The song of wind chimes, violins and gusty air fill the courtyard of University Christian Church in Fort Worth as those in attendance filed in for a chilly Easter sunrise service.
The service began with words from Tyler Heston, assistant minister and seminary student, as he led the congregation into the Lord’s Prayer. The trees began to make a tune of their own alongside the four-person choir who began to sing hymnals of hope.
“This story starts just like ours today — in the dark,” Assistant Minister and seminary student, Alison Nicoll said as she began telling the story of Jesus’ resurrection from the gospel of John.
As her hair blows across her face and the wind pounds into the microphone, Nicoll talked about the evil that plagues the world and everyone in it each and every day. She reminds those seated, listening quietly and nodding along, that as darkness consumes—light creeps in slowly—just like dawn.
The wind was gusting up to 36 mph. The cold front hit about the same time as sunrise which was between 6:45 and 7 a.m., according to the National Weather Service office in Fort Worth.
Right before the cold front it was about 62, then it dropped to about 54 degrees.
Nicoll read from Psalm 30:5, “weeping may stay for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” This seemed to be the theme of her sermon as she constantly reminded the congregation of these words and encourages them to go forth as joy-filled people.
As Nicoll’s sermon came to a close, Heston came up to talk and pray over the significance of communion. The congregation was then asked to come to the table and take communion. The violin playing serenaded as each person walked slowly and quietly toward the front. The service concludes with everyone joining the four-person choir in singing of the hymn, Christ the Lord is risen today.
“[Easter] provides new joy, it’s a bright celebration,” Hannah Canterbury, a TCU student in attendance said.
Heston shared that sunrise services are different, it’s the only time of year they do a service outside and it brings a special energy to rally behind Easter.
“It gives us a reason to celebrate,” Heston said. “We are consciously deciding to choose hope.”
Nicoll said that there’s something theologically about having this service outside and being able to physically see the symbolism between the story of Jesus and present day as the the sky goes from dark to light.
“With all the bad things happening around us, [Easter] reminds us of hope, promise and joy,” Nicoll said.
The wind slows, the sky brightens to a pale blue and the song of the birds becomes louder as Nicoll said, “Jesus is risen, He is risen indeed!” And the congregation proclaimed together, “Amen.”
Staff writer Dylan Bradley contributed to this report.
Azia Branson; 817-390-7547, @aziabranson