Sunrise service marks Easter at West Thompson Lake dam

By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
Thompson - posted Tue., Apr. 26, 2011
(L-r) The Rev. Dr. Jennifer Cook, Weston Cook, Larry Leboeuf, Gayle Salisbury, Ruth Barks, Robyn Charbonneau, Blair Cole and Karen Charbonneau with Bailey the dog at the sunrise service. Photos by Denise Coffey.
(L-r) The Rev. Dr. Jennifer Cook, Weston Cook, Larry Leboeuf, Gayle Salisbury, Ruth Barks, Robyn Charbonneau, Blair Cole and Karen Charbonneau with Bailey the dog at the sunrise service. Photos by Denise Coffey.

The Rev. Dr. Jennifer Cook of the Thompson Congregational Church greeted her congregation with flute music at the sunrise service on Easter morning, April 24. Few could see her for the fog at the flagpole at the West Thompson Lake dam.

“It was pretty dark when we arrived,” Ruth Barks said.

But they weren't supposed to see her, as much as hear the beautiful music she played.

They were supposed to see Mary Magdalene, who greeted everyone as they pulled into the parking lot.

“Mary was greeting everyone in the parking lot. She was telling them that the tomb was empty, that Jesus had risen,” Cook said of the performance that was intended to be reflective of the original Easter morning.

Birds sang, even the raucous crows seemed to take part. And with Cook playing “Gabriel's Hobo” from the movie “Mission,” people gathered around the flagpole in silence and in the dark. A fire burned, and someone threw frankincense and myrrh on the flames.

Larry Leboeuf and Gayle Salisbury have been attending sunrise services for years. “Gayle used to work every Easter Sunday at the hospital,” Leboeuf said. “She'd start work at 7. We always went to a sunrise service because going to a regular service was impossible.”

Thirty-three people showed up at 5:30 a.m. for the service. The rest of the congregation was planning to attend the regularly-scheduled 10 a.m. service. Cook let her early morning worshipers in on the details of the surprise Easter service that she had planned for later.

The cross would be decorated in white and gold. At its foot would be a sad, young woman. One by one, five clowns would approach her and try to get her to smile. One would pull out a handkerchief to give her, and 20 more would come from his sleeve. The woman would smile. Another clown would bring her a doll. Another would hand her a huge helium filled balloon with the words, “I love you,” on it. With every encounter, she would smile. Then two clowns would approach with signs. On one would be the word, “Rejoice.” On the other, “Alleluia.” The clowns would leave her alone, and she would realize what they were trying to do for her.

“He is risen,” she would say. To which Cook would reply, “He is risen indeed.”

Then the choir will start, she said. “It'll be great.”

People come to Easter services with question marks, Cook said. “They want to know that the story is true, that the tomb was empty.”


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