Tag Archives: pascha

Resurrection Day!!

St. John’s Church in King William County, Virginia, one of the many historic, colonial era churches, where the altar always faces East.

If you drive around parts of rural Virginia, the state where I live, you will find a number of churches built in the pre-Revolutionary War era. Nearly all of these old churches have one thing in common: the church altar faces east. The great, historic cathedrals of western Europe do the same.

Why? In Mark 16:1-2, we read that Jesus’ women disciples went out to the tomb to anoint the dead body of Jesus with spices, at sunrise, only to find out that Christ had already risen. As a result, Christians have historically associated the Resurrection with the sun rising out of the east, in hopes that believers will one day share in that very same Resurrection that Jesus experienced, some 2,000 years ago. Many churches even today continue this tradition by having sunrise services on Easter morning. In fact, the word for Easter has the same root from which we get the English word for east.

Now some try to overly complicate this by associating Easter with having pagan origins, a tale which can be easily debunked (see here, here, and here). But, if it makes people feel better, just substitute the Scriptural Greek word pascha, transliterated from the Hebrew word for passover, as used by the Eastern Orthodox, or call it “Resurrection Day.” Whatever.

The point is: Do not get hung up on a word like Easter. Instead, please focus on what the concept behind the word means. Christians celebrate Jesus’ Resurrection from the dead, because it gives us the great hope, that one day, we too will inherit Resurrected bodies. For a quick five-minute summary on the meaning of Resurrection Day, Easter, or Pascha, here is Bible scholar Ben Witherington.

In the meantime, let us celebrate remember the meaning of Resurrection Day: HE IS RISEN!


He is Risen!… (in the East)

The Resurrection of Christ, by St. Isaac of Syria Skete (Boscobel, Wisconsin), credits the Orthodox Wiki.

He is Risen! The Resurrection of Christ, by St. Isaac of Syria Skete (Boscobel, Wisconsin), credit: the Orthodox Wiki.

To all of my Eastern Orthodox friends, I say “He is Risen!” on this day when you celebrate Pascha.

For those evangelical friends who have no idea what I am talking about, Pascha is the original name for Easter. Pascha is essentially a transliteration of the Hebrew word for “passover,” or pesach. Way back at the Council of Nicea in 325 A.D., the famous church council that resolved the dispute over the deity of Christ, which made way for the mature formulation of the doctrine of the Trinity, the council also established a uniform method for calculating the date for celebrating the Resurrection of Jesus.

However, the church in those days used the Julian calendar, which proved to be flawed in its ability to keep track of the solar year. The Western churches later fixed this by going to the current Gregorian calendar. However, the Eastern churches still have retained the old, Julian calendar method of calculation for Pascha. Hence, this year, the celebration of Pascha falls on May 1st, instead of March 27.

There are some who reject Easter because of its supposed connection to Germanic paganism. But since Pascha is really the earlier name, maybe Christians in the West can drop “Easter” and adopt “Pascha” instead, for now on, and be rid of this fringe complaint.

How about this? I have an idea. Next year, Western Easter and Eastern Pascha will fall on the same date, April 16. How about if the West adopts the “Pascha” name and the East adopts the updated Gregorian calendar calculation system, so that we can all celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord on the same day, in future years? Would this not move us a step towards Christian unity?

Do I have any takers?

…………………

I blogged about this before in 2014.

 

 


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