Christ is Risen!
He is Risen indeed!
Happy Easter everyone. Today I woke up at 4:25 to go to a sunrise service at the Arlington Cemetery. I met up with my ride at 4:50 and we headed out. I tried my best to sleep on the hour plus drive towards D.C.
The sky was still pitch black when we arrived at 6:17. A short walk led us to the shuttles taking throngs of people to the Arlington Memorial Amphitheater.
Uniformed men handed out bulletins for the service. Our group sat down on the frozen marble seats and listened silently as the United States Army Band began to play. The music was beautiful against the stillness of the slowly lightening sky.
At 6:35 the service began. Everyone rose to read the Apostles Creed then joined in singing “Christ the Lord is Risen Today” with the band. The Chaplain walked to the pulpit, introduced the service, and led us all in The Lord’s Prayer.
The Band played another song and the Army Chorus sang with them. A young man sang the first verse as a solo. His voice was stunning.
There was another responsive reading and then they read a passage from Isaiah 65. In the middle of the passage a large grey dove landed at the peak of the Amphitheater stage roof. The sky was beginning to glow a soft pink despite the covering of clouds. Though cold, it was beautiful.
After a few more songs and scripture passages the US Army Deputy Chief of Chaplains gave a short sermon. Afterwards we joined in song to “Hallelujah! What a Savior.” There was a benediction and the band and chorus ended the service with the Hallelujah Chorus.
It was a beautiful service.
On the shuttle back to the parking area a friendly middle-aged woman sat in the empty seat beside me. She held a pot of yellow flowers that had been offered at the end of the service.
“Was this your first Sunrise service here?” she asked pleasantly.
“Yes. It is my first ever actually.”
“It’s my first one here.” She addressed the four of us that had gone together. “Do you go to college around here?”
“Yes, Patrick Henry College.”
“Oh, I’ve heard of that school. That is a Christian School right?
“Yes, it is.”
“Wasn’t there a big controversy there a couple of years back?”
Danielle, one of the people I had gone to the sunrise service with, spoke up, “Yes, it was mainly involving teaching methods and curriculum, but it isn’t really affecting us now, other than the stories you find when you Google it,” she said with a bit of a laugh.
“I really like it there. So are you from around the area?” I asked.
“I moved here when I was a teenager, but now I’m a missionary in Japan, I’m back in the states for this year.”
I admit I was very fascinated now. “What is it like?”
“I’m stationed in Tokyo helping out youth programs with the church. I like it, but it’s very spiritually dark there. It’s very westernized, but only 1% of the population claims Christianity as their religion. It has been so rejuvenating to be back in the states.”
“When do you head back to Japan?”
“Lord willing, in September.”
“That is really neat.”
By then the shuttle had arrived at its destination. Before we all got off the bus, she handed me the flowers.
“Here, it will brighten up your dorm room.”
I took the beautiful yellow flowers. “Thank you very much.”
She smiled and then we parted ways.
I think more than the sun-colored flowers will brighten my room, talking with her had brightened my day. They say don’t talk to strangers–I would like to politely disagree, at least in some cases. Happy Easter! Remember that Christ is indeed risen from the grave!