Sunrise Service Starter Ideas

by Alane Michaelson

Sunrise Services are Christian events where congregants watch the sunrise together on Easter morning to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. Sunrise Services have been held for centuries in venues across the world. In temperate climates, congregants can hold Sunrise Services outdoors. These services traditionally end before the rest of the Easter services in the church, which are held later in the morning.

Before Easter

If you are leading a Sunrise Service, prepare in the weeks up to the service by finding a quiet spot to watch the sunrise on Easter morning. If your area is cold that time of year, hold the service inside your church, preferably in a secluded room with many windows. Find celebratory songs to sing about Easter and discuss the events leading up to Easter with your congregants who will participate in the service. Also, determine the time the sun is expected to rise in your area.

Read from the Bible

As the service starts, read from the Bible about the women who visited Jesus' tomb, including Mary Magdalene, Mary mother of Jesus and Joanna. Do this before the sun comes up. This is one way to start a conversation about the resurrection and its impact on people who were alive then. Discuss with participants what those women experienced and how you would feel in their shoes. If you have time, ask participants to share their feelings about the story.

Read Essays

Another way to get the Sunrise Service started is to ask participants to write essays or poems about the resurrection. One idea is to assign participants different Biblical figures and have them research and write about what Easter was like for those people. You can also ask participants to write the essays or poems in a first-person perspective, to obtain a more personal feeling. Encourage participants to read their essays and poems as a way to start the service that morning.

Sing or Play Music

Singing or playing praise music is another great way to start the service. Select songs that focus on Easter, and sing them to get the service started. When you see the first hint of the sun over the horizon, begin singing a victorious song or play one. Encourage participants to sing along with you. Spend this time feeling the strength of your faith and focusing on Jesus' message. Cheer your participants along and encourage them through the song, especially if your congregants are younger. Strive to create a powerful and emotional moment of celebration during the service.

Sharing

Thank God after the sun rises for the resurrection and for other blessings in your lives. Share your feelings about this experience and encourage other participants to talk about their feelings. This portion of the service can be a formal sermon or an informal sharing of feelings. Tailor your talk to your congregants and the message you want them to take away from the morning. Complete the service by sharing breakfast before leaving for the traditional Easter service.

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