As most of you know, I grew up in a traditional Southern Baptist home. It is something that I am thankful for and to be honest, something I appreciate even more as I get older.

I am the person I am today because faith and commitment to Jesus were instilled within me at a very early age.

They taught me to value Jesus, His words, and church above all other things. Family, friends, and the Baptist church were instrumental in teaching me some of the most important things about life and faith I needed for this life.

One of the things they did wonderfully was teaching me about Easter. They knew the significance of the celebration of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection from the grave; and made every attempt to instill that within each person.

I have come to realize that I have many great memories of my childhood within that Baptist church. One of the most profound and life-shaping of those events was Easter. I have many great memories of the things we did on this wonderful day.

One of those memories is the “Sunrise Service.”

Every Easter, we would gather together at the church building, at least a couple of hours before sunrise. As sunrise approached, we would listen as someone read to us the story of Jesus’ crucifixion. They would spend as much time as possible making sure we understood that Easter was not just another day and it was not about a bunny or candy.

Then, just before dawn, we would all go outside. Sometimes we would go to the graveyard behind the church, to reinforce the idea of death and resurrection.  As dawn approached, we would begin reading the story of the resurrection. There was something so powerful and spiritual about seeing the rays of light begin to filter in upon you as you visualized Jesus coming up out of that grave.  It seemed to make the great truth of Jesus’ resurrection so real that you could feel it in every fiber of your being.

They wanted to make sure that we understood that the resurrection of Jesus was foundational to faith. Without the resurrection from the grave, we would have no hope of life after our own deaths. Without the resurrection of Jesus, he was just another great man who was killed for his faith. The empty tomb proves that Jesus was the Son of God and it proves that we too can live in hope and expectation of coming up out that grave one day.

So, this Easter, let me encourage you to take the time to read the story of Jesus’ crucifixion. Read the story of his death, burial, and resurrection. Take the time to meditate on the facts, on the fears of the disciples, and most importantly, on the joy that filled their hearts when they realized that the tomb was empty. Let this story fill your heart and soul and then share that story with those around you. Remember, Easter reminds us of the powerful truth that Jesus promises us life after death.