Holy Week 2023

>HOME >PASTOR >Pastor's Reflections >Holy Week 2023

I invite you to join us this Sunday, April 2, for our Palm Sunday service; we will have palms to distribute to all who come. On Friday, April 7, at 7:00 PM, we will have a Good Friday service in the chapel, an intimate service of Taize hymns and Tenebrae conducted by Emily Oaks (née Ehrgott).

The Sunday that follows is Easter Sunday, the greatest and holiest day of the Christian calendar. We will meet as usual at 10 AM, with fellowship time afterwards in the Social Hall.

Our Easter Sunday date is St. Mary’s Palm Sunday. The Coptic Orthodox Easter Resurrection Feast Liturgy is celebrated on Saturday evening, April 15th, from 8:30 PM to midnight; the service has a transition at about 10:00, which would be an appropriate time to leave as well. Holy Communion is restricted to full members of St. Marys church. Fr. Domadious said we are very welcome to join them as per my request. What a great way to Awaken Spirituality and Nurture Fellowship with St. Marys Church! The service will include reading the psalm, singing sacred hymns, and infusing incense. During the ceremony, all lights are switched off and on just after the resurrection is recalled. The service concludes at midnight. Please join me in celebrating Coptic Easter.

Why do some Orthodox churches have a different date for celebrating Easter? It is because they base their Easter date on the Julian calendar, which often differs from the Gregorian calendar that is used by many western countries.

The Gregorian calendar is the calendar used in most parts of the world. It was introduced on February 24 with a papal bull and went into effect in October 1582 by Pope Gregory XIII as a modification of, and replacement for, the Julian calendar. The principal change was to space leap years differently so as to make the average calendar year 365.2425 days long, more closely approximating the 365.2422-day 'tropical' or 'solar' year that is determined by the Earth's revolution around the Sun.

There were two reasons to establish the Gregorian calendar. First, the Julian calendar assumed incorrectly that the average solar year is exactly 365.25 days long, an overestimate of a little under one day per century, and thus has a leap year every four years without exception. The Gregorian reform shortened the average (calendar) year by 0.0075 days to stop the drift of the calendar with respect to the equinoxes. Second, in the years since the First Council of Nicaea in AD 325, the excess leap days introduced by the Julian algorithm had caused the calendar to drift such that the spring equinox was occurring well before its nominal 21 March date. This date was important to the Christian churches because it is fundamental to the calculation of the date of Easter.

As a moveable feast, the date of Easter is determined in each year through a calculation known as computus (Latin for 'computation'). Easter is celebrated on the first Sunday after the Paschal full moon, which is the first full moon on or after 21 March (a fixed approximation of the March equinox). Determining this date in advance requires a correlation between the lunar months and the solar year, while also accounting for the month, date, and weekday of the Julian or Gregorian calendar. The complexity of the algorithm arises because of the desire to associate the date of Easter with the date of the Jewish feast of Passover.