Sunrise Easter Picnic
One year the minister of our small church decided to do something different for the Easter service. For years the sunrise service had been modestly attended, but this year the minister thought more people might come if the service were held outdoors. I suggested the idea of having a breakfast picnic after the service. I knew a nearby park with a hill that had an unobstructed view of the sunrise. The church could provide coffee, tea, muffins, bagels and cream cheese. He thought my idea was great.
The fliers announcing the event were printed in black ink on several different shades of pastel colored paper. The minister and I handed them out after the Palm Sunday service.Below the graphic of a rising sun, silhouetted cross and lily were details of the time, place, to bring a picnic breakfast and a blanket to sit on. It also mentioned coffee, tea, muffins, bagels and cream cheese would be provided and there would be games for the kids.
An hour before sunrise two volunteers from the church, the minister and I went to the park to set up for the service. I had rented a white lattice archway. I set it up at the east side of the meadow and draped it with artificial ivy and lilies. The volunteers set up the table, covered it with white, linen and set out the four air pump coffee dispensers. They carefully labeled the ones that had coffee then put the boxes of tea, muffins, bagels and cream cheese on the table. They put out the wicker baskets of napkins, plates and plastic utensils last.
The harpist and gospel singer arrived as the sky was becoming lighter. The harpist set up to the right of the arch and started playing. Members of the congregation began arriving in ones and twos then a whole group arrived who had carpooled together in the church van. Many families had brought their children with them.
By the time they had finished spreading blankets on the grass and sitting down, the sun was just starting to rise and the minister started the service. The singer began the service with a gospel song and the harpist accompanied her. After the song the minister started the sermon. The service was beautiful and went perfectly.
After the service everyone got out their picnic breakfasts and had some coffee, or tea with muffins and bagels and cream cheese. People were eating and chatting; everyone was having a good time.
Once breakfast was finished, it was time for the games. Each child was given a hard- boiled egg and instructed to roll it over the grass only using his or her nose. The first one to cross the finish line would win a prize. Everyone had a great time watching the kids having fun. Next came the egg hunt. Church volunteers had made several dozen hard-boiled eggs and dyed them in every color. There were also plastic eggs filled with jelly- beans, chocolate candies or small toys inside for the children to find. Each child was given a brightly colored basket and told to first find an egg for themselves and then one for another child so no one would be left out of the fun. The minister, volunteers and I supervised the hunt to make sure the children didn't stray too far looking for eggs and help the younger children find some too.
Not only was there a great turn out, everyone had such a great time the minister decided we will have a sunrise sermon and picnic every Easter.