by Rev. Dr. Dale Azevedo, Sr. Minister
Alleluia, Christ is Risen!
It was a morning like many others, and everything was going wrong. I arrived at church 30 minutes early so I could print out the bulletins and set up the sound system before people arrived. I had mistakenly decided NOT to come in on Saturday to print the bulletins knowing they would “only take me a couple minutes, anyway.” Of course, when I turned on my computer that morning Windows needed to finish rebooting due to an update. Fortunately, it was only one of those 15-minute updates and not one of the hour-and-half ones. As the update painstakingly moved its progress bar from 49% to 50% to 51%, I finally got up and realized I couldn’t find the bulletin paper I wanted. Where was the canary yellow? After a few minutes of frustration, I settled on a funny shade of orange that would have to suffice as a “bright spring color.”
Finally, after 15 minutes of rebooting I entered Word only to find that my files hadn’t synced because the computer needed a reboot. Since I hadn’t been in the office in while (thanks COVID) things were taking a lot longer than the “couple of minutes” I had counted on. My files eventually synced and I could access the bulletin and start it printing. Happily, Linda showed up just in time to start collating the bulletins from the copier. (Thanks Linda!) I then turned my attention to sound system awaiting me outside. While I was grumbling at Windows and the missing canary paper a beautiful elf had come and moved all the electrical equipment to the playground. (Thanks Elizabeth!). However, it was then that I realized the batteries in the microphones were dead due to lack of use (Thanks again, COVID!).
By this time people were showing up and were greeting one another with physically distanced “Good morning”s and “Happy Easter”s. The sun had not yet peeked over the horizon, but the dawn was brightening with morning light and could see. I went about hooking up the equipment and pondering what to do about the mics. Thankfully, one of them had just enough juice that I thought it might allow us to limp through the service. By this time, everyone was there and being relatively patient. (Thanks everyone!) And we were only 2-3 minutes past our anticipated start time. That’s when Linda took the microphone and called out, “Rejoice people of God! Christ, our Lord, is risen!”
It was Easter Sunrise Service, our first in-person worship service in over a year!
When Linda concluded the Call to Worship the acapella voices of The Martins began the opening Alleluias of their rendition of Christ, the Lord, Is Risen Today, and our service was underway. As the Martins sang out, those present joined in singing. Although it was against our worship code (thanks for the third time COVID), we didn’t shush them. They were quiet, masked, and (more or less) six feet apart. It is hard not to sing of Christ’s resurrection after all we have been through this past year.
We had 45 people gather behind the education building overlooking the beautiful Barrington River. We prayed. We sang. We listened to music. We heard scripture. And just as Linda was halfway through her message sun crept up over the trees above Hampden Meadows.
The familiar refrain of Morning Has Broken, again acapella, this time by the recording artist, Jody, drew our service toward its conclusion. And with the sharing of the benediction, all those present were invited to select a carnation and bring it down to the river. Each carnation represented a prayer, either a prayer uttered over the past year or a prayer for the coming spring, and they were laid in water to carry our thoughts downstream. A few stragglers stuck around to clean up (Thanks Seder’s!) and others waved talked and reconnected as they returned to the parking lot. It was a lovely morning and beautiful gathering of our community.
Perhaps not everything had gone wrong.
Christ is risen indeed, Alleluia!
* This was on outdoor service. As we discuss and prepare for a return to in-person worship in the sanctuary (and we ARE preparing for it) we hope to hold more of these simple outdoor services when time and the weather permits. Keep your eyes peeled. We hope to see you there.