Go back to normal view
We’re in Lent. But before the end of the month it will be Easter. So this “letter from Janet” covers two very different emotional registers and sets of spiritual practices: the solemnity, self-examination and self-denial of Lent and the rejoicing, celebration and “feasting” of Easter. We are here and preparing to be there.
Part of my regular reading is the Church Times. It’s a weekly newspaper that reports on and explores issues and events relevant to church life in the UK and around the world. A comment in the issue of the 5th February really amused me. Robert Mackley, the Vicar of Little St Mary’s, Cambridge wrote: ‘Have you ever noticed how Easter always seems early or late? … I have never thought to myself, “Ah, yes, it’s about time we came to Easter.” It is never on time: it is always too early, or terribly late.’, which so echoes my own response to the date of Easter that it made me laugh out loud.
For those who don’t know, the simple version of the calculation of the date of Easter Sunday in the Western Church goes like this: it is the first Sunday after the first full moon that is on or after the Spring equinox, which is set at March 21st for church purposes. The reasons for this calculation have their roots in the lunar calendar of the Jewish faith and the fact that the Gospel accounts tell us that Jesus’ death and resurrection took place at the time of the Jewish Passover. It means that the earliest Easter can be is March 22nd, which happened most recently in 1818, and the latest it can be is April 25th, which last happened in 1943. Closer to us, you might remember that Easter was on March 23rd in 2008 and April 24th in 2011. It can be either “too early” or “very late” – or somewhere in between!
But, when we think about it, what is “early” or “late” in relation to Easter? It always comes after Lent and Holy Week. And Lent lasts for 40 days (there’s another discussion to be had there, but no room to have it this month) so there’s time to get used to the idea! The traditions of the Church establish spiritual practices for each season. Both are important. Both are designed to help us to grow in the understanding of our faith and our love for God. Wouldn’t it be good if we could encourage each other to “be” in the season where we are, to value the solemnity, self-examination and self-denial, however expressed, of Lent and to enjoy whole-heartedly the rejoicing, celebration and feasting of Easter?
I’m setting out to try to recognise where I am and to experience it fully, while being ready to value the next season when it comes along. Something to aim for?
God Bless, Janet