March 30, 2016 --
Despite the threat of thunderstorms, which were predicted for the Albany area, a number of parishioners assembled, here, at Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany’s Chapel of the Good Shepherd for Easter Sunrise Service, March 27.
Lt. Cmdr. Erskine Alvis, officiating chaplain, Headquarters and Support Battalion, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, stood at the entrance to the main sanctuary and greeted attendees as they arrived for the early morning service.
“He is risen; He is risen indeed,” were the opening words the chaplain spoke, as the crowd responded in unison to the call to worship.
“It is great to celebrate Easter this morning,” Alvis said. “To celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and to give thanks to God for the bounty of gifts he gives us; and, to move forward as we begin another year in which we give thanks to God for what he has done. With this word of celebration, this word of resurrection, I invite you to join with me in this call to worship.”
Alvis’ message contained several points related to the significance of the events leading up to the crucifixion and the resurrection of Jesus, which he highlighted and reemphasized.
“The empty cross is the symbol of life over death,” he explained. “The empty tomb and the empty cross both mean the same thing. The fact (for us) as Christians is God brought his son here and sins were crushed for ours sakes; (Jesus) brings us back into a relationship with God through his ultimate sacrifice.”
In addition to the worship service, Alvis said he had been on the installation for “Holy Week;” had “conducted resiliency training for the Marines” as well as officiated a Good Friday service at the chapel.
“Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany does not have its own chaplain,” Alvis pointed out. “So, Marine Corps Installations East, (Camp Lejeune, North Carolina,) is providing a chaplain (here) one week each month.
“I came here for Holy Week,” he concluded. “I came to offer a Good Friday service and stayed through the weekend for Easter – the most important celebration for Christians. I offered Easter Sunrise service to many who may not otherwise get to those services.”
Sonja Scott, program assistant, Maintenance Management Center, Marine Corps Logistics Command, who came to the service with her sons, discussed her purpose for attending.
“This morning, we’re here to celebrate the resurrection of Christ,” Scott said. “I brought my two sons with me and we’re just enjoying the fellowship and (the fact of) the chapel being opened today. The empty cross and the empty tomb represents to me, hope. What Mary Magdalene saw -- that the tomb was empty that (Jesus) was risen – is a message of hope and that God is in control.”
After the sermon, the congregation was led outside, in front of the chapel, for closing remarks and the benediction after which those in attendance were invited to stay after the service for fellowship and refreshments.