The rain fell in steady streams. The forecast said rain through the night and into Easter morning. I couldn't help being disappointed; nor could I get rid of a memory of an Easter morning many years earlier.
I lived in Maine at the time. A group of friends and I were winding our way up a mountain in the dark, trying to keep candles lit in the rain. At the moment that the sun was to appear, we were huddled under blankets singing "Christ the Lord Is Risen Today." The sky eventually grew a bit lighter, but the pelting rain never stopped. We called it our "Easter unrise service."
I feared a repeat performance last year at the first sunrise service we had had at Sojourners in many years. Those of us who planned it began to realize what a stake we had in good weather for the occasion. The week before, we had scouted out the small park across from the outreach building which houses Sojourners magazine and our peace ministry. The park is known not only as the smallest national park in the United States, but also as the highest point in Washington, D.C. We had carefully chosen the spot with the best view to the East.
About a hundred of us—Sojourners community and our worshiping congregation—gathered at the outreach building at just about dawn last Easter morning. The rain had stopped, but the overcast sky initiated a debate over whether to hold our service in the outreach building chapel or in the park. The park won out, and we gathered up folding chairs, plastic bags, and children for the procession up muddy banks to the top of the hill. Soon the chairs were unfolded, the plastic bags were spread out on the wet ground, and all the children's attention was riveted on the opening of our worship.