April this year brings us to the Christian season of Eastertide. This season lasts seven Sundays. It begins with Easter Sunday and ends with the day of Pentecost. The Sundays are referred to as Sundays after Easter. The liturgical color is white, which is the color of Christ and represents His purity.
The exact date of Jesus’ resurrection is known and was well remembered. It was the fourteenth day of the Jewish month of Nisan. However due to the change from the Jewish calendar based on the lunar month (movement of the moon) to our modern calendar based on the solar year (movement of the sun) it is hard to known exactly what that date now is. Scholars agree that it falls somewhere between March 29th and April 3rd.
The church soon recognized the importance of gathering on the Lord’s Day to celebrate Christ’s resurrection. For awhile they rested on the Jewish Sabbath, the last day of the week, and worshipped on the Lord’s Day, the first day of the week. As more and more gentiles joined the church, the importance of Sabbath observation decreased and the importance of Sunday worship increased. Soon Sunday celebration became the norm and Sunday was seen as the most important day of the week.
So rather than celebrating Easter on the same date each year, as we do Christmas and our birthdays, which means a different day of the week each year, the church set the Sunday nearest Nisan fourteenth as Easter. Soon trouble developed. Some people wanted the Sunday before the date to be recognized as Easter while other insisted that the Sunday after the date was the “true Easter.”
So in 664 A.D. the Synod of Whitney fixed the date of Easter permanently. This really was a great compromise as it involved both the lunar calendar folks and the solar calendar people. Easter s: the first Sunday after the first Full Moon (lunar calendar) after the Spring Equinox (solar calendar). It can fall anytime between March 22nd (if the Full Moon and Equinox both fall on Saturday March 21st) until April 25th. This year Easter was in March which is fairly early.
So remember that each Sunday as we gather we are celebrating a “little Easter” as we remember the Lord’s resurrection and the fact that we serve a “Risen Savior.” Hope to see you in church not just for the Sunday of Eastertide but each and every Sunday of the entire year.