Passover weekend the time to mark holy day

Spring Creek vicar Derek Harding
Spring Creek vicar Derek Harding

If you've read the Marlborough Express recently you'll have heard of the Blood Moon eclipse on April 15.

The Jewish festival we call Passover is celebrated at this time (usually the first full moon after the March equinox).

The traditional accounts of Jesus' Crucifixion are based on that festival. The date on which Christians generally commemorate the death and resurrection of Jesus is the first weekend following that full moon. Because the moon's cycle doesn't fit our calendar exactly, the date of this festival varies from year to year - between March 22 and April 25.

As letters in the Express have pointed out, the festival of the March equinox, Oestre, occurs at the same time and so the name, changing over centuries to Easter, has become the name for the Christian festival and the public holidays around it.

The Thursday before Easter is often known as Maundy Thursday. On that day, when Jesus shared his Last Supper with his friends, he gave a command, that people should show compassion for one another. (Command is mande in Middle English and French, hence Maundy.)

By such compassion, other people would be able to recognise Christians and so come to understand the Christian message.

The meaning of "Good" in Good Friday is debated but it is the day on which Jesus was executed by crucifixion, a particularly cruel, grim form of torture guaranteed to end in a lingering death.

Jesus died and his body was placed in a cave-tomb.

The following day, Saturday, was the Jewish Sabbath and on the next day, Sunday, Jesus' friends found that the tomb where he had been laid was empty.

A living Jesus appeared to them - celebrated as the Resurrection. It is this fact that makes Easter so special to Christians and why it is important that it is celebrated in line with the time of the Passover.

Sunday is the first day of the week. The week past, leading up to this festival, is known as Holy Week and the week following the festival is known as Easter Week. For this reason, the Sunday in Easter Week, this year April 20, is Easter Sunday or Easter Day.

Hollow eggs (decorated blown hens' eggs, chocolate eggs, up to Faberge bejewelled eggs) are given as gifts, symbolising the empty tomb of Jesus.

That leaves me wanting to recognise that Christians try, not always successfully, to show themselves to have compassion.

Of course, other faiths and people of no faith also try to live compassionate lives; for Christians it is a requirement, so that they can be living witnesses to their faith and the life and teaching of Jesus.

I want to celebrate that with a holiday (holy-day) at Passover weekend whenever it falls, not on a state-declared date of convenience. If you haven't already done so, check out the following video. If you like it, see what your local church does this Easter. If it doesn't live up to your expectations, talk to the minister! Peace this Easter.


The Marlborough Express