Community Easter Sunrise Service in Borrego Springs
Last updated 4/28/2023 at 10:17am
There are many events that draw people from the community here – Borrego Days, the film festival, all sorts of concerts and plays produced at BSPAC, the numerous shows at the Borrego Art Institute, ABDNHA lectures, the Circle of Art, among others. But one that starts earlier than all the others is the annual Easter Sunrise Service held on the hill behind the Borrego Springs Community United Methodist Church on Church Lane. It gathers hundreds from the community, people from all the churches and those with no church memberships at all, not to mention those visiting family and friends on the Easter weekend. Members of the Borrego Ministers Association participate along with clergy from many of the town congregations – Community United Methodist Church, St. Barnabas Episcopal, St. Richard's Catholic Church, Borrego Lutheran, and the Latter Day Saints Church.
A volunteer choir offers an anthem, Jinny Perrin directing. The service contains prayers, Easter hymns, scripture readings, including one of the Easter gospel accounts. Offerings go to the outreach work to help Borregans in need by the BMA, which also sponsors the Blessing of Pets, the Thanksgiving Eve service, Christmas Concert, and "Ash Wednesday ashes-to-go" on Christmas Circle.
Why so early a service though, just as dawn is breaking? Christians have celebrated the resurrection of Jesus both in the night before and at the break of day, sunrise, from ancient times. The four gospels differ in details of what happened and what was seen "on the first day of the week after the Sabbath." The number of angels in white garments, sitting by the empty tomb varies, as does the number of women disciples who came there and their names. But the gospel narratives do agree that Jesus' women disciples came ", on the first day after the Sabbath, very early in the morning, while it was dark" to the tomb, to do the ritual of washing and anointing with spices of Jesus' body that could not be done late on Friday, when the start of the Sabbath was approaching. Like the other services of holy week and Easter, it was the practices of the church in Jerusalem that shaped how Christians throughout Europe celebrated these sacred days.
A nun from Spain, Egeria, described in great detail the church services in Jerusalem around 380 CE. Our sunrise service, just as those of Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and the other morning services of Easter Day all have their origins in the Jerusalem celebrations, which became the models for service throughout the Middle East, Europe and eventually the New World. The rising of the sun means a new day and has for centuries been the time to celebrate the new life brought by Jesus' resurrection.
Happy Easter! Christ is risen!