The moon last night reminded me of the Easters when we used to drive in the moonlight on a Thursday night from Gore to Riverton (south coast) for the annual Easter Camp – each year of my pre-teen and teenage years and then later as a youth leader.
It always seemed a mysterious thing that Easter followed the moon – the reason why the date fluctuates from year to year. It reminds us of the deep roots of Easter, for it is tied to the Passover dates which also followed ancient lunar calendars.
Not only has Easter been around for two millennia, before that Passover stretched even more millennia back into the past. Whatever the originating event, once a ritual or re-enactment has happened that many times, it takes on its own ambience and atmosphere, its own gravitas. Pause and consider that these two major festivals for the Jewish and Christian faiths are tied to a natural phenomena. In our carefully and sometimes over-scheduled world, these major events move around our tidy calendars, in and out of school terms, sometimes coinciding with autumn colours in the south, sometimes not. Six weeks ago, Ash Wednesday popped up at the beginning of February, before, it seemed, we were quite ready to think of Lent and Easter, but arrive it did, whether we were ready or not!
So the season is here, with purple drape, towel and basin on Thursday, oil drum stations of the cross on Friday with Palm Sunday’s palms withering on the sanctuary steps, Easter candles ordered from the candlemaker, hangings prepared for the Big Reveal on Easter Day.
Different from the original Easter, (not called that then, of course) which must have been a busy, chaotic, noisy, confusing and traumatic time as the drama unfolded. A world premiere for which no one knew the denouement. Despair and grief the order of the day, not a joyful procession in sight.
Easter is a mystery. I wish I could satisfy post-Enlightenment minds with logical chapter and verse. Even now in our secularised society, the power of Easter engages in fights each year over Good Friday garden centre openings (or not). For me, these words from Marion Woodman fit the season: “Rites of passage are inner and outer, body and psyche at limit. We journey through the labyrinth of our souls. The mystery lures us into death, which leads us into life.”
Tonight we meet for Maundy Thursday at 6pm, Good Friday at 10am, Saturday we are open from 10am for a quiet hour 10.30-11.10am, and then Easter Day with Communion is also at 10am.
Breathe deeply of the Spirit. May miraculous cycles of death and life, sun and moon, permeate your soul this year, wherever you are, whatever you do. Whatever your mind believes, follow your heart.
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