And so at 6:30 on a beautiful, clear, not yet morning, I climbed up the Tower Hill with the people of Prospect Park UMC to wait for the both risen Son and the rising Sun. As we stood in the cool pre-dawn air, a group of parishioners wound their way up the trail to where we were gathered by the tower singing as they went "Were You There When They Crucified My Lord?". Once they had joined us we read the story of the women finding the empty tomb, the very same story I had heard less than 12 hours previously. Then the pastor offered a brief sermon about tombs, butterflies, and cocoons, and we stood in silent anticipation for the Sun to rise. Once the Sun had risen, we sang "Christ the Lord Is Risen Today," which is a cliche, yet wonderful, Easter morning hymn full of Alleluias, which are always welcome on Easter morning.
It was a short and beautiful service. Yet given the fact that I returned home and slept for another six hours sort of defeated the "break of day" nature of the service. Oh well, I'm no morning person. While at the service the thought occurred to me when exactly on Easter the resurrection is supposed to have occurred. Daybreak? Midnight? Sunset the day before? Does it really matter?
Growing up there was a debate in my family as to whether or not you still had to keep your Lenten sacrifices between leaving Easter Vigil Mass (which usually ends shortly before Easter Sunday) and waking up the next day, or if you could begin eating your Easter candy as soon as you got home. I guess one way to resolve this would be to do things the Orthodox way and hold Easter Vigil liturgy from late Saturday night to early Sunday Morning. There's a hint about my next post.