By CLIVE BUTCHER
Friday 26 February 2021
(IMAGE: NASA- JOEL KOWSKY)
‘You have made the moon to mark the seasons: the sun knows its time for setting’ (v19).
The date of Easter and hence Lent varies from year to year. Unlike Christmas, we celebrate Easter close to the time of the Year when the events unfolded but not always corresponding to the Jewish Passover Festival. Passover is celebrated on the 15th day of the Jewish month of Nissan, at a full Moon (the Jewish calendar being lunar in nature). The first Council of Nicaea in AD 325 determined that Easter should fall on the Sunday following the first full Moon after the Vernal (Spring) Equinox, when hours of light and darkness are the same. This meant that Passover and Lent would not always coincide and the use of the Julian rather than Gregorian calendar is the reason that Eastern Orthodox Christians celebrate on a different day. To further complicate matters the Paschal (Passover) Moon is an ecclesiastical rather than an astronomical full Moon, determined by tables rather than observation! The date of the slightly variable Vernal Equinox is also fixed as March the 21st.
There are calls to fix the date of Easter so that it falls on the same day each year like Christmas but it seems to me that we would lose something if we did so. Apart from a long-standing tradition the changing dates, determined by the Moon are a reminder of who is in control. Psalm 104 details what our Creator God has done and continues to do. We can only marvel and show our gratitude, not least by actively caring for His / our World.
Prayer: As we continue on our Lenten journey, we praise you and give thanks for all you have provided. Amen