This is your Sunday Sermonette! A blog reader e-mailed and asked if there was going to be one today since I have not posted one lately. I hadn’t planned on it, but why not? There is a pandemic, we’re all quarantined, my 70″ television in the great room stopped working yesterday and I have to go to basement and that TV if I want mindless entertainment – too much info – and so here goes:

I celebrated Easter last Sunday, April 12. Friends of mine are celebrating Easter today, April 19. Why can’t we all figure it out?

The Greek Orthodox Church, along with other jurisdictions, adopted the “New Calendar”, the Revised Julian Calendar, which is nearly the same as the Gregorian Calendar (introduced by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582) that most of the world uses (The Revised Julian calendar will deviate from the Gregorian calendar in the year 2800, don’t hold your breath). The Russian Orthodox Church, along with other jurisdictions, retained the “Old Calendar”, the Julian Calendar, which is 13 days behind.

Are you with me so far?

In the Early Christian Church, the Quartodecimens celebrated Easter or Pascha on the 14th day of the lunar month of Nisan, regardless of which day of the week it fell on. Others celebrated it based on the Jewish calendar, but the Jewish calendar had been corrupted after the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem–not having a geographic center with which to connect the harvest to the Passover. The Jews also changed their calendar in the fourth century to have all possible dates of the Passover in the month of March.

Hang in there.

It didn’t make sense to have Christians depend on the Jews to determine the date of Easter/Passover, but neither did it make sense for them to celebrate it on different dates. There is that constant push and pull.

Some who read this blog feel that the First Council of Nicaea (convened in 325 AD in what is now Iznik, Turkey) was a sacred event. I differ, but I don’t want to fight about that while we’re hashing out what day Easter should be celebrated on. One ecumenical war at a time.  In a sense we’re like characters in Gulliver’s travels trying to decide which end to open the (Easter) egg. The large end or the small end. In any event, the Council declared that the calculation should be independent of the Jewish calendar and should be universally celebrated on the same day, but left a loophole into which the Greek Church stepped. It has to do with feast days and I can’t keep them straight.

Then there is the matter of the pagan holiday of Ishtar (Easter) that came along as part of a celebration of spring (eggs, chicks, bunnies and clay statues of pregnant women), and the Roman Emperor Constantine, who ruled at the time of the First Council of Nicaea, wanted to insure that everyone celebrated Ishtar/Easter and Passover on the same day so that we could all get along. And you can see for yourself how all that worked out.

So, Happy Easter – again. Human beings have been hashing it out for 2020 years now and I expect that we will continue to do that for some time to come.

12 COMMENTS

  1. I like the temporal confusion.

    With luck, given enough time, every day of the year will be a Holiday, which suits me fine!

    It’ll be kinda like now, only hopefully they’ll let me get a haircut and visit a bar.
    -Kle.

  2. I sort of like it since I’m spitting distance to an Antiochian Orthodox church, so I do sort of feel like I get two Easters. I use to attend their after Easter dinner (after Easter vigil) – fabulous food even at 2 in the morning.

    • They do some marvelous things with roast lamb.

      I learned to love Greek cooking when I was in Greece, and the priests on Mount Athos are magicians when it comes to wonderful cooking. Friends of mine from Crete are in San Diego celebrating Easter with roast lamb. I would have driven there food first, company second if not for this miserable plague.

  3. Its funny how these secondary church doctrines tend to get folks lost in the weeds, everyone’s the authority…like God cares about what day we honor Easter.

    Easy-peasy solution…celebrate Easter – The Resurrection – everyday. No quarrel on dates then. (hehe)

    Then again, here in the northern Rockies it doesn’t matter what day Easter is celebrated, could be June…it’ll be cold and snowy regardless. Now is very different than Springtime in PA growing up when the flowers were in full bloom by then and it was warm going to Easter service (altho I preferred Palm Sunday because you got to keep something from church to mess with your siblings in the car on the way home.)

    • August is nice in the San Juans.

      Yeah, my brother and I stripped down the palm fronds and made swords out of them.

  4. “It didn’t make sense to have Christians depend on the Jews to determine the date of Easter/Passover…” Why? Is it not the celebration of an event in the life of a Jewish man?

    I guess I confuse easily.
    Paul L. Quandt

    • I agree, but it was a power thing. That’s why you have people deciding those dates for themselves, and convincing others of this or that. You could go with the original date of crucifixion. The date of Passover in 33 AD can reliably be determined. Likewise the date of Christ’s birth can reliably be determined 33 years before that (also at Passover because that’s when the census was taken and tax was collected in the Roman Province of Judea). But tradition has changed things. I honestly don’t care when we celebrate Christmas. December 25 works.

  5. Thanks for the informative homily. The Easter date caused great furor at one time and doesn’t now, fortunately. But are you really against the Martyr Council? I know you’re not an Arian. Speaking of which, Arius and Athanasius met in the baths at Constantinople, according to legend. The heresiarch exclaimed, “Don’t you know who I am?” Athanasius replied, “I know who you are. Satan’s grandson.”

    I’ve always liked that.

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