“Easter seems early this year! As I write this at dawn on Monday morning of Holy Week, two inches of fresh snow has covered the ground at my house. My mind wonders, ‘Wait a minute where is spring? What about the Cherry Blossoms? I wonder what the temperature will be for the Sunrise Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial. If it snows on Monday before Easter will anyone be at an outdoor sunrise service on Sunday, just six days later?’” The questions that Pastor Amos Dodge asked himself were answered today. The answer was a resounding yes there will and there was. The Lincoln Memorial was packed. All the snow from Monday had melted away. The service was breathtakingly spectacular.
The annual Easter celebration, while sponsored by Capitol Church, is made possible by the gifts of caring friends who join the church to help underwrite the costs of sound, staging, chairs, advertising, and printing. This year’s budget exceeded $30,000. “Your gift will ensure the continuation of this celebration year after year. Please make checks payable to: Capital Church, Memo Sunrise Service. Thank you and God bless you,” Pastor Amos Dodge said. Write to Capital Church, Easter Sunrise Celebration, 10233 Leesburg Pike Vienna, Va 22182. The website is www.capitalchurch.net. Readers may telephone 703-737-1200 to get more information on the church.
To see so many people braving the cold to take part in the service was in and of itself an inspiration. People came as early as 4 a.m. to get a front row seat for the event that lasted until 8 a.m. today. Waking up on Monday morning to find two feet of snow on his front lawn may have alarmed the pastor on Monday; however, there was no alarm today. The 35th Capitol Church Sunrise service at the Lincoln Monument of the National Mall was flawless. The streets of D.C. were clear, quiet, and serene at 4 a.m. as the cars started to make their way from Maryland, D.C., and Virginia to attend the annual event.
The music from the Capitol Church choir filled the air as men, women, and children marched across the mall to the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. The steps were filled to capacity as worshipers of every denomination and every race joined together to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. As one cheerful worshiper said, “Being able to come out here with fellow Christians to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord is amazing.”
Though many have attended the celebration year after year since 1979, there were many who came for the first time today. When asked on a list of 1 to 10 how the Easter Sunrise service ranked on a list of things to do at 5 a.m. on Easter Sunday, the worshiper said “I would rate this 9, There is not much else to do at 5 a.m. on Easter Sunday morning.”
Even the cold weather could not dampen the spirits of the people who came to sing and pray. The service included a sermon by the pastor of the Capitol Church as he filled the assembled with hope that despite tough economic times the message of Jesus Christ of love and salvation had not changed. “Welcome to the 35th Easter Sunrise celebration. This is a resurrection celebration. This is Easter Morning and we are the Easter people,” the pastor said. “We are the people who believe that Jesus Christ was the sinless son of God, born of a Virgin Mary, who died on a cross on Friday but rose again on Sunday,” Dodge said.
“Today around the world at dawn in nation after nation hundreds of hundreds of hundreds of millions of people celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. But it started with one man and 12 disciples,” the pastor said. As he told the story of Jesus Christ over 2000 years ago he shared with the faithful.” Amos said. As people wrapped warm blankets around their bodies the pastor told the story of Jesus. “A man who people loved at was loved by people loved at one moment and was and despised at the next. A poor itinerant preacher, we celebrate the fact that Jesus Christ is our risen Lord,” Dodge said.
The fact that volunteers were up at 4 a.m. to prepare for the event and helped to direct traffic on Pennsylvania Avenue was all part of the amazing event today. The music was uplifting and inspirational after choir members tuned their instruments and their voices in the dark air of the hours before dawn. The Easter Sunrise service was the vehicle to celebrate Easter for thousands of worshipers today. If you missed the church service, there is no need to worry the Capitol Church Easter Sunrise Service will be back at the Lincoln Memorial for Easter 2014. Mark your calendar today.