Janet Hommel Mangas: Importance of Easter remains through generations

The last time my husband celebrated his birthday on Easter was in 1960 — the year he was born. The next two times Easter will be celebrated on April 17 after 2022 are the years 2033, then 2044.

After that, it jumps to the year 2101 — the year Steven and I will both be 141 years of age. By 2101, I sincerely anticipate celebrating the death and resurrection of Jesus in person, one way or another.

Easter’s date may seem arbitrary, but it’s always the on the Sunday after the first Paschal full moon, which is the first full moon on or after March 21.

I have a black and white photo on my oak desk of me and four of my siblings (David and Christopher had not been born – although Mom could have been pregnant with David who is 9 years younger than me.) Leta and Debbie are perched on the edge of our old brown couch, each holding up a decorated egg with their white Easter Sunday gloves.

This had to have been after Sunday Mass, because we are all dressed in our “Easter best” — white anklets, black patent-leather shoes with a side, one-hole buckle fastening thin strap. (Those cute but inflexible shoes that I would get reprimanded for slipping my heel in and out without actually unbuckling them.)

Debbie has on a white and dark plaid skirt with a matching little girl’s dark suit jacket that had a collar that matched the skirt. Leta, also holding up her egg with white gloves, had on a light-colored jacket with a plaid color that I assume matched her skirt — little brother Kevin is kneeling in front of her so I can’t see the entire outfit.

We are all holding our Easter baskets. Kevin and Jerri’s baskets are different from the three eldest kids’ traditional woven wicker baskets. The younger pair’s baskets seem to be made of hard round cardboard, like a quality small movie popcorn container with a picture of an Easter bunny on it and some type of fabric handle attached by metal rivet brads. Jerri has on a little sailor dress with bow and anchor at the collar and Kevin’s wearing a starched white long-sleeve dress shirt, dark dress pants and dark belt.

Kevin and Jerri are kneeling in front of us elder three girls perched on the couch. With all four sisters holding up our eggs, Kevin couldn’t wait, and with side-eyes —maybe looking at the threatening adult not taking the photo — he is already biting into a chocolate egg. I am guessing Leta is 10, Debbie is 9, I am 7, Kevin 5, and Jerri 4.

Of course I didn’t understand Easter like I do now, but what I do understand from the photo is that worshipping God was important enough for my mother and father to go through the hassle of getting five kids (then later seven) ready for church each and every Sunday.

My husband, nicknamed “the little Easter bunny” followed suit, and we were blessed that our three daughters continue to love and serve in the church. And now our grandson, John Steven, born exactly two weeks before the Paschal full moon, will be attending his first Easter service.

In a letter written by a guy named Paul way before there was USPS:

“When we were utterly helpless, with no way of escape, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners who had no use for him. Even if we were good, we really wouldn’t expect anyone to die for us, though, of course, that might be barely possible. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since by his blood he did all this for us as sinners, how much more will he do for us now that he has declared us not guilty? Now he will save us from all of God’s wrath to come. And since, when we were his enemies, we were brought back to God by the death of his Son, what blessings he must have for us now that we are his friends and he is living within us!

Now we rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God—all because of what our Lord Jesus Christ has done in dying for our sins—making us friends of God.”

— Romans 5:6-11 (Living Bible)