April 2017 Newsletter
When is Easter this year? Well...it depends. Easter is a moveable Holy day, unlike
Christmas which is always on December 25. Easter can be as early as March 22 and as
late as April 25, at least in Western Christianity. In the Eastern Church (Greek and
Russian Orthodox, for example), things are a little different. Here’s why...
In 325 A.D. Constantine, who was the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, convened the
Council of Nicaea. Among the business before the council was to establish a uniform
date for Easter. Out of the discussion and debate came the “Easter Rule,” setting Easter on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox.
As is often the case with church councils, the decision was not unanimous. The Eastern bishops wanted to schedule Easter in conjunction with the Jewish Festival of Passover since, after all, Jesus went to Jerusalem, in the first place, to celebrate Passover. The Western bishops preferred a date corresponding with the beginning of spring, because that was the time already established for a lot of pagan celebrations, and they figured to
capitalize on the momentum. This is why, to this date, we have such things as the Easter Bunny and colored eggs associated with Easter.
Well, on this, and other issues, the church eventually split. To this day, we who are descendants of the Western line of Christendom, use a different calendar than the Eastern Orthodox churches. Sometimes our celebration of Easter falls on the same day, and sometimes it varies by as much as five weeks!
Now that was probably more than you wanted to know, but let me ask you the question again...When is Easter this year?
Today! Easter is today. And not just today as in March 23 (the day I’m writing this), or April 16 which is what the calendar tells us Easter falls on this year. You see, Easter isn’t so much a date on the calendar as a date with the living God. Easter was...but Easter is. Easter was when Jesus was raised from the dead. We’re not even sure what date that was. But Easter is each time Christ is raised in your heart or mine and we raise our
praise in response.
Happy Easter today!