At an Easter sunrise this morning on a hilltop with three wooden crosses, Christians celebrated the resurrection of Jesus.
“It’s the most important day of my life,” said Davilyn Smith. “It reminds me what’s been given to me.”
On a chilly morning, she came with her daughter, who wrapped herself in a blanket for the outdoor service as the sun rose in the east. More than 100 people gathered at the wooden crosses on top of the hill at Jefferson Memorial Gardens for the service that started at sunrise. Other sunrise services were held around Birmingham, including at Vulcan Park and Avondale Park.
“It’s beautiful to come for the sunrise, to watch the sun come up and see the crosses,” said Lauren Smith. “Easter is about the Son of God rising.”
Christians worldwide today celebrate their holiest day, Easter, which commemorates the Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth.
Easter has long been a mix of the secular and the sacred, of candy, flowers and bunnies, symbols of spring and of church and family tradition.
Across Alabama, Easter celebrates family, renewal and redemption. Many will share baskets of seasonal candy, then attend church.
The Smiths said they were leaving the sunrise service to get dressed for a more formal Easter service at First Baptist Church of Trussville. “I’m going to go put on my Easter dress,” Lauren said.
For devout Christians, there is a message to proclaim that supersedes decorated Easter eggs, which are symbols of spring and renewal.
Christianity’s humble beginnings trace to a moment when Jesus of Nazareth was crucified in Jerusalem, then part of the Roman Empire, about 33 A.D. The Resurrection startled even Jesus’ own followers, according to the Gospels. The disciples were skeptical, as is evident in Matthew 28:16-17. That the most ardent followers couldn’t believe their eyes when they saw the risen Jesus gives an indication how difficult the central doctrine of the Christian faith can be for modern believers.
One argument made for the reality of the Resurrection is the astonishing growth of Christianity from a few followers who scattered, frightened, when Jesus was crucified. At the time, the Apostle Paul wrote his letters, about 54 A.D., he said that more than 500 witnesses who had seen Jesus resurrected were still alive.
Easter celebrates that God offers meaning beyond death.
For Christians, the resurrection of Jesus after his crucifixion means he paid for their sins and resurrection is available to all believers.
According to the Gospel of Luke, Jesus was crucified with two criminals, one on each side of him. One mocked Jesus.
“Aren’t you the messiah?” he said. “Save yourself and us!”
The other criminal asked for mercy. “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
Jesus answers the penitent thief, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43, NIV)
Happy Easter. Peace. love and light.