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From The Chaplain's Desk
April 2016 Chaplain's Corner: Fifty Days of Easter

By Charles Dimmick, CT State Grange Chaplain

  APRIL 5, 2016 --

It has occurred to me that some of us are cheating ourselves by taking only one day out of the year to celebrate Easter. After all, we take several weeks to celebrate Christmas, and from a spiritual standpoint Easter is considerably more important than Christmas. Jesus’ rising from the dead on Easter morning is the defining essence of Christianity. It may be argued that every Sunday is a little Easter in that it is a celebration of the resurrection, but how many of us remember that. From about the third century until 1647 Easter was a season, not just a single day. The Easter Season went from sunset the day before Easter until the day of Pentecost, fifty days after Easter Day. But in 1647 the English Parliament, newly re-established after the victory of Cromwell’s Puritans in the English Civil War, abolished both Christmas and Easter, declaring them to be based on pagan festivals and not part of true Christianity. Several other groups, most notably the Calvinists [later to become Presbyterians], the Quakers, and the Anabaptists [now represented by Amish and the Mennonites], also rejected Easter about this same time. But gradually celebration of Easter crept back into most of those groups. New England Congregationalists are the heirs of the Puritans, and they certainly celebrate Easter, as do modern Presbyterians. Even the Amish and Mennonites now celebrate Easter, although they don’t make a big fuss over it. Through all of these changes the Orthodox churches, the Roman Catholics, the Anglicans [including the Episcopal Church] and the Lutheran churches continued to recognize both Easter Day and the fifty days of Eastertide. 

My own personal opinion [and I most certainly don’t want to force my opinions on anyone else] is that, firstly, every day is a day of the Lord and should be dedicated to His worship, and secondly, that it is fitting to focus attention at different times of the year on various aspects of Jesus’ life and ministry and on various wondrous acts of God. Thus, it is appropriate to take time for fifty days out of the year to reflect on Jesus’ death and resurrection and on our own baptism into the faith, as well as to explore the “mysteries” of our faith. Remember that by Jesus’ death and resurrection we are assured of salvation from death for each of us. Remember also Jesus’ promise to the disciples: “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.  If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.” Surely we should take more than just one day of the year to meditate on such a promise.


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