He is risen, I called to my friend, Anna, expecting the usual response of He is risen, indeed. Apparently that memo has not reached these shores. Praise the Lord, she said without hesitation, Hallelujah! So I explained to her the pasin bilong mipela (our tradition).
Anna is my counterpart in this Developing Country. Although she is 8 years younger, we both have grown children. She is bubumeri to three and I am Nana to three. We have known sorrow; she is a widow and I have lost a daughter. We have learned to laugh again. We both love God and feel incredibly blessed by him.
It was a beautiful Easter morning and we sat together in our open walled church with its tarp roof and sang our hearts out. We pulled out all the stops, did a little harmonizing, sang the old Gaither song, Because He Lives, and then the song I wait for every year, Up From the Grave he Arose. This we began down low in the cellar in order to reach those high notes at the end. I don’t know if we have a soprano in our mix; it was nice to be able to sing that last ‘He Arose’ without screeching or giaman (fake) singing!
My favorite song of the morning was Aleluya. In this song one needs to find the exact balance between gusto and a runaway train. I believe our little gathering has found just the right tempo. It sounds victorious, happy and full of joy. We began with the verse;
King Jisas I kirap nau, Aleluya. Plenti ensel mekim song, Aleluya.
Litimapim nem b’long em, Aleluya. Mekim song, yumi bekim, Aleluya.
The chorus follows – six Aleluyas in a lilting, melodious refrain in which I hear worship, joy and hope. A few toes tap and flip flops flop in time to the music.
Then came time for the tok and praise God, the message of Easter remains unchanged. It can’t be improved and it doesn’t need embellishments, great video productions or hashtags. A simple reading of the gospel story tells the sad, horrific, beautiful, victorious amazing story of love, redemption and hope. Jesus died for the sins of the world, was buried and on the third day He arose.
I wrote down these words that seemed to capture the tone and meaning of the morning: Triumph, Victory, Marimari, Hope, Nupela Freedom. My favorite phrase of the day is that told to the women at the empty tomb. The angel said gently, Meri, yu no ken pret. Women, do not be afraid. That is a small sentence brim full of meaning and hope and followed with the reason why; He is risen!
After church Anna and I (we two meris who have learned the truth of that phrase yu no ken pret) walked down the path arm in arm singing, Aaaaaleluya! Aleluya Aaaaleeeluuuyaaaa…. We sang our way to the Big Shade Tree where the children were enjoying Bible time and sat behind them chatting in whispers like barefoot schoolgirls.
When the Bible time ended, Anna’s grandson ran up to her and off they headed home. So did I and as I began to walk away, I looked back to call out, Anna, He is risen!
Anna called back, Praise the Lord! Hallelujah! And then she added with a smile, He is risen indeed!