- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 17, 2014

Dumb luck or divine intervention, the weather cooperated for the first Easter Sunrise Service at the Lincoln Memorial in 1979, and for the Rev. Amos Dodge, it meant the start of a tradition marking its 36th anniversary this weekend.

People of any faith — or those who simply enjoy a monumental sunrise — are invited to attend this year’s service, one of many special events around the District to mark Holy Week and Easter Sunday.

“It’s a magnificent place for a sunrise, probably one of the best places on the planet for a sunrise” said Mr. Dodge, pastor of Capital Church in Fairfax County. “Sitting on the Lincoln steps, the audience is actually facing east. As the sun comes up and over the Capitol Dome, the Washington Monument, the Reflecting Pool — it’s magnificent.”

Last year, more than 5,000 people attended the service, and Mr. Dodge said he expects a similar crowd, if the weather cooperates. Early forecasts show sun and temperatures in the mid-60s.

Mr. Dodge said the service will go on, rain or shine, so bring blankets, seats, and umbrellas if necessary.

Capital Church is interdenominational, and Mr. Dodge said his sermon sticks to the traditional Bible narrative of Easter Sunday — the resurrection of Jesus.

Easter is joyful, Easter is a celebration,” he said. “Christ rose from the dead, so it’s a happy occasion.”

Easter Sunday caps the 40-day Lenten season, with Holy Thursday and Good Friday marking a somber start to the weekend.

St. John’s Church in Lafayette Square, across from the White House, is hosting a meditation on the Stations of the Cross from noon to 3 p.m. on Good Friday.

The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception is holding a Stations of the Cross at noon Friday.

And The Church of the Epiphany, just blocks from the White House, is offering a Good Friday service that’s only 40 minutes, the Rev. Melanie Slane said.

“It’s great for people who work downtown,” she said. “They can come in on their lunch break.”

A “burial of Christ” ceremony at the Franciscan Monastery in Northeast begins at 7:30 p.m. Friday.

Monastery spokeswoman Susan Gibbs said the burial traces a path similar to the one performed in Jerusalem, at the site where Jesus is believed to have been crucified and buried.

“It’s really different,” Ms. Gibbs said. “It’s the only one I know of in this area.”

The procession is held on monastery property, and wends its way through the site’s replica of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

Carrying a figure of crucified Jesus, the procession begins at the Calvary Altar, where the crucifixion is believed to have happened, followed by the Anointing Stone, where Jesus’ body was prepared for burial, and then the figure is carried into the tomb.

The procession includes music, prayer and the reading of Scripture.

“It really is powerful,” Ms. Gibbs said. “People go and lay their hands on the tomb and pray.”

The event is open to anyone and attendees are advised to arrive early to find a seat.

“It gets pretty crowded, but that’s because it’s really just so different,” Ms. Gibbs said. “It’s Friday night, we’re closing down the day. It’s sort of a last very emotional experience.”

For those still looking for an Easter morning service, the church has services at 8 a.m. and 11 a.m., and a meal and egg hunt at 12:30 p.m.

The Washington National Cathedral’s Great Vigil of Easter begins at 8 p.m. Saturday and runs past midnight.

“Right as it becomes Sunday, there’s singing and ringing of bells and keys,” cathedral spokeswoman Meredith MacKenzie said.

Easter morning, visitors to the cathedral will see the cavernous interior transformed from the prior somber evening.

“It’s gorgeous,” Ms. MacKenzie said. “There’s amazing music, the flowers are stunning. We’re showing a message of welcome. It’s a great place to celebrate Easter.”

Those wishing to attend one of the Easter services at 8 a.m. or 11 a.m. are advised to arrive an hour early to obtain passes.

The basilica’s Solemn Mass, celebrated by Archbishop of Washington Cardinal Donald Wuerl, is set for noon. A Spanish Mass is to be held at 2:30 p.m. at the basilica.

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