Tuesday, 1 March 2016

At the right time…

One of the questions I have to answer for myself at this time of year is: “When do the clocks move forward for British Summer Time?” I’m afraid the answer is, “Early on the morning of the last Sunday of March.” For those who haven’t worked out just what that day is… it’s the morning of Easter Day, 27th March.

Somewhere in my head I thought there had once been established a principle that the clocks were to be altered on the last Sunday of March except when that day was Easter Day. If that had been the case it is so no longer! So please make sure you get your clocks sorted out – so that together we can celebrate the Resurrection of the Lord at the right time.

It’s very inconvenient isn’t it? In fact all this having to work out when Easter is each year is very inconvenient. It’s almost as early as it can be this year – near the end of March. But it can be as late as the end of April and all dates in between. There are complaints that it messes up the length of school terms and works holidays as it shifts about year by year, the date determined by the appearance of a new moon in relation to the spring equinox. In the 1920s Parliament actually legislated to fix the date of Easter – until it was pointed out that the will of the House of Commons wouldn’t necessarily find ready acceptance from the rest of Christendom.

Now it’s been in the news that the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Pope and other church leaders are having another attempt at fixing what might seem to many a more sensible date – probably just to observe the second or third Sunday of April. I’d be surprised and rather sorry if they succeeded. The wandering date of Easter is a reminder of its relationship with the Jewish Feast of the Passover, another moon-fixed festival. And still more fundamentally it’s a reminder that beyond our attempts to fix everything to fit in with human “convenience” there might be a concept of God’s time.

Why did Jesus go to the Cross? By human reckoning it’s not the easiest way God could have worked out the world’s salvation. But “the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men” (1 Corinthians 1.25). Not the way of power but of vulnerability. And “while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5.6). That’s where we find our hope. And if we complain about that lost hour as the clocks change this Easter, remember that it was “very early on the first day of the week” that the women went to the tomb to find that Jesus had risen. Let’s be renewed in that faith!       

Martin Jackson

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