Lenten Reflection III
Today is a rare February 29th, the “leap day” in our calendar. While the day itself is somewhat arbitrary, as one could just as easily add an extra day to any one of the months in the calendar, I think in part is an acknowledgement that February gets the short end of the stick when it comes to actual days. Curiously enough, one of the major reasons why February 29th or a leap-day exists has to do with keeping our celebration of Easter from sliding too far off the calendar. It’s one of these points where the science of astronomy and specifically the Christian faith intersect, and gave rise to our modern Gregorian calendar.
At is base, observers of the sky have long since known that the approximately 24 hour rotation of the earth does not line up exactly with the orbit of the earth around the sun. Even before the idea that the earth orbited the sun (heliocentrism) became widely accepted as scientific fact, calendar keepers knew that one year was actually 365 ¼ days. The Julian calendar introduced the idea of a leap-day added once every 4 years to compensate for the ¼ day that would accumulate each year. The trouble was, that the quarter day is more like 0.2425, so over time, even the Julian calendar was off. So the calendar developed under Pope Gregory XIII proposed that standard calendar year would be 365 days, with a leap year every 4 years as per the Julian calendar, except that three times in 400 years, leap days would be ignored in a year they normally would be. So any year divisible by 100 would actually ignore the leap-year rule, unless it happened to be divisible by 400. Sounds complicated? It is, but it makes the calendar much more accurate. It meant that 2000 was a leap year (divisible by 400), but 2100 won’t be.
So why all of this trouble? For the church it was important that the date of Easter be tied to the first day of spring (the vernal equinox), to put it close to the Jewish celebration of Passover, which was determined by a lunar calendar. When the formula was first spelled out in the 4th century, it would be the first Sunday after the first full moon after March 21st, which was the Spring equinox. By the time of Pope Gregory’s reforms in 1570s, because of the drift of the Julian calendar, the Spring equinox was 10 days out-of-sync. When the Gregorian calendar was put into place in 1582, 10 days were deleted from the calendar, but now it would be much more accurate. Easter would now be celebrated close to the time of year when Jesus was crucified and risen. This year, because the first full moon after the spring equinox is on March 23rd, Easter is early, falling on March 27th. It means that Holy Week is early!
This coming Sunday is our Annual General Meeting as a congregation following lunch after worship. Please mark your calendars. We have an added incentive for you to come, as we have combined the lunch prior to the meeting with our annual birthday cake Sunday! So there will be tables set up for each month everybody to enjoy a piece of cake.
This Sunday, I also continue with addressing the topics of “what are you curious about?” This Sunday’s story is the Prodigal Son, which lends itself very well to the submitted topics of “forgiveness” and “[How do I] change my attitude to my neighbour who has –and continues to- make my life difficult.” I’m looking forward to working with these, to see if I can help shed some new light on it, and help us discern God’s presence in the midst of these questions.
Yours in Christ,
- Sunday, March 6th: Annual General Meeting
- Sunday, March 20th: Palm/Passion Sunday
- On Palm/Passion Sunday the choir will be offering a special presentation in music marking the beginning of Holy Week.
- Good Friday: March 25th, 10:30am
- Easter Sunday: March 27th, 10:30am
- The Dead Sea Scrolls Seminar
- In cooperation with the Calgary Association of Lifelong Learners (CALL), I will be offering a short course/seminar on the Dead Sea Scrolls. I have now confirmed a start date of Monday May 9th, and it will run for 5-6 sessions on Mondays from 7:15 to about 9pm.
- Congregational Membership Classes
- If you or someone you know would like to formalize membership with St. Matthew’s, I am hoping to run a membership class in the next few months. If you are interested, please email me, call me at the church, or speak with me directly on Sunday mornings.
Church Office Hours
Wendy’s regular office hours are Mondays, 11am-3pm, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Friday from 9am-3pm.
My regular office hours are Sunday through Thursdays from 9:00 to 12:30. While I am likely to be in the office in the afternoons Monday through Thursday, I may also be out on pastorals visits or meetings.