Carol Huston | April 9, 2023
It was an Easter miracle when my Mom actually said “Yes” to the yellow patent leather shoes!
She was always the practical one to only buy new shoes that went with EVERYTHING but these shoes only matched our yellow Easter egg dresses along with our yellow matching opaque stockings and yellow barrettes! Nothing else. Maybe she said “yes” because it was already 5pm on the Saturday night before Easter Sunday at Randhurst Shopping Center Mall in Mt Prospect, Illinois. Maybe she was exhausted from shopping between the Weiboldt’s and Carson Pirie Scott and Company, trying to find my sister and I the perfect matching Easter outfits and my brother a new suit and tie. All i know, is THIS time, she said “yes” ... We got home and I was so excited to get up for Easter the next morning... this year was going to be the best Sunrise Easter Service EVER!
I remember, as if it were yesterday, waking up that Sunday morning, pre-dawn and in the pitch-black of night. We got dressed in our matching Easter outfits. My older sister, Joy, and I 'twinning' except for our puffy ski jackets over our matching little dresses, and my brother in his new suit and tie - after all, It was Chicago in the middle of a very cold Spring! My Mom had on a brilliant flower-patterned Easter dress that looked amazing over the new girdle and stockings that she bought at Weiboldt’s the day before. It had been a good last minute shopping day at the mall and we were ready for the Easter Sunrise Service.
We piled in our Rambler Station Wagon. As she drove, Mom went over the music she would be conducting with the adult, youth, and children’s choirs. We would all be singing the Hallelujah chorus together to close the service, as the sun rose. I always thought of this super early sunrise service as “the early bird gets the worm” service. We get up before anyone else, see the sun come up in all its glory, and see the risen Lord - before anyone else! Or at least imagine what that would be like to see the stone rolled away at dawn and Jesus walking around alive, even after everyone thought He was dead. How wild!
Meanwhile, Dad would have already been at the church, in the kitchen, having arrived at 4:00 AM to commandeer the Easter Sunrise Pancake Breakfast! He had been a short order cook to put himself through Purdue University as an Engineering student. Who knew that later in life, this would be his superpower as an Elder of our church!? He would organize and shop the day before Easter for the bacon, sausage, fruit, orange juice, and coffee for a congregation of around 200 people. Keep in mind, these were years before the convenience of Costco! He made the pancakes from scratch and i remember them being extra yummy because they were made by him, with love!
My mom and us kids would get there early enough for her to warm up the organ and practice a hymn or two. My brother and sister and I would cuddle together in the front row because churches are always cold before everybody arrives! My Mom was a magnificent organist, pianist, and conductor - she did it all for free. So did my dad. This was their true Christian love. They served.
The service was always inspiring and a little nerve-wracking. I was so nervous to sing a solo with the children’s choir but Mom would give me that look - I knew I had to sing louder! At the very end of the service, after the sermon was over, all of the choirs would line up and file in to the front of the sanctuary. There would be an awkward silence as we made our way to the front, my mom would move the music stand way back down the church aisle so she could see all of us. She would give the down beat and her friend, Sarah, would begin playing the intro on the organ to the “Hallelujah Chorus” from Handel’s Messiah. My mom would reverently turn to the congregation, to get them to stand. We would sing,
“Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah... For the Lord God Omnipotent, Reigneth! Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah”
She would be smiling and conducting with such joy. I would be caught up in the front row of the children’s choir, hearing the adults and teenagers singing behind me with all of their hearts! I smelled the bacon, sausage, fresh coffee, and pancakes that my father was preparing downstairs in the church basement, getting ready for all of us to come downstairs to continue to celebrate the Sunrise Easter together!
I was filled with what I know now was the Glory of God.
Looking down at my new miraculous yellow patent leather shoes and my new Easter dress, singing my heart out to the smiling conductor, who happened to be my mom. Together, on this early sunny morning, our little congregation in Mt. Prospect Illinois, were the first to greet Jesus in all His risen glory. The miracles of eternal life, hope, and new beginnings filled me to sing even louder and smile back at the Conductor. I looked forward to the pancakes and bacon waiting for me from the smiling Chef, my Dad!!
It was the BEST Easter EVER!
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