"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy we have been born anew to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." -1 Peter 1:3
First Light of Easter
Getting up before dawn to watch the sunrise is a special treasure that is not easily forgotten in life. This Easter morning tradition of a sunrise breakfast creates a sacred space in which memories are cultivated for life. Some families already have this tradition and gather together in community for a sunrise service. For those who don’t, however, why not do it at home? Breakfast can be as simple or elaborate as you wish. The most important element is simply gathering together as a family and enjoying the time together.
- Breakfast foods
- Printout of John 20: 1-18
How To Do It
1. The night before, set the table. If possible, consider setting up outside on a balcony or deck, or near a window to see the sunrise. Also, prepare as much of breakfast ahead of time as possible. Breakfast can be as simple or elaborate as you like.
2. Plan to wake everyone in time to be ready at the table about 10-15 minutes before sunrise. Here's a website to figure out what time that will be where you are.
3. Serve breakfast and have everyone seated. Begin with a prayer of your own or use this one: "God of darkness and light, we give you thanks for this Easter morning. As we sit here in the dark, we are excited to experience the resurrection in a new way as the sun rises and light fills the sky. Help us to have a meaningful breakfast together as a family. Amen."
4. Begin to eat breakfast together and have someone read the passage slowly and deliberately.
5. Read the first line again: "Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark..." (20:1a, NRSV). Is it still dark outside? This is the time of day when Mary went to the tomb. Ask, "How do you think Mary felt when she went to the tomb in the dark?" If you are able to eat outside, take note of what sounds you hear. Is it quiet? Is it noisy?
6. Enjoy breakfast together and notice as it gets brighter and day breaks. Share any thoughts and experiences that come to mind. Ask questions that occur to you or use one (or more) of the following:
- What part of the Gospel reading is most interesting to you or sticks out the most?
- Does the light happen all at once, or does it seem to get light outside gradually? What does this tell us about the resurrection?
- In the reading, Mary calls Jesus 'teacher.' How is Jesus a teacher to you?
- How do you think people felt when they realized that Jesus was alive? Did different people feel differently?
- 'Resurrection' means coming back to life. What are some things that remind you of resurrection in the world?
7. Close your time together with a prayer of your own or use this one: "Thank you, God, for this resurrection breakfast, a time to focus on you and the mystery of resurrection. Help us to celebrate Easter and to share its message of hope and promise. Amen."
Notes and Variations
The beauty of this tradition is that it starts Easter morning with a spiritual focus and centers the day in family and faith. This tradition is a great foundation on which to build other traditions as the years go by.
- Add your own special recipes and surprises at breakfast.
- Use different scriptures and prayers in different years.
- Add songs or other readings that are meaningful in your family.
Easter Sunrise Breakfast is found on pages 53-55 of Faithful Families: Creating Sacred Moments at Home, Chalice Press: 2017. Check out the pdf version of the book pages here.
Traci Smith has spent more than 15 years helping families find meaningful connections in living their faith together. In listening to families' stories and trying creative approaches, she has seen lives change as parents nurture faith and children learn about God in new ways. You can find more of Traci's writing and family resources at www.traci-smith.com.