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St Johns Southgate

11 Apr 2018

St Johns Southgate Image

Rise and shine

It’s twenty-past six on Easter morning and pilgrims from Good Friday’s Way of the Cross walk are starting to gather outside St Paul’s Cathedral.

It’s a little bit cold and everyone’s still waking up (except the party goers who’ve been out all night) but there’s a whiff of anticipation in the air and everyone’s exchanging smiles or friendly hellos with the familiar faces from last year.

On the dot of six-thirty, some words of scripture and poetry are shared and then, together, we walk past Federation Square, across Princes Bridge, around the side of Hamer Hall until we reach St Johns Southgate. Gathering outside, by the bronze plaque depicting the resurrection, we hear its startling story from scripture, some poetic reflections, then gather in the church to light candles and burst into joyful song.

As light begins to creep in through the windows, the dawn service continues with more singing and readings from scripture and an opportunity for worshippers to reaffirm their faith.

Finally, after a dramatic organ postlude, everyone follows their noses to the function room where they’re treated to bubbly, strawberries and, of course, hot cross buns!

The room is abuzz with chatter and the bright shining faces of people from every imaginable Christian tradition. The festivities continue as the sun shines brighter and people are still chatting as worshippers arrive for the nine o’clock service. Some enthusiastic pilgrims even decide to stay on for the eucharist!

In the calendar of the annual events at St Johns, the Easter dawn service is unique. Every year we welcome a great number of devout and enthusiastic pilgrims who have walked the Way of the Cross on Good Friday and choose to make St Johns their worshipping home on (arguably) the most holy day of the year.

For many people, Easter is an opportunity to spend quality time with family, but this dawn service widens the arms of family embrace to an extended family.

Lutherans, Catholics, Anglicans, Orthodox, Uniting Church folk and more worship as one. For a faith-based celebration that is singularly focussed on the resurrection of Jesus, it is characterised by a beautiful diversity.

Admittedly, thinking about rising before dawn might make you feel gloomy but I guarantee that doing something outside your ordinary routine, with a family you didn’t even know you had, will make your face shine.

See you there, bright and early, next year!

Tom Hoffmann

Pastor - St Johns Southgate

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