Since his death last year, some members of C.T. Vivian’s family have been sorting through the hundreds of handwritten sermons and notes the civil rights giant left behind to the world.

“I’ve spent months going through his speeches and notes,” said Denise Morse, one of C.T. and Octavia Vivian’s six children. “Daddy made notes everywhere and on any piece of paper that was handy, even napkins.” Another daughter, Charisse Thornton and Asia Smith, a great granddaughter of Vivian’s, have been poring through the material as well.

Five of those handwritten notes include a sermon that Vivian delivered, at some point in the past, on the meaning of Easter. Titled “Lifted by Easter,” it is unknown when and where Vivian may have delivered the sermon. But while those details may be lost to posterity, Vivian’s message of hope, love and forgiveness is perhaps more relevant this Christian holiday than ever.

Credit: AJC

“I knew he was one of the greatest speakers I’ve ever heard,” Morse said. “But it wasn’t before I began going through his notes that I realized how brilliant he actually was. He was taking the Bible and the Scripture and making it real to the here and now, where we are today. That’s exactly what he’s doing right now in this Easter message.

“He wanted everyone to live decently, all human beings living on Earth together with kindness and happiness. He wanted all humans to be happy.”

ExploreAtlanta women’s Bible ministry weighs Easter lessons from COVID pandemic

One of Martin Luther King Jr.’s most valuable lieutenants, Vivian was known for his intellect and philosophical reasoning, as well as his wit and humor.

Credit: AJC

Cordy Tindell Vivian was born July 30, 1924, in Boonville, Missouri. Raised by his mother and grandmother, Vivian told the National Visionary Leadership Project those women had a vision for his life.

Credit: AJC

“When I read his sermons, Daddy is saying there is no need for hate,” Morse said. “It’s so sad that humans just can’t figure it out. He understood the Scripture and how it affects us daily.”

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Through the work of Morse and publicist Amanda Brown-Olmstead, here is a rough transcription of Vivian’s Easter sermon notes:

“Luke 24:1-12

“Lifted By Easter

“The scene in that room before Mary came from the tomb. They were a huddle of dispirited and frightened men. But they were lifted and became vibrant and daring — disciplined disciples. Easter lifted these men.

“There comes a time when we all need to be lifted. The Pastor of RIAL shouts Lift your Life (believed to be the pastor of the church where Vivian was speaking) There is a need in each of us to lift ours.

“Easter Lifts us by showing us how important life is. Life is tremendously important. Life is not to be taken lightly. ... Life is not an end in itself. No place for letting up

“You can lay down your life for great things. Martin Luther King — if dead, would know Resurrection.

“Easter Lifts us by showing us that Easter is Love. We need love. It shows that God loves us. It shows what Love is like. not cheap but suffering a self sacrifice redemption. how to love our neighborhood to do good regardless. to show compassion

“How to Love God. Obey Him regardless. Easter lifts us by telling us Truth is indestructible. That all genuine things will live. Love lives. Kindness lives. The good people last in our lives + memory. We can live above.

“Easter lifts us by assuring us that Jesus was the Son of God. No worry now. Everything he said depends on the Resurrection. Obligation. I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. The Empty Tomb. Not rubble, but cold empty stone

“Easter lifts us by taking us from Death into Life. Ex. 11. Sitting in a boat while the sun draws the water to make rain. The process of life. A. Spring B. Flowers — a good bulb. From life to death to life again. You can face frailties, limitations. frustration, the sorrows, losses, the tragic blows of life. As a process of growth toward great life. C. As maturing for a great role in a greater life. D. As the test trial to be fit to spring into _ of life newness of life.

“For me too, in the flesh even, and the son + daughter of God, it does not yet appear what we shall be. But we shall be like Him, if we have lived like Him.

“Your life is a camera - set your gauge on a few feet — or an eternity. The picture is clearer, better. The distant hills become yours. You are lifted out of hills. You are lifted above the trials in life. You are lifted by knowing your life is reciprocated in the best plan of God. You are lifted by being assured of love, suffering + sacrifice for others it is.

“God did it for you. ...This is a Holy Power that holds your hand.”

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