The month of April is named after the Greek goddess Aphrodite (the Roman, Venus).
But in Old English it was called Eastermonth after the Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring, Eastre, from which of course we get the name of the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection – Easter.
You might haven noticed that the date of Easter moves around each year, unlike Christmas, and that is because it is based on the cycles of the moon.
Easter is usually observed on the first Sunday that occurs after the first full moon following the vernal (spring) equinox, when the sun is overhead at the equator and moving north.
The Jewish Passover is calculated in a similar fashion, as historically Jesus’ death and resurrection occurred at the time of Passover, though by church tradition, Easter and Passover can never fall on exactly the same day, so slight adjustments may, on rare occasions, have to be made.
The time leading up to Easter Sunday, the day of the Resurrection, is called Holy Week and there are several important services during that week.
On Thursday, known as Maundy Thursday, Jesus’ Last Supper with his disciples is commemorated.
This is when he instituted what is now known as Holy Communion, the washing of feet, and the command that we should love one another.
That particular Thursday got its name “Maundy” from the Latin word “mandatum” – command.
Good Friday follows with the remembrance of Jesus’ death on the cross, “Good” because of the benefits (healing, forgiveness, new life, etc.) that flowed from that event.
On Saturday, the church celebrated the Easter Vigil, when the Light of Christ is brought back into the church after sunset in preparation for the Easter celebrations.
Then of course Easter Day, the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead.
The Easter story is about moving through death into new life and it is a story that in the spring, we see all around us, as the seemingly dead seeds hiding in the dark soil suddenly spring to life, emerging out of their dark tombs.
As human beings, we also need to let things die in our lives.
They may be old habits that do not help us anymore, old ways of thinking or attitudes that limit and constrict us.
We may need to break out of our tombs and embrace a new way of being or a new way of seeing the world around us.
And so I invite you in this Easter season to embrace transformation and the possibility of new life.
May God bless you always.
The Reverend Simon Shenstone is the minister of Holy Trinity Anglican in Grand Forks