Home Faith Higher Ground The “Moveable” Date of Easter from Pastor David Feddern

Higher Ground The “Moveable” Date of Easter from Pastor David Feddern

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The “Moveable” Date of Easter

Many people have asked why Easter was so early this year (Sunday, March 31st) and how the Church determines when The Resurrection of Our Lord should be celebrated.  In Western Christianity, Easter is always celebrated on the Sunday immediately following the Paschal Full Moon date of the year.  

The ancient Jews used a lunar calendar month to determine the Feast of the Passover. God first directed this in Exodus 12, “Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats, and you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month when the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill their lambs at twilight.”

After the Great Schism in 1054 AD, Christians were split into two main factions—the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church.  Western Christianity has since adopted the following formula to determine the date of Easter:

  • Easter Day is always the Sunday after the full moon that occurs on or after the spring equinox on March 21.   
  • This full moon may happen on any date between March 21 and April 18 inclusive.
  • If the full moon falls on a Sunday, Easter Day is the Sunday following.
  • Easter Day cannot be earlier than March 22 or later than April 25.
  • Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, falls in the seventh week before Easter. 
  • The Ascension of Our Lord occurs on a Thursday, forty days after Easter Day.
  • The Day of Pentecost is seven weeks, or the fiftieth day, after Easter Day.

Even though the date of our Easter celebration changes each year, one thing always remains constant, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8). His resurrection from the grave defeated our ancient foes of sin, death, and the power of Satan once-and-for-all. Those who believe in Jesus now live in the hope and promise of eternal life with Him in heaven, as He promises us in John 14: 

“14 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:1-6, ESV)

He is Risen! He is Risen, Indeed!  Alleluia!

Pastor David A. Feddern

Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church-Hampton (LCMS)