Patsy Andrews had so much to hide: Specifically, 23 dozen Easter eggs plus countless jelly beans and chocolates for the annual hunt at Brooklyn United Methodist Church.
And then 40 kids arrived.
So much work, so quickly undone.
"It takes an hour and a half to hide them," Mrs. Andrews said with great satisfaction yesterday morning. "And in 10 minutes, they're gone."
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This morning, many of the children who filled their baskets with eggs will be back in church to hear the Rev. Richard W. Andrews lead Easter service at Brooklyn United Methodist, a brick church built after the Civil War in the peninsula community across the Hanover Street Bridge. His sermon will be, "Easter, Yet Again."
At last, after the most stubborn winter in years, it's spring in Baltimore. The weather has warmed (70 degrees by early afternoon) and promises to stay that way. Daffodils, blooming weeks later than usual, finally were nodding on front lawns. Baseball fans were prowling the Inner Harbor and sunning themselves at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
And in Brooklyn this morning, Mr. Andrews will be preaching to a congregation swelled to twice the usual Sunday attendance of about 125.
"We'll fill the sanctuary," he said.
It will be the same in churches across the country.
"A time of reflection, renewal and rededication," President Clinton said yesterday in his Easter message. "At the start of springtime, nature reminds us of new beginnings and forgotten beauty."
But all of America hasn't given itself over to religious reflection, at least not entirely. After delivering his Easter message, Mr. Clinton was off to Charlotte, N.C., to watch the semifinals of the NCAA basketball tournament.
And for radio listeners who don't take the holy day all that seriously, WHFS, the Annapolis FM station, was offering its listeners "a Resurrection Weekend, modern rock hits from the past." WIYY, Baltimore's 98 Rock, was playing music by "bands that died and came back to life."
Still, people who don't go to church on other Sundays will make a special visit today to sing joyful hymns and to celebrate ancient rituals. (Not all Christians will be celebrating. Eastern Orthodox churches will mark Easter on May 1.)
And in a time when churchgoers attend regular services in jeans or sweats, Easter remains a time for dressing up, for hats and for snapshots of the kids in their spring finery.
Kathy Williams will be at Brooklyn United Methodist wearing a spring dress, with her 3-year-old, Raymond Quinlan, in a dress shirt, bow tie and vest.
"I get dressed up for him," she said. She wants her son to understand today is special.
Donna Knight will have her sons, Frank, 4, and Raymond, 10, in new outfits. It's a family tradition.
Mr. Andrews, the pastor, said church attendance has been growing in recent years, after a generation of decline.
OC "As the baby boomers had children, there's been a return to the
church in general. But it's not like it was in the '50s and '60s," he said.
Two years ago, when his family came to the church, the Sunday school had only five children on its rolls. Today, there are 40 children in the classrooms on Sunday mornings. People want a connection with church, Mr. Andrews said. And they want their children to have a connection as well.
And so the parish began Easter egg hunts. Mr. Andrews and his bTC son Daniel spent Friday night dyeing the 23 dozen eggs that Mrs. Andrews hid and gave away yesterday.
"You know the significance of the eggs as symbol of eternal life," Mr. Andrews said. In Roman times, when Christians were outlaws, believers brought eggs to catacombs as a sign of faith in rebirth.
"A lot of people think Easter egg hunts are not really religious," he said, "but they really do have more of a religious connection than a lot of other Easter traditions."
And after all the eggs were hunted down yesterday and the children were surveying their booty, Mrs. Andrews thanked them all for coming and promised, "We'll have more next year."