Last updated 4/3/2008 at Noon
If you’re anything like me, you have a hard time keeping track of when Easter falls from year to year. Some years it’s at the end of April – and then others it gets packed in with Saint Patrick’s Day!
Making it even more confusing, in other parts of the world Christians follow a totally different schedule altogether. I discovered this some years back when I celebrated Easter twice in the same year – once here in the United States, and then seven days later in Eastern Europe. Christians there follow the Orthodox calendar for Easter, which can vary by up to five weeks from our date.
There actually is a long and complicated history for calculating the date for Easter. Early on, some Christians thought it should be linked with the Jewish Passover, which would have kept it on the same day of the month but traveling to different days of the week (like Christmas, which is always on December 25). Others thought that Easter should always land on a Sunday (like Thanksgiving is always on a Thursday). But even with the top leaders of the Western Church working together, no formula was universally accepted for calculating the date until 600 years after the resurrection took place! And to this day, the Eastern Church still doesn’t agree.
The fact is that the very earliest Christians probably did not think of the Resurrection as a yearly celebration at all. In the first days of the church, it was such a significant part of their life and faith that they considered every single Sunday to be Resurrection Day – one day in seven, to remember that “Christ is Risen Indeed” and that the first day of God’s new creation has begun in us.
The point is that there is nothing inherently sacred about the particular day for celebrating the Resurrection. It’s a really great tradition… but still just a tradition, like many other parts of our spiritual expression. The specific date was never the point.
The point for believers is that Jesus Christ died for our sins – and that means we stand forgiven every day of the year. The point is that Jesus Christ rose again – and that means we can live in resurrection power 24/7!
“The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as he raised Christ from the dead, he will give life to your mortal body by this same Spirit living within you.” (Romans 8:11)
The true mark of Christian faith is Resurrection People and not merely a Resurrection Day. The true mark is people who celebrate Christ and live transformed lives as an everyday reality.