EASTER CELEBRATED AT BREAK OF DAWN: SUNRISE SERVICE IN CEMETARY A MOVING EXPERIENCE FOR HUNDREDS.Byline: Kevin F. Sherry Daily News Staff Writer
The Easter service was under way as the first rays of the sun peeked over the eastern hills.
Hundreds of Christians from a variety of denominations gathered at 6 a.m. Sunday at Pierce Brothers Valley Oaks Memorial Park in Westlake Village to read prayers, hear sermons and sing hymns to reaffirm re·af·firm
tr.v. re·af·firmed, re·af·firm·ing, re·af·firms
To affirm or assert again.
re their belief that Jesus rose from the dead three days after his Crucifixion crucifixion, hanging on a cross, in ancient times a method of capital punishment. It was practiced widely in the Middle East but not by the Greeks. The Romans, who may have borrowed it from Carthage, reserved it for slaves and despised malefactors. .
Cindy Meinke-Schoerner came to Valley Oaks for the service and to visit the grave of her husband, Peter Schoerner, who died two years ago in a climbing accident.
``It makes it more special for me to be right here,'' Meinke-Schoerner said. ``It's where I come to have some peace.''
Meinke-Schoerner especially enjoyed the ecumenical nature of the service.
``That is just more encompassing as a world view,'' she said. ``There is one universal peace that is being felt by many.''
The serene setting of the service provides a connection to relatives who have died and a peaceful start to the Easter holiday, said Joanne Bleahu, whose parents are buried at Valley Oaks.
``It's so pretty when you come at 6 o'clock and it's still dark,'' Bleahu said.
Before the sun rose, small candles in paper bags lined and lighted the drive into the park, and hundreds of others formed a giant, glowing cross on the hillside. The bright planter's moon provided light until the sun appeared.
A small flock of sheep grazed graze 1
v. grazed, graz·ing, graz·es
1. To feed on growing grasses and herbage.
a. To eat a variety of appetizers as a full meal. around the cross under the watchful watch·ful
1. Closely observant or alert; vigilant: kept a watchful eye on the clock. See Synonyms at aware, careful.
2. Archaic Not sleeping; awake. eyes of their canine canine
Any domestic or wild dog or doglike mammal (e.g., wolf, jackal, fox) in the family Canidae, found throughout the world except in Antarctica and on most ocean islands. guard.
``It's spiritual,'' said Bleahu, who has been coming to the sunrise service Traditional View
Sunrise service is a worship service on Easter. It takes the place of the Roman Catholic tradition of the Easter Vigil, and is practiced by mainly Protestant churches. for several years. ``I look forward to it.''
Heavy coats were more prominent than Easter bonnets An Easter Bonnet is a type of hat that people, especially children, wear to Easter services in church. Until recently, it was popular within infant school to ask a child to design an Easter-themed hat at that time of year. as the voices of the choir joined with piano and trumpet. The early hour and temperatures in the low 40s were unimportant un·im·por·tant
Not important; petty.
unim·portance n. , Meinke-Schoerner said.
``It wouldn't matter what time of day,'' she said.
The sunrise service is not the easiest tradition to keep, Bleahu said.
``It's a challenge, I've got to say,'' said Bleahu, who managed to rouse six of her nine grandchildren GRANDCHILDREN, domestic relations. The children of one's children. Sometimes these may claim bequests given in a will to children, though in general they can make no such claim. 6 Co. 16. to join her at the service.
One granddaughter even came in stocking feet because she could not find her shoes in time, she said.
``I'm surprised they got up,'' Bleahu said. ``They will remember it.''
PHOTO (1--Color) A single candle lights up an Easter message at the sunrise service Sunday at Pierce Brothers Valley Oaks Memorial Park.
(2--Color) With hundreds of candles forming a cross in the background, the Rev. John Nagel delivers an Easter sermon in Westlake Village.
(3-4--Color) Scott Sowers and his daughter, Rachel, 4, left, as well as Brian and Cindy Alonge, above, sing and pray by candlelight at the Easter sunrise service.
Tina Gerson/Daily News