FROM THE VAULT: The Meaning of Easter

Compiled from a newsletter written by Scott Brinson 

Opening written by CBM Intern Jaelynn Woullard


Looking through different files about CBM history, I stumbled upon this story from one of the newsletters by Scott Brinson, the director of CBM of the Great Southwest. As I read about a woman who loved the Lord and wanted to share with others what Easter is all about, it reminded me that God calls us to tell others about Him and what He has done for us. We always remember the true meaning of Easter, as Christians, but I think we often forget that there are other people that celebrate Easter, not knowing what the true meaning of it is. This story shows that just hearing the story can completely change someone’s life, but we have to be willing and have the courage to share it with those that don’t know or understand the true meaning of Easter. 


Edith Burns was a dear Christian woman who lived in San Antonio, Texas. She was the patient of a doctor by the name of Will Phillips, a kind and gentle man who saw patients as people. His favorite patient was Edith Burns. One morning, Dr. Will arrived at his office with a heavy heart. As he walked into the waiting room, he saw Edith with her big black Bible in her lap talking earnestly with a young mother sitting beside her.


Edith had a habit of introducing herself in this way: “Hello, my name is Edith Burns. Do you believe in Easter?” She would then explain the real meaning of Easter, and many people were saved as a result. As Dr. Phillips walked into his office, he greeted his head nurse, Beverly. Beverly had first met Edith when she was taking her blood pressure. Edith introduced herself by saying, “My name is Edith Burns. Do you believe in Easter?” “Why, yes, I do,” Beverly replied. “It’s all about egg hunts, going to church, and dressing up.” Edith continued to question Beverly about the real meaning of Easter and ultimately led her to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

“Beverly, don’t call Edith into the office just yet,” Dr. Phillips said. “I believe there is another delivery taking place in the waiting room.” When it was time for the doctor to see her, Edith noticed his expression. “Dr. Will, why are you so sad? Are you reading your Bible? Are you praying?” Dr. Phillips said gently, “Edith, I’m the doctor, and you’re the patient.” With a heavy heart, he told her that her last lab report was not good. Edith had inoperable cancer and was not expected to live much longer. Edith replied, “Why Will Phillips, shame on you. Why are you so sad? Do you think God makes mistakes? You have just told me I’m going to see my precious Lord Jesus, my husband, and my friends. You have just told me that I am going to celebrate Easter forever, and here you are having difficulty giving me my ticket!” Dr. Phillips couldn’t help thinking to himself, “What a magnificent woman this Edith Burns is!”


A few weeks later Edith failed to show up for her regular appointment. Later that afternoon, she called Dr. Phillips and said she would have to be moving to the hospital. “Will, I’m very near home, so would you make sure that they put women next to me in my room who need to know about Easter?” Over the next several days Edith shared her room with women who had the joy and privilege of meeting the Great Physician as a result of her witness. Everyone on the floor, from the staff members to patients, were so excited about Edith they started calling her “Edith Easter.” Everyone, that is, except Phyllis Cross, the head nurse. Phyllis made it clear that she wanted nothing to do with Edith, whom she considered a “religious nut.” Having worked as a nurse in an army hospital, Phyllis had seen it all and heard it all. She was the original G.I. Jane–hard, cold, and strictly “by the book.”


One morning the nurse who was assigned to Edith called in sick. Edith had the flu and Phyllis Cross was the nurse on duty. When she walked into her room, Edith had a big smile on her face. “Phyllis, God loves you and I love you and I’ve been praying for you.” In her cold, matter-of-fact manner Phyllis replied, “Well, you can quit praying for me because it won’t work. I’m not interested.” “Oh but I have to keep praying.” Edith said. “You see, I’ve asked God not to let me go home until you come into the family.” “Then you will never die, because that will never happen,” Phyllis answered and curtly walked out of the room. 


Every day nurse Phyllis would walk into the room and Edith would say, “God loves you Phyllis and I love you and I’m praying for you.” One day Phyllis felt herself drawn to Edith’s room like iron to a magnet. “Oh Phyllis, I’m so glad to see you,” Edith smiled. “God told me that today is your special day.” “Edith,” Phyllis said softly, “You’ve asked everyone here the question, ‘Do you believe in Easter?’ but you’ve never asked me. Why not?” With tender affection Edith said, “I’ve wanted to many times, Phyllis, but God told me to wait until you asked. And now that you have asked…” Edith took her Bible and proceeded to share with Phyllis the wonderful Easter story of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection. When she finished she said, “Phyllis, do you believe in Easter? Do you believe that Jesus Christ is alive and that He wants you to trust Him as your personal Savior?” With tears in her eyes Phyllis said, “Oh I want to believe that with all of my heart, and I do want Jesus in my life.” Right there, at Edith’s bedside, Phyllis Cross prayed to receive Jesus Christ. For the first time in her life the tough army nurse did not walk out of the hospital room; she was carried out on the wings of angels. Two days later, Phyllis came to see Edith. “Do you know what day it is?” Edith asked her. Phyllis answered, “Why, Edith, it’s Good Friday.” Edith said, “Oh, no. For you, every day is Easter. Happy Easter Phyllis!”


Two days later, on Easter Sunday, Phyllis came to work, tended to some of her duties, and then went down to the flower shop to buy some Easter lilies for Edith. When she went into Edith’s room, she saw her beloved friend and sister in the Lord lying in bed with her big black Bible on her lap and a peaceful smile on her face. She realized that Edith was celebrating Easter in the presence of her dear Savior. Walking over to her bedside, she saw Edith’s left hand resting on John 14:2-3, “In my Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” Her right hand was on Revelation 21:4, “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes, there shall be no more death nor sorrow, nor crying; and there shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” With tears streaming down her cheek, Phyllis lifted her face toward heaven and said, Happy Easter, Edith–Happy Easter!”


A few minutes later Phyllis left the room and walked over to a table where two student nurses were sitting. “Hi, my name’s Phyllis,” she said, her face radiant with joy. “Do you believe in Easter?”


The world could use a few more people like “Edith Easter” whose light and love for the Lord reveal a passion for Christ that’s compelling… and contagious. I’m praying that God will use me to share the real meaning of Easter with at least one person this week. How about you?


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