Today is the Vernal (Spring) Equinox, one of two days in the year when day and night are of equal length, and the first day of spring. In Western Christianity, it is also a day for calculating the date for Easter … the first Sunday following the first full moon following the Vernal Equinox. The next full moon will be a week from today, setting Easter on the 31st. The earliest possible date for Easter (in Western Christianity) is March 22. In recent history, Easter was March 23, 2008 and won’t be that early again until sometime after 2089.
In Orthodox Christianity, Easter 2013 is on May 5 (using the Julian, rather than the Gregorian, calendar). For Jews, Passover begins on the March 26. During the next few weeks, Christians, Jews, Baha’i, Zoroastrians, Buddhists, and Hindus will be observing and celebrating holy days. While each of us have different liturgies, rituals, and traditions, we all live in a country where it is possible to have our celebrations without fear.
Chaplains are charged with insuring the First Amendment rights of all sorts of religious people, providing time and space for military members and their families to hold onto their faith and to worship as they choose. At times, we have personal concerns about other faiths. At time, we may even have personal concerns about our own faith community. Even so, we must continue to work for the opportunity of all citizens to enjoy freedom of religion – or none of us will have that freedom.
Personally, I thank God that men and women are called to exercise their ministry in the Armed Forces and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Working with those who have and who continue to defend the Constitution of the United States is a high privilege.
However you plan to observe the Holy Days ahead, may you find blessing for yourself and those you love, and may you be a blessing to those you serve.