Stunning announcement ahead…
Tapestry had a blow-out Easter SonRise Service!
Not in the sense that there were so many people that we had to round up by hundreds when we tried to count them all. We had 72. Wait. Count them again to be sure… 1, 2, 3, … 70, 71, 72. Yep. Seventy-two.
I’ve been doing this slowly-growing, small-church thing for a few years. I’ve learned that we never know what to expect, people-wise, for a major holiday. And, yes, I know it’s not about numbers, but it is kinda about numbers. As they say at a mega church in South Carolina, “Every number has a name, every name has a story, and every story matters to God.” So, yeah. Counting people matters. But, this post is not to debate the ascribed value of counting butts in the pew, it’s about Jesus and how He seemed to be showing off on Easter morning.
As I was praying and listening and trying to decipher what God was saying about Tapestry’s Easter service, I thought I heard a still, small voice saying that we should have a gathering that I (the pastor) would want to attend. Okay, duh. That permission given, I cast the vision for the Easter service my soul craved: the simplicity of a sunrise service… a SonRise service.
When we first moved to Minnesota, life was chaotic and uncertain. We stumbled across a community of Jesus followers that felt like home; at least, as much like home as we could feel at that time. The first year at Victory Vineyard (now South Metro Vineyard), two of the kids and I attended an Easter Sunrise Service. It was simple. A small group of drowsy, early risers gathered around a campfire with a wooden cross as the backdrop. One of the pastors, Johnny G, strummed on the guitar, his country wrangler attitude coming through in the sweet choruses that made Jesus seem so real and so human… so near. I wanted that, again. Whether or not people showed up, the few of us who simply craved a peaceful, Easter morning with Jesus would be filled. And Jesus would be glorified.
Tapestry reserved the top of Pete’s Hill, the highest point in Scott County, as our Easter SonRise destination. You can see all of Elko New Market from that vantage. Elko New Market looks a lot more tree covered from Pete’s Hill than from the sidewalks below. You should wander on up there. Since there’s very little parking at the base of Pete’s Hill Park, we rented a school bus and drove folks from our typical meeting place at the library to the park. As we exited the bus at the entrance to the park, we were gripped by the sound of a heavy drumbeat. The beat of the djembe called to us through the woods, inviting us to the top of the hill. It was tribal. It was mesmerizing. It was irresistible.
Folks departed the bus to board one of six awaiting golf cart chariots which delivered them to the hilltop. I needed some solitude, a few minutes with just me and Jesus. I chose to walk up a well-worn, dirt path through the woods; all the while, the drumbeat grew louder, filling me with anticipation. As the path exited the woods onto concrete at the top of the hill, I was stunned at the crowd of people. People I didn’t even know. Where on earth did they come from? Why are they here?
As incredible as it sounds, others heard the drumbeat, too. They came out of their homes, curiosity overtaking them, and they followed the beat to the top of the hill. It’s crazy, but it’s true!
And there, at the top of Pete’s Hill, overlooking Elko New Market and miles beyond, with the sun rising, the frogs singing, and a woodpecker hammering away on a tree, we worshiped Jesus. The Easter sermon was a simple message about the moment we recognize the risen Lord who’s been standing before us all along. As the message ended, the worship team with the tribal drumbeat closed us out, voices joining in singing and shouting out over the slumbering town,
“My God’s not dead
He’s surely alive
He’s living on the inside
Roaring like a lion…”
It felt like a prophetic declaration over the land. It felt so Book of Acts. It felt like Jesus once again enlisted a diverse group of followers to experience and announce the joy of His resurrection. All I can say is, “More, Lord. More.” To You be the glory, forever and ever. Amen.