Vicar's Blog ~ February 2018
This year, Ash Wednesday falls on St Valentine’s Day in the middle of Half Term, and Easter Day is April Fool’s Day. I didn't vote for either of those! The dating of Easter (and thereby of everything that relates to it, in Lent, and afterwards at Ascension and Pentecost), hinges on the phases of the moon, for us in the Western Church at least. Eastern Churches use other methods, including some who keep Easter rooted to Passover, which itself is hinged on a thirteen month lunar month year. It works more or less, but our 364.25 day year is more accurate seasonally. So Easter is, for us, the Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox (21 March). This gives a 24 day range in which Easter may fall. In 1922 an Act of Parliament decreed that Easter should be designated as the Second Sunday of April ‘when the churches agree’. You might have noticed that has not (yet) happened! So we are lumbered with a variety of dates that are not easily predictable. We notice this immediately as, at Candlemas we turn from looking backwards towards Christmas - the season now ended on February 2nd after 40 days since December 25th. Then we look towards Easter, with its 40 day preceding Lent.
Calendars and diaries rule most of our lives. The writer of Ecclesiastes gives a sobering perspective of the business of our lives and the tendency to be guided, even ruled by calendars or diaries:
“What gain have the workers from their toil? I have seen the business that God has given to everyone to be busy with. He has made everything suitable for its time; moreover he has put a sense of past and future into their minds, yet they cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.” (3:9-10).
For no matter how busy we are, or how full are calendars, time marches on, and everything we do or plan to do, or have done, needs to be placed in perspective against the eternal, divine time of God. Astrophysicists tell us that before the Big Bang there literally was no time, and that there may yet be a context in which there is no more time. This is not so different from the idea that the ‘end of the world’, however nigh it is, will transform time and space into something else, something incomprehensible to us here and now. Our calendars map out our little zone of time, keeping us busy, but are almost meaningless in the great scheme of things. This is not something to be depressed about though, but is rather something to be humbled by. We can stand before our calendars in awe of God, under whose creative loving gaze, everything ‘which is, already has been’; and that that which is yet to happen, is already happening to God; and perhaps even more profoundly, what we consider to have happened in the past, is still real to God, who seeks out the past, present and future simultaneously. For God the trinity is not only three persons in one, but past, present and future, three times in one, too.