This year (2016) most churches will be celebrating the Lord's Evening Meal in late March whereas the Jews will be celebrating the Passover in late April.
The difference lies in how each group ascertains the date Nisan 14.
Nisan is the first month of the Jewish calendar. While the calendar we use is based on the sun, the Jewish calendar is based on the cycles of the moon but does take into account the sun also. It does this by adding a month every two to three years to keep the lunar calendar synchronised with the seasons. Originally, the decision as to whether to add a month in any given year was based on three factors:
1. The ripeness of the barley
2. The fruit on the trees
3. The equinox
Eventually though a fixed arrangement was established that determined which years an extra month should be added. This arrangement was based on a 19-year cycle. The set years within the 19-year cycle where a month would be added were the following years:
Since 2016 is the 19th year of this ongoing cycle, it is a year where the extra month is added and thus the Passover is celebrated late April.
For those reading this who are/were Jehovah's Witnesses, you can find an illustration of the Jewish calendar with mention of this extra month in Appendix 8B in the large Reference Bible.
The churches base their calculation of Nisan 14 purely on the equinox. They do not accept the addition of the extra month for this particular year.
Whether this is correct or not does not diminish the impact of Christ's sacrifice. I feel so relieved now to join in with whomever is celebrating the Lord's Evening Meal no matter which date it is so that we can remember the death of our Lord and the joy and freedom that this brings. We can exercise our own personal conscience in this matter and respect the consciences of others. The main thing is that we do not dominate others with our own personal viewpoint as this would out of harmony with the love of the Christ. As Paul wrote to the Corinthians in 1 COR 16:14, "Let all your affairs take place with love." 🌷
How wonderful it will be to celebrate this memorial for the first time in a truly free state!
Last Sunday when the small group of us got together, we were discussing the celebration of the Lord's Evening Meal and our friend Neil asked, "Are you going to celebrate it on March 23rd or on April 22nd when the Jews celebrate the Passover?
I responded with complete surprise! I didn't know that there was any discrepancy as to the date Nisan 14. Why is there a difference between the date chosen by the Watchtower Society for Nisan 14 and the date chosen by the Jewish community for Nisan 14?
I have been doing some research on this matter. I hope to post something once I have things clearer in my head. You might like to research the question too and see what you find. Back to the computer for me. How wonderful is it to have the internet for research purposes?
If you are still interested in the reason for the differing dates, please see below.
I have been doing copious amounts of research on the Memorial date to ascertain the understanding behind the differing dates of March 23rd and April 22nd.
There are arguments on both sides and I was feeling confused and stressed and then I thought about how disappointed Jesus would be to see me stressed about it. I know that he and Jehovah would want us to focus on the meaning rather than the date. Nonetheless, we all want to do the best we can in pleasing them both.
I ended up doing some research about the frequency of the Lord's Supper since the reference I've been using mostly on this subject is 1 COR 11:20 onward and verse 26 says, "for as often as you eat this loaf and drink this cup, you keep proclaiming the death of the Lord, until he arrives." There does not seem to be a scriptural basis for any particular schedule of observance. 😯
I did a bit more research and found a thought provoking article with excellent scriptural reasoning. I want to share this article with you all and see what you think. 😉
The comment I particularly related to was about 'liberty'. Christian freedom is the essence of what we're learning now isn't it? And how wonderful is Christian freedom?! It allows us to express our love and appreciation freely from our hearts.
Here is the article:
I was thinking about the bread and wine for the Lord's Evening Meal and a question arose in my mind. What if someone was a coeliac and could not eat wheat? Or .... what if a Christian was a reformed alcoholic who would be ill-advised to drink wine? When I thought about these situations, it emphasised to me that the bread and wine were symbols and as such, the focus should be on the meaning of such symbols rather than the actual symbols themselves.
I imagine that most Christians would strive to have unleavened bread and red wine but if a person had a physical reason as to why actual bread and wine was harmful for them, surely neither Jesus nor his father would want that person to partake of those. In this case, you could imagine them partaking of something similar to bread and wine made with ingredients that were not harmful to them.
Once again this contemplation made me think in more spiritual terms than fleshly. It is our heartfelt gratitude and appreciation for the ransom, along with our obedience and respect for Jesus that is the focus of the celebration.