Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

March 31, 2002


There is no other day in the year quite like Easter Sunday!


            Christmas is a wonderful day, but it comes in second to Easter for me. No other day thrills my soul quite like Easter Sunday. I love it all -- the Easter bunnies, the Easter eggs, the Easter clothes, and the Easter music. What a glorious day of celebration!

            The cynic may say that I prefer Easter because more people go to church on Easter than on any other Sunday. That is true, and it is also true that few of us Protestants even go to church on Christmas Day – unless it falls on a Sunday. I confess that I do love to see the church packed on Easter Sunday, especially if I have the honor of preaching.

            But there is more to it than the large attendance for me. There is the growing sense of anticipation as we move from Palm Sunday, to Maundy Thursday, to Good Friday, and finally to that glad morning when God kicked the end out of the tomb and let the light out.  When I go to bed on Saturday night I can hardly wait for my alarm to go off at 5 a.m., stirring me to arise and go sing, “He arose a victor from dark domain, and He lives forever with His saints to reign."

            Every Easter Sunday I have to find a sunrise service somewhere, whether I am preaching or not. For many years now I have enjoyed the sunrise service at Moore Stadium in Opelika. I am planning to go again this year. I don’t know who is preaching but that doesn’t matter. I just want to be there to hear some preacher tell me again, “He is risen!”

 I must confess I really like it when one of my black brothers preaches; for some reason those fellows can really shell the corn. And the more they stir my soul, the more I want to find a pulpit where I can proclaim the good news myself. After all, is there any better news than the glad announcement that God has given us victory over death? Does it get any better than to hear that one day I will be able to see my Savior face to face, and to see again my son David, my sister Laurida, my mom, my dad, and all the friends I have loved and lost? I don’t think so!

            I want to get there early so I can eat a doughnut, have some orange juice, and drink a cup of coffee. Each year these refreshments are provided by the Pilot Club and the Kiwanis Club of Opelika. Then with a hundred or so other people from many different churches, I will blend my voice with theirs as we belt out the words, “Up from the grave He arose, with a mighty triumph o’er his foes!” As much as I love the Auburn fight song, it does not compare to the resurrection song of God’s people!

            If it is raining when I awaken Sunday morning, I will smile and say, “Thank you, Lord, for the rain.” Some folks may turn over and go back to sleep, but not me. I will wrap up and worship in the rain if I must, or simply follow the crowd over to First Presbyterian Church, the backup location in case of bad weather. Rain will not dampen my enthusiasm for this glorious morning!

            After the sunrise service I will return home, fine tune my own sermon for the morning, and make my way to Trinity. It will be my last Easter Sunday as pastor of this wonderful church. How fortunate I have been – these gracious people have allowed me to celebrate Easter with them for 13 years! They will never be able to understand the depth of my gratitude for the high privilege of serving God with them all these years!

            By high noon Easter Sunday I will have preached twice about the amazing love which caused Jesus to die in order that the gift of eternal life might be offered to all who believe. When I enter the pulpit each time Sunday morning, I will be breathing a prayer for my fellow pastors – Larry, Clifford, A. L., Willie, Greg, Jim, Mike, Tim, Steve, Al, Tommy, Frank, Ezra,  Mark, Tom, George, Rusty, Molly, Fred, Virginia, Alton, Gloria, James,  Robbins, Elizabeth, Rick, Loren, Rob, and John, to name a few. I will ask the Father to let our messages be so authentic, and so anointed with power, that all over Lee County a loud “Hallelujah!” will be shouted by God’s people of all denominations that celebrate the resurrection of our Lord!  Despite our differences, we are one in Jesus Christ!

After Jesus was resurrected he appeared many times to his disciples. On one occasion the gospel writer says that “some doubted.” Some still doubt today, while others choose to believe that by the time the angel had rolled the stone away and sat on it, God had already raised Jesus from the dead. 

Many believe today that Jesus lives. I am one of them. Perhaps that is the main reason I love Easter so much. It gives me the chance to say, “Thank you, Lord, for conquering death and hell, and giving me that which I do not deserve – the gift of eternal life.”

Easter Sunday! Bring it on!