For those who want to know the complicated stuff


Why does Orthodox Easter differ from Western Easter?

Ever since Emperor Constantine convened the Council of Nicea in 325AD to codify the Christian faith, the date of Easter has been linked to the lunar cycle and falls on the Sunday following the first full moon after the vernal equinox. 

(An equinox is the moment in which the plane of Earth's equator passes through the center of the Sun, which occurs twice each year, around 20 March and 23 September. On an equinox, day and night are of approximately equal duration all over the planet).

From the moment 1,800 bishops returned from Nicea (now Iznik in Turkey) to disseminate the decision regarding Easter, there have been those who have wanted to fix Easter to the same date each year. Both the eastern Orthodox and the western churches use the same formula to set the date of Easter, the eastern churches do so using the Julian calendar, while the western churches use the Gregorian calendar.  The reason why most of the world moved from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar is because the Julian calendar is inaccurate, but the Orthodox church, not partial to change, has so far resisted recognising this as a problem.

A concerted effort was made in the 10th century to resolve this problem and in 1928 the UK Parliament passed "The Easter Act" proposing a fixed date of Easter to be the Sunday following the second Saturday in April, but this legislation has never been enacted because it needed the cooperation of the churches, and this cooperation was, at the most, optimistic.

Recently Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria proposed that Easter be fixed on the second Sunday in April, an idea supported by Pope Francis, but the whole point of the date of Easter is to align it to the Jewish celebration of Pesach (Passover) Which was taking place at the time of the Crucifixion.  Scholars have determined, however, that the date of the Passover when Jesus was crucified was March 30th.


Orthodoxy on Baptism

Immersion in water to symbolise cleansing, purification and emerging into a new life has been practised by Judaism for thousands of years, and what Christians do is simply a continuation of what John the Baptist did at the request of Jesus at the beginning of Jesus' ministry.

But whilst John baptised in the river Jordan, (then, presumably,a fairly clean river but now quite polluted), the practise of ritual cleansing with water was a long established one, laid down in Leviticus 15:16, "he shall wash all his flesh in the water" and this is called mikveh. Jewish practice is to was three times to represent the three times the injunction is repeated in the bible.

There were several different forms of mikveh. The mikveh  was used by women when their period was complete, (it took the domestic form of using pots, and there is a case to argue that it was these pots that Jesus used when He turned water to wine, because the context of the account is that the pots "contained water after the manner of the purification of the Jews").  Mikveh water was also used for washing of clothes and body when they had been in contact with something ritually impure and defiled. Mikveh water is specially designed to bring about sanctification and purification.  During the Liturgy, a priest will wash his hands for he same purposes.  Pontius Pilate washed his hands to cleanse himself of the consequences of the decision to try Jesus.

The term arises from the creation account when God separated the land from the sea, and behind the thinking surrounding mikveh is the idea that in all acts of mikveh there is a separation made by water. The crossing of the Red Sea by Moses was a mikveh, and so any passing through water for the purposes of ritual purification is a mikveh. When a Gentile converted to Judaism they had to undergo mikveh as a sign they were passing from being a gentile to becoming a Jew, passing from idolatry to the true God, passing from life as a dead person to new life in God, passing from darkness into light.

While some sources state that the practice dates back to John the Baptist, it is clear that this is not so, and also that John the Baptist wasn't a Christian.  John the Baptist was a Jew, practising baptism for Jews urging them to return to the true love for God, and obedience to the Law and the Prophets in anticipation of the Messiah (Messiach), a Messiah whom he recognised in his relation Jesus.

Those wishing to be received into Orthodoxy, irrespective or not as to whether they have been already chastened or baptised in another denomination, will need to be baptised.  This wishing to have their children baptised are welcome, and encouraged, to do so.  If you do not live locally and wish to have your children baptised in our church, with the agreement of your local Orthodox priest whom we would ordinarily encourage you to approach, this can be discussed.


Orthodoxy on Marriage


Orthodoxy and monastacism


Orthodoxy and the diaconate and priesthood


Orthodoxy in world affairs


Orthodoxy in reconciliation


Orthodoxy in ecumanism

- 1 - - 2 - - 3 - - 4 - - 5 - - 6 - - 7 -