It’s Easter season in the South. The dogwoods are blooming. The azaleas are pink enough to take your breath away. The pollen is sending people to the ER.
I’m covering the arrival of Easter, and it’s big in the Southeastern United States. Here, the world comes unglued. This is the time of year when small country churches get so many visitors, cars have to park on the lawn.
Sometimes, the excitement is too much for local pastors to bear.
Last year, for instance, Pastor Jeremy Parker of Greene County, Tennessee, made Easter memorable for his congregation. He decided to preach a sermon while dressed like the risen Savior.
He wore a long white robe which his wife had sewn, and carried a shepherd’s staff.
His assistant pastor wanted to take things a step further. He masked the sanctuary windows with black paper and pointed a spotlight on the pastor to better portray the splendor of the risen Lord.
On Easter morning, the church was packed—standing room only. The lights went off, the church went dark. The spotlight hit Pastor Jeremy and—I’m sorry to say—his paper-thin tunic became semi-transparent.
The children of Israel could see his outline beneath the robe. And everyone knew without a doubt that the pastor did not believe in underpants.
Now, if Pastor Jeremy would’ve attempted this in, say, Ann Arbor, Michigan, they would’ve hauled him away to a padded cell. But this was not Michigan.
Pilgrim’s Primitive Baptist, in Dallas County, is going to bring livestock into their sanctuary this Easter. I spoke to a deacon about it.
“We originally wanted lambs,” said Albert Dillard. “And we were gonna have a donkey, too, since Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey.”
Albert made some phone calls, but no luck. Nobody had lambs. No donkeys, either.
But all was not lost. Albert was able to secure several Red Rock chickens, a few goats, and a mule. One church member was even generous enough to let the church use his ostrich.
Albert has lined the sanctuary with plastic drop cloths because, in his own words: “Ostrich and goats make big messes.”
And of course, I don’t want to forget to tell you about Bishop Ricky Moore, in Shreveport, Louisiana.
A few years ago, the bishop wanted members of his congregation to experience an Easter resurrection like never before.
One deacon suggested locking the bishop in a coffin for three days without food, water, or toilet, then unlocking him on Sunday morning. Bishop Ricky loved the idea.
I know, I know. You’re probably wanting to know if the idea was a success. Well, let’s just say Ricky made the six-o’clock news.
So is this a big weekend? You bet. And why shouldn’t it be? It’s when we celebrate things we believe in, and watch them come to life before our eyes.
It’s when you can ride through rural hamlets and see wooden crosses perched in every front yard, hillside, and clapboard church.
It’s my favorite time of year. When the maintenance man from our church changes the purple cloth on the cross by the highway to a white cloth.
It’s when Mama wears her hat. When Sunday dinner is big, and open to strangers. When we visit meeting houses our grandparents were baptized in.
When we sing the melodies our ancestors sang.
When girls wear brand new dresses, and boys wear neckties. It’s when ministers shout, “He is risen!” And we, the redeemed of Zion, shout back—
Well, you know the rest.
So, from me and mine to you: I hope you have the happiest dadgum Easter. I wish you sweet tea, baked ham, potato salad, and all the love you can stand.
And above all.
I hope Pastor Jeremy wears briefs this year.