We’re traveling back in time, six years to be exact, to when I decided we ought to take in an Easter sunrise service as part of our experience of entering into the visual reminder of Christ, the Risen Son of God. I learned that this early Resurrection service held at sunrise began among the Moravians of Herrnhut in 1732. Some young men who met together on Saturday evenings for prayer decided to go to a place of burial the first day of the week as dawn came. They would sing hymns of praise together. This custom grew and spread to America among the early Moravian settlers in colonial days (Celebrating the Christian Year by Martha Zimmerman.)
My family will attest to the fact that mum goes to extremes at times to hand out her, “teachable moments.” I decided to search the internet for a local sunrise service and ended up happening upon a Smoky Mountain one, some four and a half hours’ drive east of us.
Well, seeing as that would mean leaving the house around midnight to arrive on time at our destination, the family indulged me, and instead, we booked a weekend away in Gatlinburg, TN, all in order to rise at 4 a.m. with our then four year old, double seven year olds, and eleven year old. Hmmm….has anyone ever tried rousing these ages at 4 a.m. (not to mention a hubby who lives for his nap times?) So, okay, while I’m promoting the idea on all sides, yes, let’s be honest up front….proceed with caution. You know your family best. For those of you who want to risk the adventure, and the possible momentary whines, complaints, and sad whimpers, I say go for it!
We rode the gondola in the cover of darkness to the top of one of the smoky mountains to take in a collective Easter service put together by several churches in the area. Of course, for me– the excited idea instigator–I had to swallow my fear of heights in huge gulps and stifled gasps while listening to that one loud fellow gondola commuter who wondered aloud in the quiet dark of the contraption at the possibility of the cable snapping on us during our ascent.
The ride, (and even the lesson in fear and trust,) was worth it. The service was lovely, the view spectacular, and our descent breathtaking (and agreeably, for me, a bit scary to actually be able to see how high up we were in our weighted, body-to-body packed gondola.)
While Gatlinburg can take on that very “touristy” feeling upon arrival, particularly weekends and holidays, it’s beautiful all the same, and if you wait it out one more day until the crowds disperse it will take on a completely different feel and view on a Monday, or throughout the week.
Earlier in the weekend we had taken in a magnificent musical called The Miracle, on the life of Christ, complete with angels flying over our heads to enter the front stage. This was a birthday gift for our then eleven year old daughter.
We ended our trip with a drive through the mountains and a picnic lunch and hike. This is the part I could have done more of during our stay, and encourage you to do so if you ever get the chance to visit the Smoky Mountains.
The gondola ride up the mountain, the sunrise, the service, the awe-inspiring view, the being together with all my dear ones, creating memories (and don’t forget those teachable moments too), it was all worth the tired eyes at 4 a.m., the long road trip with young’uns, and the sealed in our minds memories of why we gathered on that mountaintop to greet the sun, and praise our Maker for the Resurrection.
Christ is Risen!
He is Risen indeed!