Sunday, March 23, 2008

Real Easter Sunrise Services

In the tropics, the sun comes up around six o’clock every morning. On Easter mornings, our whole family, and most of the other families at our mission center, would rise and dress in everyday clothes. Then we would mount our motorcycles (the only means of personal transportation we had) and set out on the gravel roads, up and down small hills, a mile or so across the center. The highest hill was our destination.

From the top of the hill we could see the lake—a long lake with palm trees all around. The hill was at one end of the lake, and the sun came up at the other end. There we spread blankets and sat on them while we sang, prayed, and listened to a brief meditation on the Resurrection. While we were doing that, the sun would slip into view at the other end of the lake. One year, with the help of a narrow crosswind, the sun was reflected in a huge golden cross the length of the lake.

Now that is an Easter sunrise service.

Where I am this morning, it is 36 degrees outside and dark. I probably won’t feel like it’s Easter until I get to church, but that’s okay. The evidence and assurance of the Resurrection are still true and still a lynchpin of my life.

One of the last years we were there, we didn’t get to have our sunrise service on the hill. Subversives had kidnapped one of our coworkers in January and executed him a few weeks before Easter. Our center was under guard by the country’s military, and they deemed the hill too far out and insecure. So we met close in with soldiers around and a machine gun in plain view. But it was still Easter, and no amount of threat from the outside could shake the faith in our hearts.


Rick said...

Thanks for the descriptive memory of those LML sunrise services!! I do remember them!!

Brian said...

After you left and we arrived, the tradition continued, but I remember three or four locations: in front of Miller's, with the view over the high school; the hill top I think you remember, overlooking the cemetary (which by then held not just Chet's remains, but Joni Roraff's, and Eladio's--the friendly young Epena), a wonderful place to ponder the resurrection; and once on the lake-front below Smothermon's. That was a morning my family will never let me forget. It was so far by land, and so close by water, that I had the bright idea to go by canoe. Well, I made one quick trip to take over our chairs, and hurried home to get the rest of the family . . . who were running late . . . and there we were, arriving just over Tom's shoulder after he had already started speaking, and my children forever humiliated. Now, of course, it's a favorite memory.