This week, my head is doing things with layers. And it’s the layers of my geekdom intersecting for some interesting theology going on.
Part the first: My Hebrew Scriptures professor had a thing about emphasizing the Covenant. (This is unsurprising if you know she’s a Presbyterian pastor – they have a thing about the Covenant.) The ancient contracts between God and Noah, God and Abraham, God and Moses, and the ancillary implied and explicit contracts of God with their descendants and peoples fuel so much of the history of Israel as people and nation. Our God is a God of relationships, and many of those historical relationships are defined in terms of abiding by or breaking the contracts formed on an individual and corporate basis.
Part the second: English Common Law enshrines the Quarter Days, those days when people are hired and fired, when contracts start and end, debts settled, and rural courts are in session. Lady Day (Mar 25), Midsummer (June 22), Michelmas (Sept 29), and Christmas (Dec 25) marked transitional days from roughly the 12th century onward. Yearlong contracts, multiyear contracts, purchases/sales, real estate contracts and leases tended to begin on Lady Day, to the point that it was the beginning of the English fiscal year.* This makes sense, because it’s just before planting, travel is relatively easy, and everything else is starting to grow. So, traditionally (in the sense of Good Anglican Tradition, or the similar one that lives in my head as a medievalist) contracts, especially long term contracts, are supposed to start and end on March 25.
There is a strong conservative theological tradition of Christ being the fulfilment of the covenant – neither we nor God can make a larger sacrifice or pay the contracted price in a more significant manner than what happened/will happen on Good Friday, and this year, that happens on Lady Day. So my layers really involve the beginning and ending and rewriting of the long term contract on the day that all contracts begin, end, or when the terms are rewritten. Christ’s death stamps a giant PAID IN FULL on the bottom of the covenantal contract between God and Israel…and also begins a different contract, terms spelled out previous to payment by payee (Christ) on behalf of mortal parties to contract, by and between said mortal parties and God, Maker of Heaven and Earth, etc. (God). Said terms and provisions to be held as contract in perpetuity by all parties, the participatory involvement of mortal parties being a matter of Free Will, predestination, or none of the above, case to be adjucated at a later future date to be determined.
*Is still kinda the beginning of the English fiscal year. When the calendar shifted from Greogorian to Julian, the date shifted to April 6. However, the Feast of the Annunciation of Our Lord to the Blessed Virgin Mary stayed on March 25.