Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter to All   from David & Kathryn Gunderson

As I think back over all of the Easters in my life, I think the last Easter I celebrated in Japan during my mission was one of the most memorable. In Japanese, Easter is called the Fukkatsu Sai.  In English, that translates to the Celebration of the Resurrection, a much more fitting name than Easter, the name of an ancient European pagan fertility festival.
On that last Easter in Japan, I was assigned to be the President of a small branch of the LDS Church in the beautiful city of Kofu, at the foot of Mt. Fuji

My companion and I decided to invite several of the members[1], who had been especially helpful to us, to an Easter dinner.  Since we were living on tight budgets, the choice of food was important. Beef, chicken, pork and turkey were simply out of the question. However, the local butcher suggested that we might consider horsemeat, or perhaps as a last resort, lamb.
To us, lamb seemed to be the first and best choice, but our Japanese friends were not so sure.  They all said that Lamb was “Kusai”. (In English: smelly or bad tasting.) My companion and I immediately mounted a campaign to try to convince them to change their minds about lamb. We asked them if they had ever tasted lamb and they all admitted that they had not, We pointed out that Jesus had probably eaten lamb as much or more than any other meat and since Jesus himself was the Pascal Lamb on that last Passover before the beginning of the Christian Era, didn’t they think they should at least try it. Well that did it. They all agreed that since it was “Fukkastsu Sai”, they would give lamb a try.
Easter morning dawned bright and beautiful that year. In church services, we sang our favorite Easter hymns, the talks all centered on Jesus’ sacrifice and the blessing of everlasting life that Christians believe His sacrifice guarantee to us all.  We were all happy and felt greatly uplifted by the spirit of the day.
That afternoon, our small group gathered for the planned Easter dinner. It consisted of roast lamb (we roasted it in our stovetop oven and I thought it turned out great), potatoes, rice, lamb gravy, vegetables, fruit, and a Japanese cake (Kasutera cake, a sort of sponge cake). All seemed to go well. As the members were departing for their homes, I made the mistake of asking one of the older Sisters how she had liked the lamb. She turned to me and, with uncharacteristic frankness, said “well it was alright I guess, but I still think it was “kusai””.

I remember other great Easters in my life. Easters in Moab, Utah with my cousins and the Easter egg hunts in the red rocks and sand of Arches National Monument. I still wonder what happened to the eggs we could never seem to find.

I also remember Easters in New Jersey with my good friends the Hohmanns. I specially remember the giant chocolate Easter bunnies I always gave to my godson Matt and “Omah’s” wonderful red cabbage. It was always so delicious. After dinner, we often went to New York City to attend the memorable Easter Vesper services at River Side Church. They often performed the great composition “On the way to Emmaus” which recounts Jesus appearance to two disciples who were returning to their homes in the small village of Emmaus, just after the crucifixion (Luke 24:13).   .

I also remember the early morning Easter services Roger Stolen (a Lutheran) and I attended at  Trinity Episcopal Church in Asbury Park New Jersey (neutral ground to both Roger and I)  to hear our mutual friend Kent Olson (a Mormon) accompany the Trinity Church choir for their Easter Services.
Above all, Easter is the time Christians reaffirm their belief in the sacrifice that Jesus made to make it possible for all of us to go “back home”.  We hope that each of you will feel the hope, joy and renewal of life that is celebrated in this great and happy festival.

A Victorian Easter Card


[1] The families of most of our members did not share their Christian faith, so church meetings & activities had to serve many of the needs that are normally served by our families, especially for Christmas and Easter.

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