Easter in Borrego: The Community Sunrise Service
Last updated 4/28/2023 at 10:56am
The Christian gospels tell that "very early in the morning of the third day," the women disciples of Jesus went to the tomb where he was buried in haste after being taken down from the cross. The Eastern Church calls these women the "myrrhbearers," because they brought with them myrrh and other spices used in Jewish burial in the first century CE. They found the tomb empty, the stone at the entrance rolled away. Inside they saw one or two messengers in brilliant white clothing. These angels told the women that Jesus, for whom they were looking, was not there. He had been raised from death and he was waiting for them back in Galilee. And the women brought this good news back to the others, receiving mostly disbelieving reactions.
The early morning of Easter, right at sunrise, is when Christians have been gathering over the centuries to celebrate Jesus' resurrection. This they do both in churches and out of doors. For many years, it has been the custom to do this here in Borrego, behind the Methodist church, where there is a flat area and then a gentle rise that forms a natural amphitheater for people to sit through a service of readings from the scriptures, hymns and prayers. In 2020 and 2021 this could not be done due to the pandemic, but the Sunrise Service resumed last year and was held again April 9.
It is a Community Service, gathering people from various Borrego congregations as well as visitors and those who attend no church at all. The Borrego Ministers' Association (BMA) hosts the Sunrise Service as it does the Community Thanksgiving Eve Service and the Community Sacred Christmas Concert.
As in past years, members of the BMA led the Service, with readings being done by Heidi Madden of St. Richard's, Diane Johnson of St. Barnabas and Br. Geoff Barton of the LDS Church. Prayers were led by Fr. Michael Plekon of St. Barnabas, Nidia Y Meza-Mamea and Terry Neal of the Methodist Church and Chaplain Dale Jones of the American Legion Post 853.
Pastor Mateo Mamea of the Methodist Church was the preacher. Jinny Perrin of the Methodist Church led a choir assembled from the churches in an Easter anthem, "Hallelujah to the Risen Lamb," and several other hymns were sung.
Martha Deichler of the Community Resource Center explained the work of the BMA, which is to assist Borrego people in situations of stress and need. Over the past several years over $350,000 has been dispersed to fellow Borregans from the generous contributions made to the BMA. The BMA has helped victims of burned-out and uninhabitable homes, those let go from employment during the pandemic and the summer, families needing help with their children, residents struggling with rent and utilities payments in times of illness.
The BMA works with all the Food Banks in Borrego, those at the Community Resource Center and at St. Richard's and St. Barnabas churches. Seniors make up 60% or more of those who are food insecure, with many more affected by cuts to programs for food like SNAP and Cal-Fresh. County social workers visit the first Tuesday of the month to advise residents on state and country and federal programs for which they may qualify. There is a link with the "Go Borrego" program out of the Senior Center which reimburses drivers for trips to medical facilities. A free will offering was taken as worshippers left the Sunrise Service. And contributions can be made online at https://borregoministersassociation.org and at Borrego Ministers' Association, PO Box 2183, Borrego Springs CA 92004.
Almost 200 attended the 2023 Community Easter Sunrise Service and rejoiced in the promise of hope and new life of this holy day.