Monday, April 18, 2011

Dating Easter

A few weeks ago, we had a “super moon”. It was bright and beautiful. On Sunday, March 20 I saw that moon as we drove to church early while it was still dark. Such a gorgeous moon on the first day of spring. It flashed through my mind mid afternoon as I pondered that moon, no wonder Easter is so late, the moon was full LAST night, so now we wait.

For those who do not know, the formula for the date of Easter goes back to the early church. Easter falls on the first Sunday following the first full moon following the northern hempishere's vernal equinox. TRANSLATION, Easter is always the first Sunday after the first full moon after spring (which is usually March 21.) So Easter is dated anywhere from March 22 through April 25. This year is almost as late as Easter can be since it is April 24.

Now, the dating of Easter is slightly different for the Orthodox Church. Their calendar did not change in the Middle Ages when the Western world changed their calendar to the Gregorian calendar.. So for the Orthodox church Easter lands between April 4 and May 8 each year and always coincides with the Jewish Passover. The Western church’s Easter sometimes is a month earlier than Passover.

Last year, in 2010 and this year in 2011 both the western church and the eastern church share Easter dates. Having Easter fall on the same date two years in a row for both churches is quite unusual. It will not occur again until Easter 2037 and Easter 2038.

I share this information because I am often asked why the date of Easter moves each year. When studying the gospels the one thing that is clear is that the crucifixion occurred around the festival of the Passover. Regardless of the date, Easter is pivotal in the life of the church. Easter is the promise of new life and hope in a world that is often filled with despair and death.

No matter the date, it is a joy for all Christians to celebrate Easter together. Our experience of resurrection is what helps us be the body of Christ in the world. I invite to immerse yourself in all our or another congregaton's Holy Week activities, that in sharing those finals days with Jesus we might experience Life and Life Abundant.

I am as always, Graced to Serve