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Easter comes early this year

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By The Staff

The dating of Easter is something of a complicated and confusing thing; (depending on whether one uses the Gregorian calendar or the Julian calendar, and how conversant one is with the timing of the Paschal Full Moon, the first Sunday after which is officially Easter, assuming that it coincides somewhat with the first Ecclesiastical Full Moon after March 20, which happened to be the vernal equinox in AD 325, the year the Council of Nicea addressed the issue.) Sort of takes all the fun out of it, huh?One may find it more advantageous simply to consult one’s Day-Timer. Someone has already done the calculations and highlighted the pertinent dates, beginning with Mardi Gras (especially important in Louisiana, because Fat Tuesday is the occasion of a school holiday there), Ash Wednesday and the subsequent Lenten season, right on up to Easter.It’s Easter, again: stores gear up with greeting cards and wicker baskets filled with that green, plastic “grass” (which, when inevitably disbursed by the wind, is the only green to be found in an otherwise brown landscape.) Children are astir with visions of wildly colored eggs and of a large pink (or yellow) bunny dancing in their heads.It’s Easter, again: for lots of folks that means dinner with the family, working in the yard, and reveling in the sights, sounds and smells of spring. Many people find their way to church: Easter Sunday tends to be the most highly-attended worship event of the year.For Christians, the event commemorated on this day is essentially what the faith is all about. The story of the passion and resurrection of Jesus is the focus of all four Gospels. The narrative of each of these biblical writers moves inexorably with Jesus toward the cross and the resurrection as He approached Jerusalem during that Passover season. The Gospel writers barely mention Christmas—Jesus’ birth receives only brief treatment from Matthew and Luke. His death and resurrection, on the other hand, formed the locus classicus of the burgeoning faith.The first Christians were utterly convinced of the bodily resurrection of Jesus. They were witnesses to an unexpectedly empty tomb. Many of them recounted seeing Jesus in the flesh. These same witnesses, theretofore cowering and confused, were transformed by this experience into undaunted heralds of the Good News who were willing to speak even in the face of persecution and the threat of death. Their certitude that He who had claimed to be “the Resurrection” (John 11:25) had truly been raised from the dead was revolutionary. They heard in an entirely new way many things Jesus had taught about faith and forgiveness, love and salvation, and peace between God and man. A brand new community grew up around this common faith as believers came to understand more fully what it meant not only to love God but neighbor as well.Christ-followers today hold to the same message: Jesus, the Christ, lives today and is not buried in a tomb somewhere on the outskirts of the Holy City. This is the “good news:” God broke the grip of death and offers an answer to the hopelessness and brokenness of the human experience. “In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead...” (I Peter 1:3). It’s Easter, again: it does seem early this year. The vast commercialization of the season with the ubiquitous eggs and bunnies is here . . . again. More importantly for Christians (and Christians believe, for the whole world), here again is another opportunity to paint with broad strokes and bright colors, on a very public palette, a portrait of the outlandish, incomprehensible work of God in the world.Here again is an invitation to consider what this work of resurrection might mean for any person who is seeking grace for life’s journey and unfailing hope for the future.