Monday, 28 March 2016

Christ the First Fruit

Here is St Nicolas’ being prepared for Easter Day.  The new curtaining and what are actually three banners shield off the temporarily unused south aisle; visitors on Easter Day who were married in the church thirty years ago commented on how lovely the church looked and didn’t mention or seem to notice part was screened off, which I take it to mean the curtaining has done its job supremely well.

Meanwhile, the experience of Easter makes me even more uncomfortable with the idea that its date should become predictable, domesticated and unhitched from its Jewish Passover context.  It also seems strange that most commentary fails to distinguish between the issue of a fixed date (say, the second Sunday in April) and an agreed variable date (which is what the Synod of Whitby achieved for England in the Seventh Century when Celtic and Roman calculations of the variable date had diverged and which would benefit us today as Catholic and Orthodox calculations of the variable date diverges).

Yesterday I noticed not so much the obvious link with the Passover (‘Christ our Passover lamb has been sacrificed for us, so let us celebrate the feast’ from 1 Corinthians 5) as the associated first First Fruits celebration which Leviticus 23.10, 11 places precisely on the Sunday after Passover (and which appears to relate to the harvest of barley which requires less rain to grow rather than the later main First Fruit celebration which appears to relate to the wheat harvest) - the Epistle read at our services this year included ‘Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have died’ from 1 Corinthians 15.

Who would seriously want to uncouple all that for a tame pinned down neatness which doesn’t disturb nor intrude on things like school terms and Garden Centre sales patterns?

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