An Explanation of Our
Easter Sonrise Worship Service
Our Sonrise Service is an adaptation of the ancient Easter Vigil, in which the faithful would gather in churches in the very early morning hours, before the sunrise of Easter, to remember our Lord's three days in the tomb and to administer the Sacrament of Holy Communion to the catechumens, thus preparing them for the celebration of their first communion of Easter, and to hear the early morning proclamation that Jesus has risen from the dead!
Our service consists of three basic parts: The blessing of the paschal candle, lit from a newly kindled fire; the Easter Announcement; and the Renewal of Baptismal vows.
On Good Friday, in a ritual begun centuries ago, all lights were extinguished. A new fire would be kindled on the church steps before the dawning of Easter Day, and all lights in the church would be rekindled from this fire, by way of the carrying in of the Paschal Candle, representing the risen Christ.
The Paschal Candle symbolizes the pillar of fire that once guided God's faithful people from their bondage out of slavery to the Promised Land, and also it is a symbol of the Resurrected Lord who leads us out of death to life.
This Paschal Candle, lighted during this service to symbolize the presence of the glorified, Risen Christ among his disciples, will be lighted for worship service from now until Ascension Day, 40 days hence, when the Church celebrates the removal of Jesus' visible presence from earth. We light the candle after Ascension for baptisms, reminding us that we are buried with Christ in death, and we rise by the power of his Resurrection to new life.
The procession into the church is a reminder that like the journey of the Israelites from Egypt to the Promised Land, we are led by the Risen Lord in a journey from bondage to sin and death to a new life as a child of God.
As we enter the darkened church, we are reminded of the Good Friday fact that Jesus died and was laid in the tomb. As we hear the message of the Angel, the proclamation of the Resurrection, you will see the church transformed from the somber mood of Good Friday to the glory of Easter.