The original title for this post was “Reflections on Easter.” However, after I finished it, I got to thinking that this was actually a good introduction/lead-in to my next post – which is already written (part two), but I’m saving that one for Easter Sunday. So, if you’re a little confused about what relevance this post has to Pelagius and Augustine and the debate over Christian freedom, just hang in there until Sunday. Hopefully, it will all become a bit clearer, lol.
Oester is the old German word from where we got “Easter.” Oester was a, dare I say it, very ancient pagan celebration of spring. It usually occurred around the vernal equinox. Many of the secular traditions we Americans use to celebrate Easter, came to us through our ancient barbarian pagan ancestors. Just as it is for Christians, the holiday for pagans was a time of great joy. After all, winter was over and spring was here! The days were getting longer. The grass was green and the trees were budding. How could one not be happy and joyous when that happens?
One of the things that Christians during the dark ages and the middle ages did that irritates me is that they messed with the calendar. They added months. They changed months. They changed the dates for holidays to suit God knows who or what agenda, other than perhaps someone’s oversized ego. The early Christians, and I mean the really early Christians, used the Jewish lunar calendar-13 months. Several centuries later, the Roman Christians tried to synchronize the Julian/Augustine calendar with the Jewish lunar calendar. That did not work well as our current calendar shows.
Gregory the Great altered the Roman calendar and gave us the Gregorian calendar, which is pretty much what we still use. There have been some relatively minor adjustments over the last 1500 years, but all in all we use the Gregorian calendar. To try and mesh various calendars, Pope Gregory added a few days to the year, taking us from 360 days with a five-day period of celebration following the end of the year and before the start of the new year, two of a year of 365 days. However, astronomers have shown over the centuries that our journey around the sun, which takes a year, is not exactly 365 days… It is 365 ¼ days long. That is why, obviously, we have a leap year every fourth year.
Trying to calculate the date for Easter has been a source of great controversy. Eastern orthodox Christians celebrate Easter on a different date than we do. So do, I believe, the Coptic Christians. The only thing we really know about Easter as far as the date is concerned is that Jesus was crucified on the Friday or the beginning of Passover. We are not even sure of the exact year that the crucifixion took place: somewhere around 30 or 33 A.D. we actually have more precise information about the date for Easter – the crucifixion – then we do for Christmas – the Nativity. From what I have read on the research on that date, Jesus more than likely was born sometime in the early spring, not late winter. The evidence for that is references in the Gospels about how the shepherds were watching over their newborn lambs. Lambs and kids (baby goats) are born around late February or early March. I know this for a fact because I have raised goats. If there were baby sheep or baby goats being watched over by shepherds, that means it was around the time of the Vernal Equinox rather than the winter solstice. Like Easter, Christmas dating has little to do with the actual dates for events in Jesus’ life and more to do with the conversion of the barbarian pagans of Europe. Sorry if that offends anyone, but if you do your research yourself, you will see I speak the truth. (Whatever that is, lol!)
If Christians cannot agree on the date for the crucifixion or the Nativity, how do they expect people to take the Gospels seriously? We Christians tend to criticize Muslims because of their sectarian splits dating back to the death of Mohammed. For those of you who were unfamiliar with Islam, it has two major branches – Shiite and Sunni. The argument came over who would succeed Mohammed. The Shiites supported Ali, the husband of Fatima, Mohammed’s daughter. The Sunni supported someone else (look up the name of the first Caliph). He, rather than Ali, has been recognized by most Muslims as the first Caliph. Muslims are still fighting over that succession 1500 years later. We Christians have been fighting over the date of Easter for that long if not longer. As Jesus said, do not look to remove the speck from your brother’s eye until you have removed the log from your eye, or something very close to that. It is amazing the hypocrisy that is fostered by the Judeo-Christian-Islamic tradition. We seem to forget that we are all the children of Abraham, people of The Book, and most importantly, the children of God/Allah/Jehovah or whatever other name you choose to use for him or her. (No sexist tradition here! lol)
I think we need to stop fighting over our differences and stop trying to convert each other to one or the other or the other(no, that is not a typo. The duplication is intentional). Let’s focus on what we share in common(which is a great deal). If we do that, we might actually see the manifestation of the kingdom of God on earth.