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Merrimack Valley

April 2, 2010

Christians welcome Easter at sunrise services

As the sun rises tomorrow, many faithful will be listening to Jesus' resurrection on a hill, orchard or a park gazebo.

Tomorrow is Easter and sunrise services have become a long-standing tradition in many churches. It relates to the Gospel reading when the women went to Jesus' tomb early in the morning and found that he had risen.

"Just as the sun rises, so did the Son rose from the dead," said the Rev. Robert Varnam, pastor of First Baptist Church in Plaistow, N.H.

New England Bible Church has hosted a sunrise service at the sundial on top of Holt Hill in the Ward Reservation in Andover since 1982, when the congregation was established.

"The sunrise services help us connect with the passage," said the Rev. Tyler Thompson, pastor.

The services are simple, featuring Gospel readings, hymns sung a cappella or accompanied by a guitar player and a short sermon.

"The empty tomb is the focus of Easter, not the cross. Without the empty tomb, there would be no power in the cross because he overcame death, was able to rise and raise us from our own sins," Thompson said.

Here is a partial list of sunrise services:

Atkinson Congregational Church, 101 Main St., Atkinson, N.H., 6 a.m., followed by breakfast.

Broadview Farm, Young Road, East Derry, N.H., First Parish Congregational host service at 6 a.m.

First Congregational, 6 Church St., Kingston, N.H., 6:30 a.m., followed by breakfast.

GAR Park, Main Street, Haverhill, The Vine Church hosts services at 6 a.m.

MacGregor Park, East Broadway, Derry, N.H.: First Baptist and St. Luke United Methodist churches hold joint service at 6:15 a.m.

Nason's Stonehouse Farm Route, Washington Street, West Boxford, Second Congregational in West Boxford and St. James Episcopal in Groveland hold joint service at 5 a.m.

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