When is Easter? This is a question that returns every year, ant it can be puzzling, for it is not happening on a set date.

Easter is a movable feast. It is linked to the Jewish festival of Passover, since Jesus was arrested, tried, and crucified at the time of Passover. Passover, according to the Jewish calendar falls on the 14th of the Hebrew month Nisan (Leviticus 23:5). But the Jewish calendar is based on the movement of the moon, and dates are calculated according to its the movement.

For the Western Christian Churches, like the Roman Catholics and Protestants that use the Gregorian calendar Easter is on the first Sunday following full moon after the spring equinox (21st March). So, Easter can be on any date between the 22nd of March and the 25th of April.

However, for the Eastern Christian churches, like the Orthodox Churches, which use the Julian calendar, most of the time Easter falls on a different date, usually one-two weeks apart from Western Christianity. This year our Orthodox brothers and sisters will celebrate Easter on the 24th April.

In Transylvania, where ethnic Romanians (most of them Orthodox) and ethnic Hungarians and Germans (most of them Roman Catholics or Protestant) live together, two Easters are celebrated in most years!

Easter happens not necessarily when it is in the calendar but when someone meets the risen Lord!  

Trying to answer with precision the question ‘When is Easter?’ is not that simple. Easter can be at different dates. For the women that went to the tomb at dawn on the first day of the week after the crucifixion Easter happened right there as they met the risen Lord.  For the disciples that fearfully gathered in the upper room in the evening of that same day, Easter happened as the risen Lord appeared to them and greeted them: ‘Peace to you!’ For Thomas, who missed that, it was a week later.  For the disciples travelling to Emmaus Easter happened on the road.  For Peter the meaningful Easter when he was liberated by the risen Lord’s forgiveness Easter happened on the beach of the Galilean Sea (John 21). Easter happens not necessarily when it is in the calendar but when someone meets the risen Lord!  The Apostle Paul had his Easter on the road to Damascus! You can meet the risen Lord anytime, anywhere!  He comes to you at the right time! That is the majestic joy of Easter!

Experiencing Easter is not tied to a location, or a date, or a set time!  An atheist architect met the risen Lord when he was sent to survey a listed church building. He arrived as a wedding was in progress, so he quietly took a seat at the back of the church. But the words that he heard being preached by the minister touched his life so profoundly that he experienced the wonder of Easter right there and then.  The love of God surrounded him, His forgiveness overwhelmed his soul, the majesty and the power of the risen Lord simply arrested his whole being.  The architect returned home as a changed man.  He had his first real Easter there.

I don’t know if you experienced Easter like that before. This year it is on the 17th of April (just in case if you didn’t know). May you have the Easter experience of Peter and the disciples, and that of the architect, whether on the 17th of April or not that doesn’t matter.  What really matters is that you have your own, personal encounter with the risen Lord!  That you have your own Easter!

May the blessing and the grace of the risen Lord Jesus Christ fill your heart and life with joy, strength, and peace!  Happy Easter!

[from GV]

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