Dates and Time

March 25th is Lady Day. It has a strange twinning – for the church, it is the celebration of the Annunciation – the visit of the angel Gabriel to Mary announcing that she would have a baby and he would be Jesus; for the English, it was a “Quarter Day” and a day when tax was due – though with the change of calendar in 1752 that day was delayed till April 5th. 

March 21st is the Spring Equinox, when day and night are of equal length, as we move from the darker half of the year to the lighter half (if we are in the Northern Hemisphere).

This last year we have been noting particular dates when restrictions would be lifted, or when lock-downs were introduced, and March 23rd is the official one-year anniversary of the first lock-down, though in fact many things were already closed by then.

In the wisdom or foolishness of God, dates and anniversaries are strange and incomplete things. The solar year is not an exact number of days, but something like 365 ¼ days. The lunar month is not an easy division of the year, or even a whole number of days – 29.53 days to be exact. So the moon has its times and the sun has its times (as we view the world from our planet), but none of them are neat and tidy. Yet there is also a reliability to the cycles, the lunar month, the solar year, the equinoxes, where the stars appear in the night sky etc. There is a deeper order and pattern to the universe, which is also dynamic not static.

And the dates mentioned above are an interesting mix. Some say there are two certainties in life – taxes and death, and the tax year comes round without fail, though how much tax we pay may change (and seems to go up!). The equinox is also a certainty, as the seasons unfold, even if the weather is changing, and climate change may be causing irreversible change, which many would see as damage even destruction of our planet.  ‘Lady Day’ suggests that in the rhythm and pattern of the centuries was interrupted on this one and once only occasion as the Creator became ‘incarnate’, beginning in a woman’s womb. And March 23rd will remind us that there are recent events, local events that need to be remembered, even if – in a few years – we will no longer keep the anniversary.

So this week 

  • we note the equinox and the gift of the seasons and years, aware however that our actions can cause real damage to our planet;
  • we accept our responsibilities in paying tax, while praying for a just and equitable spending of resources; 
  • we remember the events of this past year, when too many have lost life or livelihood, and so many who have worked tirelessly; 
  • we celebrate and take deep note of the facts of our faith – Jesus, the eternal Word, come in human form and limitation, 

and as we will remember and celebrate in the coming weeks, Jesus who lived, and died, for us and for our salvation, and who rose again to give us the promise of new life. And so Lent will pass through Hosanna to Alleluia.

Rev’d Peter Reiss