I love holidays. Christmas is a magical time of year. Halloween combines two of my favorite things–dressing up and candy. Thanksgiving warms my soul (and fills my belly!). But my favorite holiday? Easter. And my favorite part of Easter? The Sunrise Service.
It’s a disappointment to me when the service gets moved inside because of the weather (too cold, too wet, too snowy). But I’ll still be there, in the pre-dawn light, waiting to celebrate the moment when the truth became clear. Jesus was no longer dead.
That’s why I love Easter now–remembering Christ’s resurrection. But I think I learned to love Sunrise Services when I would go with my Dad as a child. I remember at least one Easter when it was just the two of us. I remember getting up in the dark and putting on my new Easter clothes–a dress, white stockings, and black, patent leather shoes. Oh, how they shone.
As Dad and I went out the door I remember seeing our Easter baskets waiting–brimming with bright candy and other goodies. But I knew going to church to see the sun rise was somehow more important. Candy and treats could wait.
That might have been the year we went to French Creek Presbyterian and stood on the crest of the hill looking down over the valley. There were houses down there–mostly on the ramshackle side–with old cars and peeling paint. Some chickens scrabbled in the dirt and a dog or two began to stir. It wasn’t exactly a bucolic scene.
But then the sun rose and we sang and proclaimed that He is risen! He is risen, indeed! And I was warm where I stood leaning up against my Daddy. Then we went home for breakfast and Easter baskets followed by church and Easter dinner with ham and deviled eggs.
And the world was good.
There’s plenty wrong with the world today. Some of it touches me personally, some of it doesn’t . . . yet. But somehow when the sun rises on March 31 this year, it will be like starting over. And those first rays of the sun will fall on a world that God is still shaping. And I’ll remember that what Christ gave us most of all is . . . hope.