Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Calendar Games

Here's a riddle for you.

Last year it fell on April 20, five full days earlier than the latest day it could ever fall. This year it falls right in the middle, on April 5. Next year it will fall on March 27, five days after the earliest date it could possibly fall, which is March 22.

What is "it"?

(By the way, the last time it fell on March 22 was way back in 1818 when my great, great, grandpappy was just a baby and there were only 20 states in the Union. The next time it falls on March 22 will be 2285, when my great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great grandson will be serving on the original mission of the Starship Enterprise (under Captain Kirk, of course).

In case you're wondering, we're talking about Easter.

Did you ever wonder why Easter is a movable festival that falls on a different date every year? Blame it on the moon. More specifically, blame it on the moon-based Israelite calendar (ours is sun-based). Good Friday and Easter are always linked to the Jewish feast of Passover because that is the meal Jesus shared with His disciples in the upper room the night He was betrayed. He was the Passover Lamb who was sacrificed at the full moon when the other Passover lambs were being slaughtered for the feast.

Since Passover falls around the full moon of the first month of the Jewish calendar, Easter always falls on the first Sunday after that first full moon after the spring equinox.

The winter's last full moon fell last Thursday, March 5. If you have a clear night tonight, you'll see the moon waning, shrinking away until March 20, when it again becomes a new moon. After that it will begin growing until it is the Paschal (Passover) full moon on Saturday, April 4 -- the day before Easter.

So now you know more than you ever wanted to about the calendar games that go into determining the date for Easter.

But that brings me to the moon, which stands at the center of this. When the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit placed it in the sky, along with the sun and stars, the Lord said, "Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years" (Genesis 1:14).

That makes me wonder, as Passover drew near and Jesus knew His days were drawing short, did He lift His eyes to the "lesser light that rules the night"? Did He watch the "hour glass" go by -- knowing when His moon became full again, it would be time for the cross -- and the empty tomb?

This time of year that's what I do. Each night I look up at the moon and get a very somber feeling as I watch it wane then wax again. Because the next time it becomes full, we will remember our Savior's loving sacrifice as He laid down His life for the world. And three days later we will celebrate His glorious victory when He took up that life again on the third day -- the first Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox.

All this talk about the sun and the moon speaks to how God's hand and purpose is in so many things -- even things we don't ordinarily think about. We welcome your perspective on the matter. You can give it to us by clicking here.

1 comment :

The Layman said...

A very good read indeed even perhaps a keeper for next year also.