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Is Easter tardy?

By   /   April 7, 2011  /   Comments

Despite all of the admonitions from mothers everywhere to rise and shine, or that the early bird gets the worm, sometimes great things happen more late than early. That can be said this year for Easter. Easter 2011 will be celebrated at an unprecedented late date. Let me explain …

The date for Easter in Western churches has been set based on when the full moon crosses the celestial equator since the year 326 AD. This is the date when day and night are equal in length everywhere. Easter Sunday can fall from March 22 to April 25. This year it will be April 24. Easter has not been celebrated on the 24th since 1859! What is even more significant is that it will only occur this late on the calendar twice in again in the next 150 years.

Since Lent is the season of preparation for Easter that begins 46 days before Easter, we celebrated Ash Wednesday on the 9th of March. We observe Lent for 40 Days, taking the Sundays off from our sacrificing because the Church believes that every Sunday is like a little Easter, where we worship and proclaim the Risen Christ.

Which raises a question. How many of us think about our faith in terms of needing to prepare for something? Don’t most of us think about faith as something we just do, or our belief in Jesus’ Resurrection as something from the past? It is true that faith is the conviction of things not seen (Hebrews 11). But, Paul also writes that we are to work on our salvation (Philippians 2) as though it was a process of grace and not something attained in a moment. Faith that leads to salvation is both an unseen reality that cannot be grasped with our hands as well as a destination that we are journeying toward.

The further I travel along in life and in ministry, the more I am convinced that God’s best desires for us are that we would not stop. We are encouraged to “press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3).” For some of us, this is news. We have for too long lived as though our best days with Jesus happened once long ago and will not happen again for some time. I believe they should be happening right now, too. I believe we are called to be the church that is seeking after Jesus in the present.

May we be those who are preparing for the great days ahead, whether they come sooner or later, and may we continue the Lenten journey toward Easter …

Former Albany resident Scott Hagan is pastor of Epworth United Methodist Church in Columbus, Ga. He served until 2007 as associate pastor of First United Methodist Church in Albany, where helped to oversee missions and the young adult and contemporary worship ministries.

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Tom Knighton is the publisher of The Albany Journal. In November, 2011, he became the first blogger to take over a newspaper anywhere in the world. In August of 2012, he made the difficult decision to take the Journal out of print circulation and become an online news agency, a first for the Albany area.

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