Saturday, November 12, 2011

Concerning Times & Seasons
by Fred & Gloria Strickert

Credit Propst Uwe Graebe
Wednesday midnight -- on 9 November
A ring around the moon
A halo above Redeemer Tower

A halo appropriately marks the call for our servant community
gathered weekly in the worship space below.

A halo also seems an appropriate sign for a city of three religions
Especially in the culmination of a season of holiness
Of rituals and songs and prayers
Of time set aside for reflection.
  • Eid al-adha -- the Muslims' Feast of the Sacrifice at the height of the Hajj
  • Rosh HaShana & Yom Kippur followed by Succoth & Simchat Torah--High Holy Days for Jews
  • All Saints Day -- and for Lutherans also Reformation Day.
In the Midwest (USA), folklore says a ring around moon means a change in the weather.
A winter storm's a comin'.
Or just a change?
So, does this mean it's snowing in Minnesota?
Or stormy days for Jerusalem?

Last week, Jerusalem experienced its first rainfall of the season.
Seven months of dry hot weather have come to an end, L'hamdilla.
the days are getting shorter,
the temperatures are dropping,
our sweaters and gloves have come out of storage,
and we pray many heavy rains will soon follow
filling empty stone cisterns,
refreshing the hillsides,
and turning desert brown landscapes to life-filled sprouts of green. 

"Now concerning the times and the seasons, I have no need to write. . . "
says Paul in 1 Thessalonians 5:1 (Epistle lesson for Pentecost 22)

The changes are natural and expected.
They are observed and well-noted.
How can one expand on the obvious?

The view out the door of our house, walking to gate reminds us of the changing times.             After a month of the olive harvest, the trees have been pruned, branches destined as fuel for the fire, but trees cut back for next year's crop-- a better harvest of olives, inshallah--hope for the future.

The times and seasons
All the while, messages of hope are countered by threats of a new Middle East war with rhetoric and rationales voiced in government news conferences and newspaper editorials.  With this backdrop we drove to Galilee two weeks ago for Fred to film a National Geographic television program at Bethsaida, constantly interrupted by the sounds of Israeli fighter jets and bombers flying overhead with practice runs to northern destinations, and on the highway an occasional tank transported toward the Golan.

Our schedules here make it difficult to keep up with Fred's archaeological interests.   Here's a link to Fred's book on Bethsaida published last spring.  One thing archaeologists understand is change.  Sites like Bethsaida provide a sober reminder, not just of the antiquity of this land and its thousands of years of human stories, but also the arrivals and departures of various peoples, the cycles of building and destruction, the times of prosperity and the seasons of war. Walking the old stone streets of Bethsaida, history comes face to face with current political intrigue.             
The times and seasons. . . .

. . . yet not bringing a destiny of wrath and despair, so says Paul in 1 Thessalonians 5:9.

"The times are a changing," so the ring around the moon would suggest.

There's a scientific explanation.
It's water in the atmosphere
ice crystals high in the atmosphere reflecting the moon's light
which, in turn, is a reflection of the sun.
So, ring around the moon = light + water.

You are children of light, so Paul in verse 5.

And we gather weekly at the baptismal font.
And so it was that our Sunday morning's children sermon and Sunday School hour focused on baptism.  Our International English-speaking congregation with children from Sweden, Finland, Palestine, Scotland, and the USA-- all gathered around the baptismal font, and marked with the cross of Christ, water on the forehead, children of God, children of light.

The sign of the cross at the font --"Who is my family" art project
The times and seasons
One more piece of folk lore:
Count the stars in the space between the moon and its ring
to discover how long until that winter storm hits.

Stars or children of light?

Last Sunday to Tuesday, we participated in the Sahiroon Youth Leadership Development gathering at a retreat center in Nazareth.

Bible Reading: "Put on the breastplate of faith and love. . . the helmet of the hope of salvation."   1 Thess. 5:8
With singing
And study
Sharing with one another
"Therefore, encourage one another             & build each other up."  1 Thess. 5:11
Sahiroon Photo Credits: Elly McHan
Children of Light -- Stars within the ring around the moon.

by Fred &Gloria Strickert