West Chelmsford United Methodist Church
Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Easter is late this year. It may seem strange to hear me talking about Easter here in early February, but I’ve been thinking about the implications of a late Easter. Easter this year is on April 21. April 23 is the latest it can ever be, so this is a pretty late one. You see, the date of Easter is determined by an ancient method that may seem rather arbitrary to us. Each year Easter is the first Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox. This odd astronomical method of setting the date comes from a time when communication across the church in the Roman Empire was difficult. This astronomical formula could be used in any location during any year so that all of the church celebrated in Easter on the same Sunday. But it means that the date of Easter can vary more than a month, depending on when Sundays and the full moon and the equinox fall. These days it makes planning the life of the church in the winter and spring very interesting and challenging, since the date of Easter determines the date of Ash Wednesday, the weeks of Lent, Holy Week, and even Pentecost.
So, Easter is late this year. That means Ash Wednesday doesn’t come until March 6. We therefore have an Epiphany season that lasts for two months.
Why should you care about all of this? And why do I care? Epiphany is the season during which we celebrate the spread of the message of Christ to the world. It began with the Wise Men from the East seeing the star that announced the birth of Christ. During this season we hear the stories of Jesus calling his disciples to follow him and spread his message. We are reminded of the work we are called to do as Christians, just as the disciples did the work of God as they followed Jesus.
This year we have more time than usual to focus on how we are following Jesus as his disciples. We have more time than usual to ask ourselves how we are bringing the Good News of the Gospel to the world. We have more time than usual to focus on our work together as Christians in this church.
Our church offers many ways you can be a part of God’s great work. Our missions committee is actively supporting many good causes, such as the Open Pantry in Lowell and Dr. Belinda Forbes, a United Methodist medical missionary in Nicaragua. People from our church serve a meal each month at the St. Paul’s meal program in Lowell. We have an annual Faithworks program to reach out and do work projects families in our area. These are just a few of the many ways we reach out to others.
Use this long Epiphany season to ask yourself how you are spreading the love of Christ in our world. Go with some of those from our church who reach out in Christ’s name to our broken world. Maybe a late Easter and a long Epiphany are a good thing.


Reverend Mack