Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Vernal Equinox

Listen, Heavens, I have something to tell you. Attention, Earth, I’ve got a mouth full of words. My teaching, let it fall like a gentle rain, my words arrive like morning dew, Like a sprinkling rain on new grass, like spring showers on the garden. For it’s GOD’s Name I’m preaching—respond to the greatness of our God! Deuteronomy 32:1-3 MSG

Today is the first day of spring—on the calendar. Sometime yesterday or today, the Sun stood over our equator, and day and night are about equal in length all over the world. If you live in a southern clime, it’s been spring for weeks already, when your African daisies, iris, desert poppies, and ranunculas were at optimum bloom. If you live in northern areas, as my grandparents did, today is a day of rejoicing that the snow and ice will soon recede.

Astronomers built monuments to mark this date: the Sphinx, Stonehenge, and innumerable temples. They held fertility rites, and rejoiced that their crops would soon be producing fresh food. Jews mark Passover at the first full moon after the equinox, and Christians celebrate Easter on the first Sunday after Passover. It’s no accident that sunrise ceremonies, rabbits, eggs, and the fertility goddess, Ishtar/Ashtoreth [>“Easter”], are connected to the Christian celebration of Jesus’ resurrection from the grave. But don’t let avoiding the pagan rituals stop you thanking and celebrating Jesus for His sacrifice and resurrection!

God put our earth on a schedule marked by the relational movements of sun, moon, planets, and stars. He set feasts, celebrations, and rest days by the astronomical calendar. Where we stand in relation to sunlight influences our food crops, our health, even our skin color. In the 21st century, we are privileged to have not only the Book of Nature to teach us of God’s love and care for us, but the Bible of His redemptive works and character, and the cumulative research and wisdom of His servants, ministers, and teachers. Rejoice in the newness of the season, and remember the Creator all the time.

Look around you: Winter is over; the winter rains are over, gone! Spring flowers are in blossom all over. The whole world's a choir—and singing! Spring warblers are filling the forest with sweet arpeggios. Lilacs are exuberantly purple and perfumed, and cherry trees fragrant with blossoms. Song of Songs 2:10 MSG

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