Easter sunrise service held at Thompson Dam

By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
Thompson - posted Mon., Apr. 1, 2013
Music Minister Susan Markham gets help reading the music. Photos by D. Coffey.
Music Minister Susan Markham gets help reading the music. Photos by D. Coffey.

With pre-dawn temperatures hovering around 30-degrees and a waning moon still high on the western horizon, the Rev. Dr. Jennifer Cook of the Thompson Congregational Church began the Easter sunrise service at West Thompson Lake. More than 30 people stood around the flagpole on a perch of land overlooking the expansive lake. The slender candles they held in their hands gave off the only light. Cook held a tall white candle – the Christ candle – and called those gathered to pause for a moment of silence. The lights of a car traveling across Route 171 was the only light in the east, the only sound the call of a killdeer.

Then Cook spoke. “Brothers and sisters, you have heard the good news,” she read. Thus began the service celebrating the holiest and most hopeful of holidays in the Christian faith. For nearly 2.2 billion Christians worldwide, the "good news" of which she spoke was the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the son of God.

A fire burned in a fire pit, compliments of Head Deacon Linda Fafard. A parishioner shone a light on the opened pages of a hymnal for Music Minister Susan Markham. Markham sat close to her electric keyboard, her fingers poking through gloves she wore for the occasion. Deacon Clarence Ballard stood next to Cook, a program in one hand and a flashlight in the other. Cook and Ballard read the “Call To Worship” before Markham put her fingers to the keyboard and played “For the Beauty of the Earth.”

The circle of worshipers sang, and as they did their breath rose like steam in the air. They wore hats and gloves, down jackets and winter scarves. The pine boards thrown onto the fire sent embers skyward. Another car pulled into the lot. “We give thanks,” Cook said. The gray sky lightened gradually as she led a service of prayer and song.

“Early in the morning, believers gathered to celebrate your victory over death,” Cook said. “We stand in awe of your resurrection.” A young child held a blanket close. Ducks called as they flew in over the lake. The eastern horizon started to turn pink. The underbellies of thin clouds began to turn pink. “Go in awe and give thanks,” Cook said. “He is risen indeed.”

Several people stayed to watch the sun break over the horizon. “I love the sunrise,” said Natalie Langlois. “It's a good time to worship.” The Woodstock native makes it her habit to attend different Easter sunrise services every year. Last year she went to the Abington Congregational Church service, before that, a multi-church service at Woodstock Academy. “I go for the experience,” she said.

Some attendees got into their cars for the short drive to Thompson Congregational Church and a warm breakfast. Some lingered while the sun took its time rising. A man and a woman stood waiting against the guard rail, their eyes focused on the eastern horizon.

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