From the Rectory
March 2008

Easter is approaching fast now, but have you ever stopped and wondered why it is that we celebrate Easter on different dates each year? The custom dates back to the days of the very earliest Christians: In those first years it was not kept every year on the same day. Because Christ died and rose again during the Passover period, many observed Easter on that festival, keeping Passover as their ancestors had done before them, but seeing how it was illuminated now by a different and new Light.

Others, especially the Gentiles of Western communities, kept it on the Sunday following, remembering that it was on the morning after the Sabbath, 'The first day of the week' that Mary Magdalene saw the risen Lord in the dawn-lit garden and thought he was the gardener.

This difference of custom continued for a long time, and eventually resulted in serious controversies between the Churches of East and West. In AD325, the Council of Nicaea ruled that the festival should be celebrated, not on the Passover which might fall on any day of the week but on the Sunday following the first full moon after (or on) the Vernal Equinox, that Equinox being deemed to occur always on March 21st. and that if the moon happened to be full on a Sunday, then Easter Day should be on the Sunday after that. Thus it is that throughout the West still, the great religious feast of spiritual hope is governed in its date by the spring moon, and can never be earlier than March 22nd or later than April 25th.

This difference in dates causes our schools immense problems as it tries to fit the curriculum into varying term lengths. This year, the schools only have Good Friday and Easter Monday as a holiday and then later they will have two weeks Spring term holiday.

During Holy Week there will be a Meditation on the evenings of Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday at 7.30p.m. On Maundy Thursday there will be a re-enactment of the Last Supper with Communion at 7.30p.m. Please add your name to the list at the back of the Church if you would like to book a meal (This will greatly aid the caterers) - followed by a Vigil 'till 10.00p.m.

On Good Friday there will be the usual Act of Witness in Shirley Precinct with Churches Together in Shirley and an Hour at the Cross from 2.00p.m - 3.00p.m in Church.

Then Parish Communion on Easter Day with an Easter Songs of Praise in the Evening at 6.30p.m.

I hope that you will all have a Happy and God-filled Holy Week Easter.

Yours for Christ's sake.