Chaplain (Brig. Gen.) Andrew Harewood, the deputy chief of chaplains for the U.S. Army Reserve, delivers the Easter message Sunday. The service was broadcast live from Arlington National Cemetery’s Memorial Amphitheater and was viewed virtually more than 23,000 times via Facebook live. Photo by Julia Simpkins

He has risen: Arlington National Cemetery hosts Easter Sunrise Service

At 6:30 a.m. Sunday, Easter Sunrise service commenced at Arlington National Cemetery’s Amphitheater. The service, which has been held there since 1927, was curtailed into a live-streamed, virtual format because of COVID-19 restrictions. Including technical staff, there were fewer than 30 people in attendance at a venue meant to hold more than 1,000.

The lack of physical attendees did not dampen the impact of the event, however, with hundreds of online worshipers in attendance during the event and many more to replay and share it afterward.

The U.S. Army Band “Pershing’s Own” sent a brass quintet and a chorus quartet. The quintet played the prelude, a bugler played the church call and the chorus quartet sang songs of worship throughout the beginning of the religious celebration.

Easter Sunday is a celebration of what Christians believe to Jesus Christ’s return to life after being crucified to death three days before. His subsequent ascension to heaven is the pinnacle event that signifies him as the savior of all mankind, through redemption. Christians believe Christ bears the weight of all mankind’s sins so we stand a chance of entering heaven through divine forgiveness.

After opening prayers and musical selections were over, Chaplain (Brig. Gen.) Andrew Harewood, the deputy chief of chaplains for the U.S. Army Reserve, delivered the message for the day, “Resurrection Power” which was derived from Philippians, 3:7-11.

A member of the Seventh Day Adventist church, Harewood opened his sermon by acknowledging the space he inhabited.

“Standing behind us at this very present moment is a sacred tomb guarded by some serious seasoned sentinels, who are relentless in ensuring that no one comes near this Tomb of our Unknown Soldier. And while this tomb is sacred (and by the way God knows exactly who is in the tomb behind us) this tomb isn’t Sovereign. This tomb stands to be a witness that the lives of those who served our nation and are now resting, mattered,” he said. “Our presence, purpose and praise here this morning talks about another tomb. (CIGAW).”

Mixing Christian metaphors and military jargon, Harewood divided his message into three distinct portions as he outlined a method for spiritual existence that would assure believers were on the right path to redemption. “My message in capsule for our nation on this Easter Sunday Morning is this,” he said.

Right size your battle space — know, where you stand as a Christian

“Like so many who have found themselves in the wrong battle space where everyone, including the church have written them off, Jesus stopped dying to redeem a condemned sinner. For in that critical act, I believe, Christ knowing what was about to happen on Sunday morning, was telegraphing what was possible to the entire world. “That I may know him and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings,”’ he declared.

Reclaim your spiritual authority — know, your battle weapons systems

“There’s a Hebrew custom which reminds us that if a family lost their property they had to go to a judge, and the book of deeds was consulted because the people had their property recorded there. This was done because it was understood that later on down the line a dependent or family member could come back and redeem the items. However, to do so the family member must have what the Hebrews custom called a ‘Go’el’ that was a person who was related to the family and knows the judge. (Somebody knows where I’m going) right size your battle space. Know, where you stand as a Christian,” he preached.

Building emotional momentum in what was perhaps the most dramatic moment of his sermon, Harewood graphically recounted each of Christ’s disciples’ trials and deaths after his crucifixion, making the point that these men were willing not only to live for Christ’s principles but to die for them as well.

He challenged the listening audience to ponder not just what was worth living for, but what was worth dying for.

Relish in the promise of your prize — know, that you’ve been redeemed 

“We attack each other by our history, but the enemy he attacks you by your destiny. God has a Purpose a Plan and Platform for your life,” he said.

“Sitting in the beautiful amphitheater, watching the sky brighten as the sun rose. Hearing the inspirational music by the brass quintet and chorus truly made this Easter special,” said Krista Kennaugh, a Family member who watched in person with her Family. “I was surrounded by my Family, worshipping the risen Christ and receiving the hope he offers in uncertain times. The service was well-organized and thoughtfully arranged to bring glory to our risen king.”