For us at Oak Grove, our looking ahead to the great celebration of Easter Sunday began
with our Ash Wednesday Service on February 10th Now, in these 40 days of Lent, we are looking ahead to Holy Week beginning with Palm Sunday on March 20th. Then, during the evenings of March 21-23, worship services are planned at 7:00PM with our lay speakers preaching. On Maundy Thursday, I look forward to leading the service and administering Holy Communion. Next, Friday will be a special “Service of Darkness” as we remember the day of Jesus’ crucifixion and burial. Saturday brings the traditional, special day for children as they gather to hunt for eggs from 10:00AM until Noon. Andfor the next day…Easter Sunday begins at the cemetery for our Sunrise Worship Service at 7:00AM. Breakfast follows in the fellowship hall at 7:45AM. Sunday School and Worship follow at regular times, 9:30AM and 10:30AM. For most of us, the above scheduling comes as no surprise. We are following tradition. AND please understand that we are not alone.
Regardless of denominational differences, we join with Christians all over the world in celebrating what makes us Christians…our celebrating the historical truth that, “He is risen!” Hallelujah! Yes, Easter is all about our celebrating the truth of our risen Lord. And Easter is for our celebrating the gift of eternal life. Jesus Christ rose from the grave AND so shall we through faith in Him. But how did the traditions of Easter come to be what they are?
Hopefully, you will find the following from The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church interesting and educational. Easter. The Feast of the Resurrection of Christ, being the greatest and oldest feast of the Christian Church. Its importance is emphasized liturgically by the long preparation of *Lent and *Passiontide, by the special ceremonies of *Holy Week, and by the following *Paschaltide, marked in the W. Church by the frequent reiteration of *Alleluia at the *Mass and in the Divine *Office, as the expression of Easter joy. In the ancient Church the *catechumens, after watching all Saturday night, were baptized early on Easter Day and received Communion. The night before Easter was celebrated by the illumination of the churches and even whole cities. In the W. Church the ceremonies were put back to the afternoon in the 10th cent. and to the morning of *Holy Saturday in the 14th, so that in the RC Church the Vigil, with the first Easter Mass, came to be celebrated on Saturday. A similar development took place in the E. Church, though here in addition Mattins of Easter Sunday begins at midnight on Saturday–Sunday, followed by the Liturgy of Easter Day. In the RC Church in 1951 it became permissible to offer the first Mass of Easter during the night of Saturday–Sunday, and in 1955 such celebration became obligatory. (For details of the service, see PASCHAL VIGIL SERVICE.) The BCP provides special anthems for use on Easter Day in place of the *Venite; CW throughout Eastertide. The derivation of the name ‘Easter’ is uncertain. Acc. to *Bede, it is connected with an Anglo-Saxon spring goddess ‘Eostre’. At any rate it seems clear that, as in the ease of Christmas (q.v.), the Christian feast of Easter has superseded an old pagan festival. The popular custom of exchanging ‘Easter eggs’ is of very ancient origin.
The date of the Easter feast is determined by the Paschal Full Moon, its extreme limits being 21 Mar. and 25 Apr. In the early Church, the two principal methods of computation were those of *Alexandria (owing to its astronomical resources) and *Rome.