JOINT BASE MYER-HENDERSON HALL, Va. — Sounds of instruments and songs filled Arlington National Cemetery’s Memorial Amphitheater April 9, as roughly 2,500 people gathered for Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall’s National Military Easter Sunrise Service hosted by the Religious Support Office.
The service began with a prelude by The U.S. Army Band “Pershing’s Own” at 6:15 a.m. followed by the call to worship given by Chaplain (Col.) James Foster, command chaplain for the Joint Task Force -National Capital Region and U.S. Army Military District of Washington. Chaplain (Brig. Gen.) William Green Jr. gave the invocation.
Chaplains across other military branches also played a role in the service. Chaplain (Capt.) David Stroud delivered the responsive reading, and chaplains from the Air Force and Navy gave scripture readings; Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Heather Bodwell, U.S. Air Force chief of personnel budget and readiness, read Jeremiah 31:1-6, and Chaplain (Capt.) Christ Hester, U.S. Navy command chief, read John 20:1-18.
The U.S. Army Band performed two congregation hymns: “Christ the Lord is Risen Today” and “He Lives,” and the Lee University Campus Choir performed “Arise, My Love” and “Midnight Cry.”
The readings and musical selections provided a pretext for U.S. Army chief of chaplains Maj. Gen. Thomas Solhjem’s last Easter message in uniform, which focused on the resurrection of Jesus Christ with three main points: believing, belonging and becoming.
Believing in the resurrection, Solhjem said, is the most critical thing we can do to respond to the empty grave. That belief results in belonging.
“We belong because we have been accepted by Him and because we have been accepted by Him, we can accept others,” he said.
Believing and belonging move together in tandem, Solhjem said in his message.
“You who believe also belong,” he said.
Solhjem said he has seen each of the three elements of his message play out in his own life. When he was a specialist stationed in Germany, he was introduced to a chaplain who brought him to a place of belief in Christ and sense of belonging.
The chaplain Solhjem referred to in his message lit a path for him to realize there was something he needed to become and a specific journey he needed to take in life.
“I’ve seen a lot of changes in our military and in our society for my 49 years (of military service), but what hasn’t changed is the faithfulness of Jesus Christ in my life,” Solhjem said. “I will be, as we say in the Army, a Soldier for life, but I will proudly be a child of God forever.”
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