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Austin Bond Photography; photo illustration by Kathleen Barry, United Methodist Communications

WAYS: Celebrating Easter

March-April 2017

Interpreter recently asked its readers, “What is the most meaningful or most moving part of your Holy Week observance or Easter celebration? Why?” Sunrise services top the list for Easter Day. How will you celebrate this Easter season?

Sunrise service on the grounds overlooking our cemetery with Communion, shared with our other charge church, Hillcrest UMC, and open to the public. Then we feed everyone breakfast. It is a tradition we have been following for years. James C. Barlow Jr., Hendron’s Chapel UMC, Knoxville, Tennessee

For me, Easter is a season of passionate remembrance that becomes full when we accept Easter Communion, a symbol of our eternal life. It is about God’s personal mercy experienced through a deep mystery. It is about the emergence of true joy from profound sadness and full forgiveness for what brings deepest guilt. It is about God’s immense power breaking through walls of darkness, ignorance and death promising a new creation based on love! Tony DeMarco, First UMC, Erie, Pennsylvania

The Great Vigil of Easter: We light the Paschal candle from the new fire and process into the church in the light of Christ. Hearing again the biblical drama, we then move to the font for the birthing of new Christians. Together we go to the Lord's Table, offering our gifts and ourselves and receive the risen Christ. Light shines. The darkness is dispersed. The Rev. Daniel L. Garrett, Duncan Memorial UMC, Berryville, Virginia.

My most moving experience is Easter Sunrise services. Our church gathers with other community churches for special services, Sunrise services being one of those. I am able to concentrate more clearly on the probable early Easter morning activities as recounted by the Gospels some 2,000 years ago. I ponder the possible thoughts of the women at the tomb, then wonder what Peter and John were thinking as they later arrived at the tomb. Larry Greenwood, Coffeen (Illinois) UMC

The most meaningful thing about Easter week for me is the affirmation that "He is risen". It is a joy to serve a risen Savior and be reminded at Easter time of that through worship at church. Rob Grotts, First UMC, Pana, Illinois

“Up from the grave He arose, with a mighty triumph o'er His foes..." He is so much more than just a great teacher. He IS the Trinity – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. And, now, he dwells within me. The cross, the Resurrection did it ALL. Naomi Lackey, Faubion UMC, Gladstone, Missouri

The most meaningful and moving event during our Holy Week observance is our Sunrise Service on Easter morning. The event begins just as the sun beams light over the horizon. Many of our church members and our neighbors from the community gather at the top of the hill in the cemetery just behind our church. We stand under the cross made from timbers from our original church structure built 140 years ago. We hear the story from the Bible of the first Easter morning and sing the hymn "He Lives" as the sun rises across the valley. We close with prayer and walk down the hill to our Fellowship Hall where we join together for breakfast cooked by our men and served by our youth. Sharing this experience each year is the highlight of the Easter season for me. Jan LeMaster, Pinson (Alabama) UMC

The thing I enjoy most about Easter is waking on Easter morning after a Maundy Thursday service, after a Good Friday lunch and awakening to be reminded that as I go to the Sunrise Service that I am like Mary as she approached the tomb. And I go expecting. (The Rev.) Joel Miller, Pleasant Hill UMC, Summerville, Georgia

My most memorable time is our United Methodist Men cook free breakfast each Easter Sunday and our church celebrates the day with a Sunrise Service worshipping the Resurrection of Christ in song and word. We have 75-100 gathered in yard watching the sun come up and worshipping the son who died for us. James Larry Price, Christ UMC, Albany, Georgia

My favorite part of the Easter celebration is singing the wonderful old songs that were written about Christ's resurrection. My favorites include "He Lives," "Christ the Lord Is Risen Today," Robert Lowry's "Christ Arose" and Keith Green's "Easter Song." It is truly a blessing to be able to sing these songs joyfully and exuberantly to celebrate our Lord's victory over death and the grave! Thanks be to God for the Resurrection! Pansy Rumley, Wrightsboro UMC, Wilmington, North Carolina

We always host a community Sunrise Service at our community park. We arrive before daybreak. There is an open pavilion right on the edge of the pond. We all gather at the tables inside the pavilion and sing favorite Easter morning hymns, beginning with “Morning Has Broken.” The sunlight is beginning to show over the water’s edge, through the thick trees and the birds and ducks are beginning to sing. The message from the pastor is always very moving and with the breeze blowing through the trees and the always beautiful sunrise, it takes us back to the morning Jesus rose from the grave. It begins in the darkness, the light seems to have disappeared from our lives. But, then in beauty and splendor, the Son breaks forth and lights the way for us to all see the glory and victory of this beautiful morning. He has risen, He has risen Indeed! Laurie Sanders, First UMC, Kennedale, Texas

The most meaningful part of my Holy Week celebration is the Easter Service celebrating the resurrection of our Lord Jesus from the dead, because it is this conquering of death by our risen savior that allows us to have hope of eternal life with Him and maintain the hope for His return. 1 Cor. 15:12-19. Scott Stine, First UMC, Carrollton, Ohio

As the sun comes over the hill on Easter morning, we gather at the Cornelius Methodist Cemetery. All ages in coats, hats and gloves. The Rev. Margot R. Thompson, Banks & Cornelius UMCs, West Washington County, Oregon

The most meaningful part of the Easter celebration is being able to spend time reminding children and adults that Easter is not about the eggs, it is about the Risen Christ! I love reminding/telling all how important it is to know about the way Christ was treated before he died. I love reminding/telling all how important it is that Christ has risen. I remind the children that Christ has made it quite clear to all adults to not block their path to him. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matthew 19:14) Let us all, children and adults, focus on the Risen Christ and not the hard boiled egg. Tammy Walton, Wellspring UMC, Georgetown, Texas

Jesus rises and walks among us. We do not have to touch his garment, but touch him with our spirit, and ask him to come and live in us. We are the Easter people. Patty Winger, First UMC, Hutchinson, Kansas