… but there is one morning of the year that sees me up and out before dawn. Easter Sunday.

I’m not sure when the tradition began but in recent years, Greystones Presbyterian Church (GPC) has invited Christians from all faith backgrounds to greet the dawn on the seafront on this special day. It won’t be so early this year as Easter is early, and the hour springs forward on 31st March, meaning that the sun will rise at the very respectable time of 7.08 a.m. People will begin to gather from 6.50 a.m.

There is something lovely about wandering along the seafront, greeting friends on the way, as people converge on the meeting point in front of St. David’s School. The small group huddles together, people muffled up in warm coats, hats, scarves and gloves. There is an air of expectancy – and hope. There is a collective memory of that first Easter morning when Mary Magdalene made her way to the tomb while it was still dark (John 20). For Mary, that early morning was distressing initially as she thought the body of Jesus had been taken. When she saw the stone had been moved, adrenaline rushed through her, and she ran back to tell the other disciples. Then there was that beautiful moment when Jesus was there with her, but she didn’t recognize him in her grief until he called her name.

As we gather, we have the benefit of knowing the story – knowing that Jesus had risen and is still alive today. We can rejoice in knowing we can have the same intimacy with Jesus enjoyed by Mary. He knows our name. He calls it gently. We recognize his voice and turn to Him. He loves us unconditionally. We are His people. All these thoughts come to mind as we look out at the horizon and wait for the sun to appear. Whether or not the appearance of the sun is spectacularly colourful, or hidden by cloud and mist, we join our voices in song and praise our God. Even as I write, I find myself humming that beautiful hymn by Keith Getty and Stuart Townsend,

Oh, to see the dawn
of the darkest day:
Christ on the road to Calvary.
Tried by sinful men,
torn and beaten, then
nailed to a cross of wood.
This, the power of the cross:
Christ became sin for us.
Took the blame, bore the wrath –
we stand forgiven at the cross.

It is all over quickly. The sun comes up, the singing, readings and prayers draw to a close, people turn to each other and there is a friendly hum of chat. Gradually, people make their way back to the hall at GPC for a tasty breakfast of orange juice, sausages, rolls, and welcome cups of hot tea. Last year, Hillside Evangelical Church kindly provided the breakfast as our hall was being rebuilt. This year, we will be inviting people back to our lovely new facilities at GPC.

So, how about it? Will you join us for a Dawn Service on the seafront outside St. David’s at 6.50 on 31st March? All are welcome.

Joyce Lee
Greystones Presbyterian Church
Churches Together Ministry

See some photos from last years Easter Sunrise Service

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