Then the ones who pleased the Lord will ask, "When did we give you something to eat or drink? When did we welcome you as a stranger or give you clothes to wear or visit you while you were sick or in jail?"
The King will answer, "Whenever you did it for any of my people, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you did it for me." .......Matthew 25

Saturday, April 4, 2009

The Easter story - Passovers, equinoxes and fertility

So tomorrow we enter into the week leading up to Easter. One of those events that get hard wired into the church calendar. They bill it as the Holy Week.

I am ambivalent. And will probably get into trouble for saying it.

Easter to me has always been another of those pagan festivals that the church tries to christianize. It has its origin in those Spring fertility festivals associated with Ishtar or maybe Eoaster (think of estrus , estrogen, easter eggs). Never made any sense to me.

Jesus never commanded us to observe the festival and there is absolutely no evidence the early church observed the festival. Jesus however commanded that we remember Him through our observances of the passover meal, the bread and the wine. This is the Holy Communion we try and observe as often as we can to remember Him. We don't need to have a festival to do it. We certainly don't need a 'Holy Week' to rehearse His last week before the crucifixion. Very Roman Catholic.

If anything we should celebrate the Jewish passover, because this was the actual occasion of the last supper.

Easter Sunday is empirically set as the first Sunday after the
Paschal Full Moon, which is the first moon whose 14th day (the ecclesiastic "full moon") is on or after March 21 (the ecclesiastic "Spring equinox"). Haha...didn't know that did you? Well neither did I.

What is the Spring equinox? Well, essentially,the equinox is the time of year when the sun is directly above the equator and nights and days are
roughly equally long. Happens twice a the middle of Spring and in the middle of Autumn. In Singapore, all this has very little significance, but in temperate agricultural societies, this is quite a big deal. Their agricultural years tended to begin at the Spring equinox. It is the day when they celebrated the new year, new sun, rebirth, renewals and fertility etc etc. In China this Spring equinox is called Chūnfēn 春分.

Passover on the other hand, being a Spring festival, begins on the night of a full moon after the Spring equinox (about March 20). Passover in 2009 will start on Thursday, the 9th of April and will continue for 7 days until Wednesday, the 15th of April.

In Exodus 12, Moses commanded that this was to be the beginning of months (new year), and what follows after this was the account of the setting apart of a lamb without blemish, and the 'passover' leading eventually to the liberation of the Israelites from the yoke of slavery in Egypt.

Jesus was our passover lamb. By His shed blood, the wrath of God 'passed over' us. We shouldn't be celebrating 'Easter'. Instead, if anything, we should be celebrating the Passover.


left-right said...

Hi Dr. Lee - Thanks for the sharing of thoughts, your piece gives me a different perspective as how I should appreciate the Easter 'holiday' as a non-believer...

edmund jd lee said...

Nice of you to leave a note. Thanks for dropping by. Cheers.