The last full-blown Easter traditions and reports I remember came via email from my mom, 3 years ago while I was in China. She described a meaningful cross-walk with parishioner members on Good Friday, a church Easter egg hunt for the kids, a potluck supper in the church basement, a well-sung Easter anthem which she led as choir director on Easter Sunday and the many lilies, tulips and hyacinths that graced the sanctuary in remembrance or honor of others.
In contrast, I shared my own Easter celebrations.
Among my students, I held traditional events in the English Center , including students, colleagues and their kids coloring hard-boiled eggs. I organized 6 of my first year classes to have an egg hunt in the classroom by hiding colored construction-paper eggs which could be exchanged for prizes. (The gold egg was worth 50 yuan, about $9 US, while other colors were chocolate, rabbit stuffed animals and flowers.).
In my Chinese church, weeks of choir practices had us busy preparing for our special Easter anthems and looking forward to the 50 + baptisms of new believers during the service. I remember we choir members arrived at the church for warm-up and prayers at 7:30 a.m. with worship beginning at 8:30. Pastor Liao had managed to reserve the Luzhou Christian drumming troop to welcome in Easter with a parade down the alleyway into the sanctuary. Baptisms started at 10 a.m. followed at 11:30 with communion with our new brothers and sisters in Christ. A substantial meal in containers full of rice and stir fried meat and vegetables, including a hardboiled Easter egg, was served to all 700 present. Parishioner members also carried free meals to all the shopkeepers nearby to share in our happiness. No one went home hungry on Easter Sunday, that’s for sure!
In 2019, Easter for me and my mom, located halfway around the world, had been very meaningful, joyful and spiritually rewarding.
Then came Covid-19, which stranded me here in the States while China went into full lockdown, even today not allowing foreign teachers such as myself to return.
In-person services ended for two Easters in my small-town USA church for 2020 and 2021, with only one Easter service going to online in Luzhou in 2020.
But here we are two years later and Easter in Marshall is here again in full swing.
Pictures galore for my Chinese Students and Friends
These weeks leading up to Easter have given me the opportunity to collect numerous pictures to share with my students. Palm Sunday, egg hunts, potlucks and church events have had my cell phone collecting hundreds of photos and recordings which I’ve been posting in my Chinese WeChat groups and blogs. My computer is full of theme-centered folders, all awaiting the day when I can put together powerpoints to share back in my Chinese college classroom.
China can’t stay closed forever. When my college can authorize my invitation letter to return, I plan to be ready.
Want to see a little sampling of what I’ve collected and posted so far? Here you go!
First UMC Easter Egg Hunt
Potluck Thursday Evening Dinner
Carry-the-Cross Walk for Good Friday: Sponsored by Marshall First UMC