Since the fourth century, the traditional date of Easter for most Christians has fallen on the first Sunday after the first full moon that comes after the spring equinox.

Last year I read an article about Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, who is seeking to fix the date of Easter. Since 1928 there’s been a law in the United Kingdom that tries to set the date so it would be the same Sunday (the first Sunday after the second Saturday in April) every year. Almost 90 years later and they’re still working on it. Pope Francis has also called for Christians to come together and form a consensus about when Easter comes. Sometimes the church is good at naming when we’re all in need of a resurrection. Sometimes, not so much.

I can understand why it would make sense to move to a fixed date. But there’s something poetic about having to guess each year when Easter comes, when we’ll be reminded of the resurrection.

I’m sure there are a few people who know the formula and they have no problem predicting Easter. But me? I have no idea—every year I’m as surprised as the one before. I like that. I like that I have a hard time predicting when Easter will come.

I like my Easter elusive, hard to pin down. More in rhythm with the cycles of creation than the consensus of the church. More like the new fire we light outside on Easter’s vigil than the tiny tame thing that flickers on top of pretty Christ candles.

God of mercy,
Even if unity and consensus
is a good thing for the church,
may you keep Easter unpredictable,
may you keep Easter wild.
Cause if you leave it to us
we may domesticate it,
(over)plan for it or even worse.
Teach us, if it’s even possible,

that resurrection, like death,
is completely out of our control.
Thank God.

Timothy K. Snyder
Timothy K. Snyder is an instructor of practical theology at Wartburg Theological Seminary, Dubuque, Iowa.  

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