Easter is sneaking up on me this year. I have heard many other folks say the same thing. Usually I would chalk up such remarks to our tendency not to pay attention even to very important things, but this year we have an excuse. Easter falls really, really early on the calendar this time around.
Easter can fall on any date between March 22 and April 25. That is because Easter is always celebrated in the Western Church on the Sunday following the Paschal Full Moon, which moves around on the calendar. As I understand it, the church leaders who devised this system many centuries ago were interested in observing Easter at the time of year that most closely approximated the astronomical conditions of the first Easter.
So, the earliest that Easter can occur is March 22, which has not happened since 1818 and will not happen again until 2285. Nobody reading this has or will experience a March 22 Easter.
The last time that Easter fell on March 23, as it will this year, was 1913, so those of you who are 95 or older were around for that one. The next time that Easter will fall on March 23 will be 2160, so none of us will witness that one, either.
Therefore, for the vast majority of us, this March 23 observance of Easter will be a once in a lifetime event.
I have in the past said that I wished that Easter would fall on the same date every year. But this year in which Easter has snuck up on me has caused me to change my mind about that. I have decided that it is a good thing that the date of Easter moves around, causing us to think about it, wonder about it, plan around it, and be caught off guard by it.
After all, that’s the way it ought to be, because that’s the way that it is.
The resurrection of Jesus changed and changes everything. The event itself was unanticipated and unexpected. Nobody was looking for it. Just as some of his followers adjusted to the idea that his body was in the tomb and that they needed to pay their respects, he left it.
The new life that the resurrection of Jesus brings about even now is startling and sometimes—some of you will know what I mean—frightening. Resurrection, new life, hope for the future—they are all, when they grab hold of us, wondrous.
So Easter has snuck up on us this year.
And you never know—it may sneak up on us in some other ways.
I would tell you to watch for it—but maybe God does his most amazing things in us when we are not looking.