Bob Mitchell: Easters of this area's past

Wednesday, March 23, 2016
Bob Mitchell Ozark Views & Comments

Special religious holidays are arriving this month, including Good Friday and Easter Sunday. First United Methodist Church will hold a service Friday night.

Years ago, there were numerous Easter sunrise services throughout the area. Apparently, that became more of a task than many groups wanted to tackle.

The elimination of sunrise services would have been quite acceptable back in the elementary school days of several of the more senior generations still around these days.

Schoolhouse hill

Cassville schools, atop the West Seventh Street hill, was a prime location for the Easter sunrise service many years ago.

A favorite of the observance was the human cross that was built just off the crest of the hill for the audience further down the street. I don't remember whether seats were provided for observers, but they probably were.

The Living Cross meant that each kid had to be wearing a white sheet over their clothing, and if possible, it had to be worn similar to a poncho, or at least so it didn't drag the ground. The arranging of the cross wasn't difficult for the kids. All they had to do was remember who was standing on either side of them and the formation continued on and on.

I never did get to see this formation from the downhill location, but it must have been something to see, especially since it was formed before the sun came up. As Old Sol came over the hills to the east, the white-clad youngsters must have really shined against the paved street. Yes, that street was paved in those days.

After the school's sunrise service, there was normally a gathering of folks for donuts and coffee or milk at the Old Community Building on the west side of the public square, which later became Hall Theater. There was a gymnasium and amphitheater seats in the facility that served as a gathering place for just about any activity that might come along this time of the year.

Viney Creek services

Enjoyed in later years were Easter sunrise services at Viney Creek public use area on Table Rock Lake. On the south side of the reservoir, this program was presented by Golden Baptist Church. The unfortunate part of this service was the rains that came a number of years and caused the service to be moved to the home church.

Another beautiful sunrise service comes through the churches of the Shell Knob community, which are held north of the area off Highway 39 at the hilltop Scenic Overlook.

I can't miss the opportunity to call this site the Cassville Democrat Overlook, so dubbed by Wilber Stegner, district highway engineer, at the dedication of the new highway. He told the assembled crowd this was his choice for a name, due to the assistance the newspaper gave the department with a right-of-way problem.

It was somewhat comical, since Republican Congressman Durward Hall was the speaker for the event. He never mentioned any of the highway engineer's remarks.

Easter reminders

In many churches that feature stained glass windows, there is included a scene of Christ and the tomb in which he was placed after being crucified on the cross. This is an every-service reminder of the sacrifice Jesus made for mankind.

Sunday's observance of this event can closely resemble Christmas to all those who believe. Without the sacrifice on the cross, where would our world be today?

Those stained glass windows, and other constant reminders of what Jesus gave to civilization on that day he died and lay in the tomb, have become our observance of Easter Sunday.

This can easily become a truly obvious event for today's Christians to rejoice in and thank the Lord for the opportunities that have evolved out of the sacrifice for today's generations.

We're all better for the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on that barren hill, relegated to fulfill his fate with two known criminals. That act alone was intended to drop him to the lowest level in the eyes of all but his followers of that era.

Today, we're given the opportunity to renew a faith in respective religions or beliefs. The fact is Jesus arose from that tomb, reappeared before some of his family and followers, which is sufficient reason for us to make it our purpose to remember him and follow his teachings in our lives and careers.

Bob Mitchell is the former editor and publisher of the Cassville Democrat.