Sunrise service starts before the sunrise. I arrived at the country church under an almost full moon bright behind the light fog. Before the door of the church is even opened, the fragrance of lilies sneaks out. I shake all the ministers hands.
I think back forty years ago. My first sunrise service, I rode out to this very church with my pastor, who is also my neighbor and his family. A cold morning before the sun with snow on the ground. A winter coat covers the spring dress. Sandals again in snow, like a year before for my brother's wedding. We didn't know it then, but this was Reverend Hatch's last Easter. He would die in June.
I recognized many faces today or backs of heads. I think my parents didn't have gray hair then. Many people didn't have gray hair then. I'm pleased the church is filled. I loved singing the hymns to the organ from a hymnal. Even the other churches I have attended have the words projected onto a screen, but not this smaller church. I'm glad I remembered the words, as keeping my head down with my reading glasses on gave me a bit of a headache.
I drove to Haywood Cemetery at the end of my old street. I pass two people walking their dogs in the gray morning light. At the family graves, I look them over. I see the lighter grass over the coffins. I can almost see them rising from the ground at the rapture. I think, not too long. This is what makes our religion so different. We don't follow a man, but a Man who rose from the dead. If Jesus had not risen, our faith would be useless, we would be but a sad people.
Christ is risen. He is risen, indeed. We are Easter people.