Today is the day. The start of a grand adventure. An adventure that has taken place for the past 39 years.
On April 15th 1979, Pastor Amos Dodge and his wife, Sue began hosting an Easter Sunrise Service at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. What started with 120 people has miraculously turned into a crowd of 8,000. And Ignite has the incredible opportunity to be part of it.
I love this event. Of all the things Ignite gets to be a part of, this one is one of my favorites. There is a sense of magic and awe as we, as students, support the team of Capital Church in setting up for this momentous event. There is just something about waiting in expectation for the sun to rise… waiting to celebrate our risen King on the steps of history.
When we arrive in Washington D.C. everything is quiet and still. The city is asleep, but the bright lights contrasting against the black and gray sky create an atmosphere of invitation.
In the darkness, we begin the tedious task of setting up for the service. Chairs are meticulously placed. Row after row after row. The stage begins to take shape as pieces are assembled.
And then we wait. We break off into groups and explore the city at night. Some walk, some ride bikes, some sleep. Perhaps I should have chosen to sleep; I know I could have used it. But as I rode a bike around the sleeping city, with friends in front of me and the world behind me, I felt my worries and fears begin to melt away. It was in the crisp air blowing through my hair, the majestic trees gently swaying in the cool breeze, and the monumental buildings, reminding me of the great history the city holds, that I heard the Lord gently whisper in my ear. It was then that He reminded me that the invitation I felt the atmosphere holding, was the same invitation that He extends to me, every day.
This invitation is not one that is subject to serving at an event once a year on Easter. It is an invitation to, every day, live a new life that was bought for me on the cross. This invitation is exciting, sobering, and breathtaking. It is an invitation that causes the very monuments I was gazing at to pale in comparison. It is an invitation that is active and continuous; one that I can take part in moment after moment, day after day.
This is why we sacrifice a few hours of sleep. This is why, with sleepy eyes and tired feet, we pray over every chair and greet strangers with smiles. Why you might ask? Because it is an invitation that is not exclusive and it must be shared. It is one that I want to shout about from the steps of every memorial.
There is something to be said about feeling small amid the grandeur you see around every turn of this city. I was reminded of how great God is and how pertinent it is to set the stage for the miraculous to occur. The desire to make sure that every individual feel seen, known, and loved, becomes our mission. Sharing the love and acceptance of Jesus becomes our goal.
And finally, the sun comes up. The beams of light erupt through the clouds and it is almost as if the colors of the sky are just bursting with joy to proclaim the news of our King. He is risen!
Shannon is a Sophomore student from Southern California. Her mission is to know the Lord deeply and to live out what He has taught her. Shannon will be returning to Ignite in the Fall of 2017 as a RA and plans to earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Ministry and Leadership.