In 2010, the celebration of Easter will be observed on Sunday 4 April in all the Christian traditions. But in most years, Easter is celebrated on different dates in the western and Orthodox churches because of ancient discrepancies in calculating the calendar.
The National Council of Churches USA last week renewed its call, in tandem with many Christians across the globe, for the setting of a common date for the annual celebration of the most important event in Christian history – the life-giving triumph of God in Christ over the power of division, violence, destruction and death.
In a letter to member communions in the United States, the General Secretary of NCCUSA, the Rev Dr Michael Kinnamon and Dr Antonios Kireopoulos, NCCUSA Senior Programme Director for Faith and Order and Interfaith Relations, lamented the fact that “almost every year the Christian community is divided over which day to proclaim this Good News. Our split, based on a dispute having to do with ancient calendars, visibly betrays the message of reconciliation. It is a scandal that surely grieves our God.”
The letter proposes continued movement toward a common Easter date based on the recommendations of the Aleppo Conference of 1997:
• Adhere to the decision of the first ecumenical council at Nicea to celebrate Easter on the first Sunday following the first full moon after the spring equinox, thus maintaining the biblical association between Jesus' death and Passover;
• agree to use the most up-to-date scientific methods to analyse the astronomical data (which is consistent with Nicea); and,
• use the meridian of Jerusalem (due to its centrality in the Passion of Christ) as the point of reference for these calculations.
“This year and next,” wrote Kinnamon and Kireopoulos, “may we truly revel in the joy that comes with our united proclamation of the Good News. May God grant that in 2012 and beyond we may continue to proclaim with one voice that Christ is risen! For he is risen indeed!”
Background information from Ekklesia to the dating issues around Easter can be found here: http://ekklesia.co.uk/node/5051