Party like it’s 325

While I am a well-known skeptic of combining the powers of Church and State, especially when one tries to control the content of the other, I look back on the Council of Nicaea in 325 CE and recognize they did a lot of good, despite the Emperor Constantine calling the council and tasked them with making a unified Christianity to unify the Empire. One of the wildest parts of the Empire calling this council is that many of the bishops still had the scars of Roman persecution which had only ended in 313 CE.

In case you’ve forgotten the basics, the first Council of Nicaea was primarily called to settle the question of Christ’s divinity. The question was, was Christ uncreated and equal to God the Father or was he the first creation and slightly less equal to God. The Council decided that Jesus Christ was full God and full Human. (Interesting side note: Constantine would eventually side with other side, the Arians, who said that Christ was the first creation because that theology put the Christ on a more similar level to the deified Emperor and thus give the Emperor more worldly and religious authority. History is full of egomaniacal men.). The Council also wrote the first 2/3 of the Nicaean Creed, set the date for Easter, and promulgated some early canon law.

The canon that interests us today is the last one which is the “prohibition of kneeling on Sundays and during the Pentecost (the fifty days commencing on Easter). Standing was the normative posture for prayer at this time…” See also the rest of the Wikipedia article for a good summary of the Council. In the early Church, and in liturgical Churches today, Easter is not a one day celebration, but rather a season of 50 days mirroring the 50 days between the festivals of Pesach (Passover) and Shavuot (Weeks). Observant Jews count the days between these festivals even now (Today is the 6th day of the Omer.).

You see these aren’t just any fifty days. These days are to be one, long, continuous celebration of Jesus’ resurrection. The canon to stand on weekdays tells us that each and every day, not just Sundays, were to be a commemoration and celebration with the full honor of Sundays. In fact one of the poetic names for the season is “The Great Sunday.” We were to party for fifty days. No confession, no kneeling, no fasting. We are meant to enjoy these fifty days!

So between now and June 5th, how are you going to celebrate? How are you going to live the resurrection life?

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