Quick, look at your calendar.
Easter is just a few days away. Passover is … a month away?
How can a resurrection that occurred on the Sunday following Passover manage to be celebrated a month before Passover? Did someone drop a glass calendar and fail to get all the broken pieces back in the right order?
No, it’s worse than that.
Someone decided we didn’t need Passover to celebrate the Resurrection.
Different cultures have used different calendars for different eras of time. The Mayan Calendar, as you’ll recall from the Day the World Kept Spinning, ran out in 2012.
Other calendars keep flipping pages. The Jewish calendar, for instance, says we’re in Year 5775. “Our” calendar says it’s 2016, and as you probably know, that’s an effort to say it’s been 2,016 years since the birth of Jesus.
Unfortunately, the math was wrong and no one really knows when we should celebrate Christmas. We just know Jesus wasn’t born on Dec. 25.
As for our modern-day celebration of Easter, you’ve probably noticed that it will coincide with Passover only by sheer accident. Last year, both events landed on the same weekend. This year? Nearly a full month separates them.
The answer lies with something called the “Gregorian” calendar, or as we like to put it, “The Calendar.” Every time you’ve plugged a date into a web site form or written it on a check, you’ve gone with the Gregorian date. Your iCalendar is Gregorian. That family calendar your daughter makes for the front of the refrigerator is Gregorian.
The Gregorian manner for calculating the right date of Easter involves the spring equinox, a full moon, and every fourth year, Groundhog day. I’m making part of this up, but if you want to do the homework, you’re only a click or so away from Wikipedia.
The real story is that one of the first decisions The Church ever made was to divorce Christianity from Judaism.
Nothing is ever that simple, of course, for there was also a complex collection of pagan holidays that needed to be eliminated. As the Roman empire made a shift from paganism to Christianity, the appointed church leaders did their best to eliminate the pagan holidays and establish “Christian” holy days.
This is why Christmas falls on Dec. 25, thus replacing the celebration of the winter solstice. And in the complex history of Christianity as a political force, words used to commemorate the Resurrection were blurred with words used to honor a pagan fertility goddess named “Eostre.” All in all, it’s not nearly as simple as the anti-“Easter” folks would like us to believe, but there’s no doubt that the connection between the “Christian” celebration of the Resurrection was intentionally separated from the Jewish observance of Passover.
And don’t forget, Jesus-followers from the last 17 centuries didn’t have Wikipedia.
No kidding. All they knew was what they had been given. Now we seem to be overwhelmed with information and for the first time in Christian history can ask why the two celebrations are still separated. You can also take matters into your own hands.
If you like, celebrate the Resurrection on the Sunday after this year’s Passover. You’ll be a month behind almost every church in the world, but at least you’ll be “right,” no?
Or if you prefer, do what the first followers of Jesus did.
Celebrate it every day.