Commentary: Date for Easter a moving target, but message stands test of time
Easter is the most revered day in Christianity. It is the observance of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Yet it is unique among holidays in that it has no set date on the calendar, other than a guarantee it will fall on a Sunday.
Christmas, on the other hand, which celebrates the birth of Jesus, always has and always will be observed on Dec. 25, whether it falls on a Sunday or not.
While the Bible is a treasure trove of examples of how we should, and should not, live our lives, it fails to pin down the dates for when events such as the birth and death of Jesus Christ actually occurred. Some Bible scholars will tell you, for example, that Jesus was born on Jan. 6. Others contend it happened in the spring, on May 2. For most of us, Dec. 25 works just fine.
Easter, at least in Western Christianity based on the Gregorian Calendar, is always celebrated on the Sunday immediately following the Paschal Full Moon, or anywhere between March 22 and April 25. Eastern Orthodox churches count days and months on something called the Julian Calendar, so they have another whole set of standards to determine the date Easter is observed.
Pretty confusing, huh?
The fact of the matter is that no one can be absolutely certain of the date that Jesus was born, when he died, or was resurrected. That any of it is even true is a matter of faith, that abstract quality of “being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1)
What cannot be denied, though, is that for more than 2,000 years Christians worldwide celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ on this rotating holiday we call Easter.
Without Jesus’ resurrection from death, there would be no basis for Christianity, or Easter. Without the resurrection, Jesus would be just another man. Christianity would be a social club. Easter would be a holiday about an imaginary oversized bunny that hides eggs for kids.
There may be confusion over when Easter occurs each year, but there is no mistake about why it is observed.
Jesus’ message, His story, continues to stand the test of time.