Growing up in a divorced and remarried home, traditions seemed not to be something my family spent much time on. Most holidays were spent with me going to see dad. Once school got out for summer break, I had my bags packed and was off to see him for a few months. This was the same case with Christmas break. My mom and my step-dad would celebrate Christmas with me a few days or a week before the 25th so that we could open presents, and then I would go see dad and not come home until after New Years. Most holidays or vacations that were longer than a few days were spent this way since I lived in Texas and my dad in North Carolina. Because of the traveling and going here and there seeing family, no big traditions were really created.
Easter was a holiday where no travel was involved. I would go to church with my mom and step-dad then, come home to eat lunch or go out to eat. It wasn’t much different than any other Sunday except that I dressed a little nicer. Oh, and there were Easter eggs with candy left on the kitchen table for me in the morning when I woke up.
I do remember a sunrise service one year when I was in 9th grade. Leading up to that day I was dreading the service because at a sunrise service you have to be up and at your location before the sun rises! This service, though, really touched me.
Our pastor had planted a large wooden cross in the front yard of the church the week before Easter, and during the service, as I saw the sun rise over the cross, our pastor handed out large 3-inch nails. He explained that we celebrate the forgiveness of sin that we have due to the death on Good Friday, but most importantly the rising on Sunday that Jesus performed. He then had us take a nail and one by one come nail it to the cross. Each person did as was instructed and while I heard the bang, bang, bang of each hammer swing I thought of Jesus hanging on the cross for all the sins of the world.
Once everyone was done, our pastor had us look at the cross, full of nails, and said each of us was the reason Jesus went to the cross. He would have done it for just one of those nails but he did it for all of them…and so many more that we couldn’t possibly fit them on that cross.
Having traditions are great and I have been able to inherit some from my bride and her family over the years as we’ve made some of our own. Not having traditions made this different and unique experience stick in my mind for many years, and each time I think about that cross full of nails I am thankful for the saviour that took them for me.