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Location: Greensboro, NC, United States

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Eastertide

Easter was day before yesterday, and as most Americans (especially Protestants) celebrate Holy Days, Easter ended day before yesterday. But traditionally the Church has recognized the whole period from Easter until Pentecost to be Easter Season, also called Eastertide. Jesus' death fell exactly in line with Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread, as was established by Yahweh in the Jewish calendar as a part of the Mosaic Law. It also fell such that Jesus rose from the dead on the first day of the week, the day after the Sabbath, the typological Eighth Day. This established our celebration of Holy Week, as well as the New Covenant Sabbath, which we call Sunday (Leviticus 23:3-8). Forty days later Jesus ascended to Heaven and took His place on David's throne, from which He now reigns the universe. The Church has traditionally observed that day as Ascension Day. Ten days after his ascension was Pentecost, also called the Feast of Weeks, originally established in the Mosaic Law. In Acts, we are told that the Spirit descended upon the Church during the Feast of Pentecost. And so the Church has historically celebrated Pentecost as the day of its birth. This is the beginning of Ordinary Time, or the Trinity Season, as it is sometimes called. Trinity Season lasts until Advent. The point of all this is to say that we in America tend to observe only part of the Church calendar. The calendar most of us actually observe is a secular calendar, as established by the civil government, a mixture of Christian holidays and state holidays. But the Church is perpetual; no State is. As Alexander Schmemann said, man is by nature liturgical. It is inevitable that we will mark times and seasons. The question is: will we mark them by Redemptive History, or by the false narrative of a Secular History? I think we are wise to prefer the former.

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