‘The dawn has come …’

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Faithful gather for Easter sunrise service at Heritage United Methodist

By Sandy Barnes

Deep snow covering the ground brought the Easter sunrise service indoors at Heritage United Methodist Church on Sunday morning.


In the warmth of the sanctuary, which was decorated with spring flowers, the Rev. Loren Boyce, senior pastor, led a spirited service filled with song, scripture, words of hope — and humor.

In his message to the congregation, Boyce told the story of a Sunday school teacher who was explaining the story of Jesus rising from the tomb to her third-grade class.

“What were Jesus’ first words?” the teacher asked the youngsters.

“Ta-dah!” exclaimed one of the children, as related by Boyce.

“I can almost hear Jesus turning to God and saying, ‘Ta-dah!’ ” Boyce said, his arms extended in a jubilant gesture.

The theme of resurrection ran through another story the pastor related about a soldier who everyone thought had been killed in war. However, he was actually in a prisoner of war camp, Boyce said.

When the soldier returned home, his happiness and maturity were unsettling to those who knew him, he said. However, a priest whom the family consulted about the soldier’s behavior told them that essentially the man had risen from the dead, the reason for his exuberant behavior.

“We remember that the tomb is empty, but not the promise of hope,” Boyce said. “The dawn has come, and the risen Lord is with us.”

Traditional and contemporary songs led by Lisa Steward, director of worship, were woven into the service. The choir sang soft harmony to the well-known hymn, “Amazing Grace.” And the congregation joined in the singing of “Mighty to Save,” a less-familiar hymn with the lyrics: “Shine your light and let the whole world see we’re singing for the glory of the risen King Jesus.”

Toward the end of the service, Boyce projected an image of a sunrise on a large screen behind the altar, on which clusters of daffodils, lilies and tulips encircled a green cross with a floral design.

“Christ the Lord is risen today,” rang out in the sanctuary as the 6:30 a.m. service ended, the first of three services that would take place at the church on Easter Sunday.

Boyce has served as senior pastor of the church on South Simms Street for the past three years. A Tennessee native who graduated from the University of Tennessee, Boyce earned a master of divinity degree from the Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Georgia.

Boyce classifies himself as a “spiritual imagineer” who incorporates a variety of worship experiences and music into his ministry.

Contact Sandy Barnes at sandy@evergreenco.com or call 303-350-1042.