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View from Hickory Heights: Because He Lives

This weekend is Easter Sunday, the day all Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. It is an important day in the church calendar. In fact, it is the basis of the Christian religion. It gets its meaning from the Bible. In John 3:16 and 17 we read, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”(NIV)

When my first husband was alive our family used to sing in church every now and then. We loved the music of Bill and Gloria Gaither. We often sang their songs. We especially liked “He Touched Me”, The Family of God“, and “Because He Lives”. A friend once told me that she did not like the third verse of that song because it pertained to human death. To me that verse brings comfort as it talks about crossing over the river and fighting life’s final war with pain. We loved the whole song because it is about the glorious resurrection of the Lord and knowing that he reigns.

Our children often tired of the practicing that we did. Once Dick came home from the barn on a Sunday afternoon, he would take us all into the den and we would sing. I was the reluctant organ player. He liked organ music.

I recently read about the writing of “Because He Lives”. Bill and Gloria were expecting their first child. Thus, the reference to a baby. They questioned the wisdom of bringing a baby into this turbulent world that they were living in. This was the era of the Vietnam War and the hippie movement. Segregation was another issue with the schools just beginning to be integrated. There was no doubt about it. These were turbulent times.

As I read that I thought about how things are today. We are once again in turbulent times. We made it through the sixties and seventies so I suppose we will make it through the 2020s too.

The song was first published in 1971. It has been added to most of the Christian song books published from that time on. It is a favorite song to sing for Easter, but is sung at other times as well.

It was Bill’s father who got their productive creative juices flowing. It is said that when he pointed out a blade of grass growing up through the parking lot it triggered something. “This tiny plant had such a strong will to live that it had overcome all the odds to fulfill its destiny.”

With the birth of their first baby, it renewed their hope for the world. After all, they knew the rest of the story. They had read the Bible. I am sure that Gloria added the verse about holding a newborn baby after her son was born. Certainly, all mothers can relate to that special feeling that comes when you first hold that baby that you carried for nine months.

There are so many wonderful Easter songs. Hopefully, we will be able to sing some of them. We are currently without our organist and we miss her terribly – not only for her music, but for her presence. Thankfully she is now on the mend so hopefully she can rejoin us soon.

I would be remiss if I did not mention the idea of the Negro spirituals. When I cruised often as we came off the ship there were musicians singing and playing. Some of the most beautiful tunes were simply sung by the natives without accompaniment.

“Were You There” is one of those. It is a heartfelt song that really makes you think about the suffering Jesus faced. Thankfully the last verse reminds us that Jesus rose from the dead.

Often churches are full on Easter Sunday. I hope that is true this year. If you are not sure what all of this is about, I would gladly share my faith with you. A call or an e-mail could give you answers.

Have a happy and blessed Easter!

Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell, Pa. Contact her at hickoryheights1@verizon.net

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