“You shall observe the festival of unleavened bread [Passover], for on this very day I [the LORD] brought your companies out of the land of Egypt: you shall observe this day throughout your generations as a perpetual ordinance. In the first month, from the evening of the fourteenth day until the evening of the twenty-first day, you shall eat unleavened bread. For seven days…” – Exodus 12:17-19a
Okay, so here’s a thing: Passover in Hebrew is transliterated as Pesach. In countries that do not speak English, the Holy Day and Season we call “Easter” is known as Pascha. When you see “Pesach” and “Pascha” next to each other, you might see a similarity in word structure. You see this relation because they ARE related words.
In worship over the past few weeks, I have been using the phrase, “passover from death into life,” when describing the meaning of the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus. This is intentionally wording. As a faith born out of Second Temple Judaism, early Christianity saw parallels between the Passover in Exodus and the events of the Great Three Days. Therefore, the early Church melded the early celebration of Pesach (which did not have the Seder that is now celebrated by Rabbinic Judaism) with the celebration of the Resurrection of Christ.
For the early Church, the observance of Pascha (Easter) lasted seven days because, according to the Bible, Pesach (Passover) was supposed to last seven days (as seen in the Exodus reading printed above). We have since expanded Easter to be 50 days in length, starting with the Easter Vigil and concluding with the Feast of Pentecost. (This expansion has made Easter to be about one seventh of the year, paralleling Christianity’s weekly pattern of Sunday being the holiest day of the week.) Despite this expansion of the season, we should still celebrate the first week of Easter with joy that balances the somberness of the previous week which we consider a special section of the season of Lent.
In light of the quotation from Dr. Pfatteicher’s, I do admit I was working to get over a cold and possibly bronchitis on the afternoon of Easter Sunday through Easter Tuesday. I therefore give a partial apologize (“partial” because I could only do so much to be healthy) for not being able to help us, as a congregation, celebrate this past week with more energy. In place of that, we can start thinking about next year and the remainder of this week.
In what ways can we make the first week of Easter special? Easter is a time when the Church fasts from fasting, which is to say that the Church feasts for the entirety of the season. Maybe next year we can celebrate by having feasts in addition to the traditional Easter Sunday Dinner. Maybe we can add worship services as family units.
Anyway, it is still Easter! Alleluia! The Lord is risen!
God continue to be with you!
Yours in Christ, Pastor Paul+