A few years ago my Beloved and I spent Easter in Cyprus – lovely - the weather was warm, the people were friendly and the hotel was good.
We’d gone “on line” before we set off and found that there would be an Anglican celebration of The Feast in an Orthodox Church a short walk from our hotel, thanks to the ministrations of a priest of the Diocese in Europe (Fr. Paul Needle worked as part of this vast Diocese during his time in Spain you will remember)
The Greek-Orthodox Parish Priest and his people kindly and generously shared their church building with the Anglican community every Sunday.
Inside the church was beautiful, filled with colour, Holy Icons on all the walls and the screens in front of the altar.
We sang the familiar Anglican Hymns and listened to the familiar words from Common Worship. The sermon was in English and at the end of Mass, the children were given little Easter eggs and we enjoyed greeting our fellow worshipers with smiles and heartfelt “Happy Easter”s - just like home.
But wait – not quite like home - as we Anglicans all filed out of the church we met the Orthodox congregation coming in, quietly and solemnly, because for them it was still Passiontide.
I realize that you will already be aware that the churches of East and West follow different calendars, we of the Western tradition follow the Gregorian and those of the Eastern tradition follow the - older - Julian calendar.
This, of course, makes for several discrepancies in the date of Feasts and Fasts, Lent and Easter, Pentecost and Ascension for instance.
Unfortunately for one couple in our hotel, they had booked their holiday without checking all this and were disappointed and cross to find that the Easter parades and processions that they had expected to enjoy were not due to take place for a couple of weeks – Oh dear!
For years there have been moves afoot to “fix” the date of Easter, that it may always fall on the second Sunday in April or something, these discussions have recently involved the churches of both East and West. Does it matter?
Yes it does, mainly because Jesus prayed that “They may be one, as we are one”, and unity between different Christian traditions is a potent witness to Our Lords teaching in the world.
Regarding Easter, as we believe that every Sunday is a celebration of Jesus’ Resurrection, you could argue that no one Sunday is more important than another I suppose.
But this year - 2017 - is one of those blessed years when the calendars of East and West coincide and the whole of Christendom will be rejoicing on the same glorious day, April 16th
Alleluia! Christ is Risen, He is Risen indeed Alleluia!