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Evalgelical Lutheran Church in America Northeastern Ohio Synod
Letters from Pastor Alan Smearsoll

April 2018

He is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! Sure feels good to proclaim these words once again after the long period of Lent. Did you know that we get the word “Easter” from the Greek “Estar” which literally means “rising sun?” That meaning has great significance only when Easter falls on the first of April. OK, I couldn’t help it – April Fools J!   

We don’t know for sure how we have come to call the day of Resurrection “Easter.” According to my “Worship Wordbook” it could be from the fact that the sun rises in the East (that is not an April Fools joke). What we do know is that the celebration of Christ’s resurrection in the church was originally called “Pasch” which is from Greek and Hebrew words meaning “passing through.” This word recalls the freeing of the Hebrew slaves in Egypt after the angel of death passed over their homes and their “passing through” the waters of the Red Sea into freedom. Jesus “passed through” death to life. The tall candle by the baptismal font is called the Paschal Candle and is lit throughout the Easter season and for baptisms and funerals.

Have you ever wondered why Easter does not occur on a fixed day every year? Again, from “Worship Wordbook” we have this explanation:  “The earliest date was the same day as the Jewish Passover, the fourteenth day of the Jewish month of Nisan – that is, the first day of the first full moon of spring. According to this calculation, Easter could fall on any day of the week. By A.D. 325, Christians in Rome had adopted the practice of celebrating Easter on the first Sunday after Passover, and the early Church became enmeshed in a great controversy about how the date of Easter should be determined. In A.D. 325, the Council of Nicaea determined that Easter would be celebrated on the first Sunday after 14 Nisan, that is, the Sunday after Passover, which is the Sunday after the first full moon of spring. That practice continued to the present.”

So, blame the movable Passover date for the reason Easter falls on a different day every year. Actually, Jesus celebrated the Passover with his disciples before being crucified, so to celebrate Easter in conjunction with the Jewish Passover does make sense. This year Passover begins on Friday, March 30 and ends Saturday, April 7. Every Sunday worship is to be treated as a “little Easter” celebration, so when we gather for worship we celebrate the resurrection. This is why I have added “He is Risen! He is Risen Indeed!” to the worship service every week, just to remind us as the calendar takes us further and further from the Day of Resurrection, that we are an “Easter People,” a “Resurrection Community.”*

Have a blessed Easter season!

Pastor Alan

*The phrase “Resurrection Community” is not my own. It is a quote I saw and wrote down some time ago and have posted on my computer monitor. Unfortunately, when I wrote it down, I did not write the source so I cannot give credit where credit is due.

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