Praise the Holy One, did you see the full moon last night?!
Did you see it?
The super worm moon?
(I’m writing on Thursday, so it was actually on Wednesday)
A Super moon is when the moon swings closest to the earth in its orbit, and is simultaneously ‘full’; and so appears to be spectacularly bright.
The worm moon is the full moon in March, near the equinox, the threshold of spring, when the earth is soft and ready for seed and planting and the earthworm does its part to break up clods of earth.
Soft earth and a full moon
Brilliant and weighty in early evening
Slung low on the horizon.
A champion in the night sky.
Singular in its beauty. And fair.
Its dominion mighty, and feminine.
and good. Pure.
Earth softening for seed and sowing, planting and plough,
thawed and rich and ready.
The Dormant waking.
Light and dark in equipoise.
Imagery for our wilderness journeying.
It makes us ready to claim our Easter (A. . . .ias),
It readies us to celebrate our redemption,
It brings us to the brink,
And yet, it is the next full moon for which we wait.
The Passover Moon.
We know how the story goes, and the full moon thrills and summons us.
Motions us forward to new life and liberation and death being vanquished
all things Resurrection.
We want to sing our Easter song, for the sheer raw beauty of the moon.
But. . . not yet. . .
Do you realize that this coming Sunday could actually be Easter?
The date of Easter is decided by the rhythms of earth and moon and equinox; full moons and the Passover Moon and the ancient story of Exodus from Egypt.
Had the councils of the early church not tried to mess with things like the phases of the moon, today would be Maundy Thursday and Sunday would be Easter!
But. . . at the council of Nicaea, in the year 325, the church decided there would be not just an astronomical equinox, but an ecclesiastical equinox, (of all things!) and so it was set in stone:
The ecclesiastical equinox will be on March 21st, now and forever! Amen!
What a funny thing to think we can decree such as the moon and the earth in their rhythms. . .
But I digress.
So, that’s how it works: Easter will be on April 21st, because our full moon this week reached its peak on March 20th, and therefore, according to the church, it was not the full moon “on or after” the spring equinox, rather it was the full moon just before the spring equinox. . . go figure.
That’s the ridiculous part.
The important part, the more profound things are these:
All creation groans for redemption.
Creation waits with eager longing, and
the creation itself will be set free from its bondage . . .
The whole Creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth . . . and writhes like a woman in labor, for redemption.
The Creation itself reveals the invisible things about God, namely, God’s eternal power and divine nature.
All Creation sings the glory of God.
The moon sang for me last night.
The people of God
Escaped bondage in Egypt,
Fled from captivity,
Under a full moon!
Brilliant and weighty. Rising powerful.
In the month of Aries, the ram, a deity in the sacred constellation in the land of their captivity.
On Sunday we will read about the burning bush,
a wisp of sacred flame
lapping at Moses’ shins,
a hint and
and the voice of God.
A voice that promises liberation and prefigures the Exodus from Egypt.
A sacred song that resonates as
the antiphonal voice to Miriam’s
when she sang on the opposite shore of the sea that parted
and birthed their freedom.
This low-slung moon in last night’s sky,
the spring equinox and
the soft earth’s promise of fertility,
sing the song of the next full moon’s liberation from captivity.
We’re not there yet.
Like Moses wasn’t there yet, when he stood barefoot on holy ground.
The Exodus will come.
Slaves will go free. Captives liberated.
Christ will break the bonds of death and hell.
And we will be delivered under the Paschal Moon by the Paschal Lamb,
brilliant and weighty.
And death will be vanquished!
But let’s be brave on this holy ground between full moons. . .
Let’s hold the moon and all creation groaning, in our strong arms.
Let’s keep it all in our own ‘groaning’ for redemption,
hearts softening as the journey itself breaks up the clods.
Let’s keep them,
this full moon and all creation crying out,
as our company in the wilderness and our journey inward for Lent.
Can we dare to hold such brilliance
without singing out our Easter song that starts with “A. . . . . .ia”?
But to just hold it in prayerful silence. Contain it.
Bear the pain of its brilliance and unsung joy.
I’m feeling bold,
wanting to take just such a risky proposition.
Wanting to contain it and
let it do its work of illumination and clod breaking
on this inward journey.
Branches that bloom and
the super worm moon entice us to celebrate
and start singing (A. . . .ias) again.
(shhh. . .)
An unbearable tease of resurrection.
But keeping it, holding it, containing it?
It can make us feel,
a little more viscerally, the longing that the earth feels,
waiting for redemption and groaning in labor for it;
if we let it.
It can make us,
a little more acutely in tune with the people of God,
anywhere and everywhere,
who lift their voices and cry out for liberation and for God to vanquish death;
if we let it.
References relevant to my letter, in case you want to know:
Exodus, ch. 3 - 16
a bunch of Psalms,
The Book of Common Prayer:
The Exultet for Easter vigil, p. 286
Lynn Crovatt who took me outside at church on Tuesday to show me the moon.
Duffy Hickey who sent me word of the worm moon’s scheduled sighting, for Wednesday evening.
Benno who walked with me under the brilliance.
Rabbi Aron Moss, contributor to Chabad.org
Reverend Ruth Pattison
Rev. Pattison serves the people of Highpoint Episcopal Community Church as the Parson, exercising her gifts for collaborative leadership through preaching, liturgy, and the pastoral arts.