Easter Sunrise Service on the Beach
by BILL HUNT 4/04/2011 / Education
The silver-white ball of rising sun appeared through an overcast haze above the panoramic ocean expanse. It was an Easter Sunday sunrise I'll never forget. As I stood to the podium, I noticed beach people in bathing suits gather, now about 200. They seemed a little fidgety. I assured them it was all right to attend in bathing suits and bikinis. After all, it was a Florida beach.
As I started to preach, a strong wind began to blow.
I could not open my sermon outline sheets or even turn the pages of my Bible. Everything I planned disappeared in a few moments.
"The wind is so strong," I said, "I'm going to forget my planned sermon notes and speak to you from my heart. But there is one scripture I want to share with you." The gusty wind blew ever stronger. I fought with the flapping pages of my Bible. At last I found the verse.
"Jesus said to her, 'I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live' " (John 11:25 NKJ).
As I closed my windy Bible, I noticed the gathering attendees standing in a semi-circle around our group of a dozen interfaith ministers. The numbers quickly grew to about 600, standing or sitting on the sand listening attentively. Where were they all coming from, I wondered.
I told them of Jesus' prayer in the garden,
the sweat of blood dripping to the ground, his pleading three times for the apostles to join him.
"And He said, 'Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will' " (Mark 14:36 NKJ).
The ministerium now noticed the audience on the beach had grown significantly. They counted approximately 2200 to 2500 guests. A most unusual crowd, but not for the beach. About a third were women in colorful bikinis, a third men in bathing suites, and another third casually dressed. All listened attentively.
Jesus was brought illegally for judgment during the night hours before Annas, Caiaphas, and the Sanhedrin. He was betrayed three times by Peter who broke down and cried from remorse when the rooster crowed. Judas, realizing more was occurring than perhaps he planned, despaired and hung himself.
Jesus was taken before Pilate for the sentence of death.
"Then Pilate asked Him, 'Are You the King of the Jews?"
"He answered and said to him, 'It is as you say' " (Mark 15:2 NKJ).
"Then the soldiers led Him away into the hall called Praetorium, and they called together the whole garrison. And they clothed Him with purple; and they twisted a crown of thorns, put it on His head, and began to salute Him, 'Hail, King of the Jews!' Then they struck Him on the head with a reed and spat on Him; and bowing the knee, they worshiped Him. And when they had mocked Him, they took the purple off Him, put His own clothes on Him, and led Him out to crucify Him" (Mark 15:16-20 NKJ).
The soldiers horribly abused Jesus on the cross. After three hours he died.
"Now when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, 'Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?' which is translated, 'My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me'?" (Mark 15:33-35 NKJ).
On that first Easter morning, the women came and found the tomb empty and encountered the two angels. Peter and John entered the tomb to be sure. Mary Magdalene met Jesus outside, thinking he was the gardener. Jesus walked and talked the wonderful conversation with the two disciples on the road to Emmaus.
I concluded with the story of Jesus meeting the apostles and Jesus encountering Thomas in the upper room. I told of how Jesus later healed the denying Peter on the beach with three love affirmations.
"He said to him the third time, 'Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?' Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, 'Do you love Me?' And he said to Him, 'Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.' Jesus said to him, 'Feed My sheep' " (John 21:17 NKJ).
One of the ministers came up to help me with an altar call, and grabbed my arm.
People standing on the beach sand were crying all through the audience. The Holy Spirit favored us with a mass anointing. I turned around to ask for help from the ministers and saw they were crying too, from the humble Alliance pastor to the Baptist Reverend Doctor. They were all wiping away tears.
People came forward, lines formed, and each of the ministers present walked down and began laying hands on men and women in prayer lines. We were Methodists, Alliance, Lutherans, Baptists, Pentecostals, and other faiths. God's Apostles ministered together to a crowd of two thousand people standing in the sand on an Easter morning windy beach.
Bill Hunt dedicated his marriage to discovering God's 100 million miracles in life. As a Christian Writer, administrator, and career educator, he writes true miracle stories and Christian teachings on FaithWriters and CornerRetreat.blogspot.com.