‘Up from the Grave, He Arose!’

Sketch by Michaele Prince

When I was a young girl living in Tennessee, my family and I would celebrate Easter mornings at our First Methodist Church. My Sunday school class sang a few hymns before receiving our lessons. Afterward, we all proceeded to the sanctuary, where we would join our families for worship.

I loved my Sunday School class, which included friends I had known since moving to McMinnville, Tennessee, before beginning third grade. Every Easter Sunday, without fail, our class would always sing my favorite song, “Up from the Grave He Arose!” I can’t sing a lick, but when the pianist played this hymn, I belted those words with wild abandon, ignoring pesky glances and snickers.

I was almost fifteen when my family left Tennessee to begin a new life in Georgia. I attended my last Tennessee church class on a hot August Sunday morning. It was a sad, low day for me as I assumed I would never again see many of those who joined me on those Sundays. I could barely contain my tears.

I questioned how my life would be in a strange new town in a foreign state. What would our new church be like, or the people, or my new school? My mind knew with certainty that it would never measure up to this little class or this small town all my childhood friends continued to call home. How could it?

As I sank lower in my folding chair in Sunday School that August morning, I started feeling sorry for myself. My thoughts were fueled by doubt and fear. Once the assembly began, the pianist commenced playing a familiar tune. The teachers and students suddenly rose to sing my old favorite Easter hymn, “Up from the Grave He Arose!” It was their way of bidding me farewell and filling me with love for my journey.

We all experience those times when we can’t see beyond a day. Uncertainty and doubt drop us low and strike a mighty blow. When my world seemed doomed in the summer of 1962, the darkness turned to light quickly.

My new hometown, LaGrange, Georgia, with its welcoming church, great new friends, and incredible classmates, hugged my soul and accompanied me to adulthood and beyond.

For years, every Easter morning in our new church, the congregation stood to sing, “Up from the Grave He Arose!” I sat with my parents on those spring Sundays, singing with wild abandon as my family playfully snickered, reminding me that I still couldn’t sing.   However, I knew God didn’t care.

When I hear the hymn’s glorious refrain, I recall the friends who waved goodbye on a Tennessee Sunday morning. I did not see any of those classmates again, but they remain a part of who I am today.

Life changes and folks move away. Years bring joy and sadness, births and deaths, highs and lows. The years fly by, and as we age, we recognize those moments when we sank low into an old folding chair.

Our despair and struggles mount, making us unsure of tomorrow on many occasions. However, if we listen within our soul, we can hear the touch of a hand on a keyboard, and a melody introduces a recognizable hymn, “Up from the Grave He Arose!”

It is Easter, and as Christians who celebrate this beautiful day, we understand that if Jesus can rise from the dead, we can muster the strength to rise out of the folding chair of gloom. Easter is our hope for tomorrow, no matter what tomorrow brings. Even as we meet death, we face eternal life because Christ did.

Every difficulty I have encountered and unexpected occurrence that swept me off my feet, I summoned the old song that reminds me I can rise again because Jesus did. I can endure pain because He did.  Every enemy I have fought, even when it was from within, I braved the battle because He did.

Easter isn’t just a celebration of a day; it is a celebration of each day we live. For the believer of Christ’s story, His life, death, and living spirit are like finding the priceless and eternal golden egg of hope.

“Low in the grave, He lay,
Jesus, my Savior,
Waiting the coming day,
Jesus, my Lord!
Up from the grave, He arose!
With a mighty triumph o’er His foes,
He arose the victor from the dark domain,
And He lives forever, with His saints to reign,
He arose! He arose!
Hallelujah! Christ arose!”

May your heart be filled with this triumphant song and His love as you celebrate the absolute joy of knowing Jesus rose from His grave to walk with you.

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