April 6, 2012

Local churches invite residents to attend Easter services

This cross sits atop the hill behind Canyon Lake Community Church.

Local churches are inviting residents to attend their Good Friday and Sunday Easter Services. Easter is Sunday, April 8.

? Canyon Lake Community Church

30515 Railroad Canyon Rd., Canyon Lake, 244-1877

Sunday services are 8 a.m., 9:30 a.m. and 11 a.m.

? New Hope Church

Southeast corner of Canyon Lake Towne Center, 244-2177

Sunday service is at 9:30 a.m.

? Lambs Fellowship Lake Elsinore

21901 Railroad Canyon Rd., Lake Elsinore, 471-3807

Good Friday service begins at 6:30 p.m.; Easter sunrise service begins at 6 a.m. in the amphitheater; Sunday services are at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m.

? Calvary Chapel Canyon Hills (meets at Canyon Lake Middle School) 33005 Canyon Hills Rd., calvarycanyonhills.com

Good Friday service begins at 7 p.m.; Sunday services are at 9 and 11 a.m.

? Cornerstone Community Church

34570 Monte Vista Dr., Wildomar, 674-8661

Good Friday services begin at 5 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.; Saturday services begin at 3:30 p.m., 5 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.; Sunday Services begin at 8 a.m., 9:45 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.

? St. Vincent Ferrer Parish, 27931 Murrieta Rd., Sun City, 679-4531

Thursday, April 5, Mass of the Lord's Supper 7 p.m.; Friday Liturgical services, 12 p.m., 3 p.m., Spanish service 7 p.m.; Saturday Easter Vigil, 7:30 p.m.; Sunday services begin at 6 a.m., 7:30 a.m., 9:15 a.m., 11 a.m., bilingual 1 p.m.

? Grace Evangelical Free Church, 29720 Goetz Rd., Quail Valley, 244-6444

Good Friday service begins at 5 p.m. Sunday service is at 9:30 a.m.

? Heritage Christian Church

27851 Bradley Rd., Menifee, 672-4995

Sunday service begins at 10 a.m.

? Calvary Chapel Lake Elsinore

107 & 115 N. Riley St. Lake Elsinore, 674-5451

Good Friday service begins at 12 p.m.; Sunday services are at 7:30 a.m., 9 a.m., 10:30 a.m. and 12 p.m.

The origins of Easter and related spring customs

The celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the central tenant of Christianity. Prior to his crucifixion on the cross on what is now known as Good Friday, Jesus and his disciples celebrated the Jewish Passover together. Jesus claimed to be the fulfillment of the Passover’s symbolism (“the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world,” John 1:29), so the sacred celebrations of these two world religions are historically linked.

According to scripture, Passover celebrates the day God commanded the Israelites to brush the blood of a sacrificed lamb on their doorposts so their firstborn children would be saved when the Angel of Death passed over Egypt. The death of Egyptian firstborn children and animals is what finally forced Pharaoh to release the Israelites from captivity to begin their journey to the Promised Land.

Cultural historians find in the celebration of Easter a convergence of three traditions ? Pagan, Jewish and Christian, as explained in the following information provided by Theholidayspot.com and hyperhistory.net.

Historically, many of the traditions and symbols of Easter are actually based on Pagan traditions and symbols. In Europe and Asia, spring was dedicated to a goddess of fertility, believed to have been originally based on the Babylonian goddess Ishtar, and referred to in Saxon mythology as “Oestre” or “Eastre.” Many scholars consider this the origin of the name “Easter.” Eggs and rabbits symbolizing reproduction were thought to invoke the fertility of spring. Even the painted eggs and egg-hunts originated from Pagan ceremonies of various cultures, including the Babylonians.

In order that Pagan cultures, particularly those in Europe, would be more receptive to the gospel and the story of Christ’s Resurrection, church leaders began to call the celebration of the resurrection “Easter” and to adopt various aspects of the Pagan ceremonies into the Easter celebration. Over time, the traditions surrounding the two holidays began to blend together until they essentially became the same holiday.

In today’s society, the Christian and Pagan have been practiced together for so long, they have become commonly accepted as rituals relating to Easter.

But it is also pointed out by some that the Easter festival, as celebrated today, is related with the Hebrew tradition, the Jewish Passover, celebrated during Nisan, the first month of the Hebrew lunar year. The Jewish Passover under Moses commemorates Israel’s deliverance from about 400 years of bondage in Egypt.

It was during this Passover celebration in 30 AD Christ was crucified under the order of the Roman governor Pontius Pilate as the then Jewish high priests accused Jesus of “blasphemy.” The resurrection came three days later, on what is now known as Easter Sunday. The early Christians, many of them being brought up in Jewish tradition, regarded Easter as a new feature of the Pascha (Passover). Thus the early Christian Passover turned out to be a celebration in memory of the passion-death-resurrection of Jesus.

Why the date changes

One interesting aspect of Easter lies in how its calendar date varies from year to year. The early church merely celebrated Easter around the same time as the Passover feast, which was based on the Hebraic lunar calendar. However, a controversy arose during the fourth century A.D. over which date to celebrate it.

While some churches desired to keep Easter in relation to the Passover, other churches objected, since Christ rose on a Sunday and to continue to date it in the customary way might make it fall on a different day of the week. In 327 A.D., Emperor Constantine sought to resolve the issue during the Council of Nicaea.

Eventually, the Council ruled that Easter would be celebrated on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Vernal (Spring) Equinox. So the actual date of Easter falls on a different set of dates between March and April; since the first full moon after the Vernal Equinox comes at different times every year.