never smitten but wasn’t sure it wouldn’t happen.
“Hell fire and damnation” worked for her, just like “Hooked on Phonics.”
Asked for a big favor or indulgence, she would reply “Ain’t never gonna happen.”
Smite number one. Two more and I was out.
Two years ago, I dressed to the nines and went to church. I think I was one of only a handful in a dress. My grandmother would probably have ordered a smiting when she saw a young woman with badly torn jeans and a striped top head to the communion rail.
Or not. The presence of God has no written dress code.
Still, Easter seems to be for kids under age 12.
My three grandchildren are over age 12, they aren’t “churched” and egg hunting would have to happen at home.
Three years ago, I put small candies and money, from $1 to $20, into plastic eggs and “hid them.” The only response was that someone was upset at not “finding” more valuable eggs.
This year, when I asked if they wanted to dye eggs, the response was, “I’m fine” (without doing it). I am still wondering how a 17-year-old can roll her eyes all the way back into her head.
I have decided the Easter story was enough, so I plan to relate it again this year.
I think I have accumulated enough smites to be at the edge of the chute to Hell.
The kids know about the Golden Rule and the Ten Commandments, but my version doesn’t have the “teeth” grandma’s did.
In my mind, God is a loving, forgiving father. Grandma’s version seemed to be sitting on a golden throne somewhere in the sky, armed with an unlimited supply of lightning bolts with which to smite people for their transgressions.
Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky. Is quoted as telling “Christianity Today” a few years ago: "All the Easter eggs and the Easter bunny are even more extraneous to the purpose of Easter than Santa is to Christmas. ... I wonder whether even some Christian churches are making the connection between Christ's death and resurrection and victory over sin — the linchpin doctrine of Christianity."
The evolution of Easter celebrations demonstrates that while the stories of Christianity are timeless, they have an adaptability that opens them up to the many cultures they contact in the world. Whether they do is fodder for universal speculation.
Once again facing fear for Easter, I would gladly return to the celebration of my childhood – fear of smiting included – to live in a more peaceful world.