Happy LAST DAY OF WINTER!! Hurrah! While in this part of the country, the Vernal Equinox does not mean that magical fairy dust turns everything to flowers and sunshine and barefoot weather, it does serve as a signal that better days are coming. Sunday's "high" is predicted to be 28 degrees, which is not warm by most standards, but since we've had "highs"in the single digits, it is a definite improvement. 70's would be better, but we shall see. The area in Lower Alabama we recently moved from has a predicted high tomorrow of 70 degrees, their low is set at 47 which is warmer than our high. I do miss that weather. But we are unlikely to hit triple digits during the summer and they often do. I won't miss that.
Anyway, tomorrow at 12:57 p.m. we mark the Vernal Equinox. God is good.
Yesterday's meeting with my brother went well, at least I thought so. We have been seriously estranged for the last three years at least, and really for more than 20 years. Long stories and different issues of life, probably sufficient blame to go around. Perhaps things are on the mend.
Heard last evening from another friend, one to whom I had been very close at one time. He's been through quite a lot, including the death of his wife and of one of their daughters. He's remarried since, someone who'd been a mutual friend. He's been retired for more than 10 years now, and his wife is preparing to do so too. She's recovering from a work-related injury now, meaning she's drawing short pay and they are having trouble getting by. Suspect they'll be leaving the area soon for warmer climes. Dear Wife thinks she's located another of my old friends today. We'd been Best Man at each other's weddings but I had not seen him for more than 22 years nor heard anything at all for about 15 years. So reconnecting to people is "interesting".
Dear Wife's medical appointment yesterday went very well indeed, and we expect to move on to the next phase of her treatment soon. She'll be calling her Primary tomorrow to set up the next move.
The Old Testament reading today is chapters 33 and 34 of Deuteronomy. This completes Deuteronomy. Chapter 33 is Moses's final farewell to the people. Moses is a towering figure in the faith, he it was who recorded nearly all the Pentateuch, the first five books, as the Lord directed. After leading the people for more than 40 years, his departure must have been a shock to them.
Chapter 34 is a brief coda to the book, and provides some transition to what follows.
And this is the blessing, wherewith Moses the man of God blessed the children of Israel before his death.
And he said, The LORD came from Sinai, and rose up from Seir unto them; he shined forth from mount Paran, and he came with ten thousands of saints: from his right hand went a fiery law for them.
Yea, he loved the people; all his saints are in thy hand: and they sat down at thy feet; every one shall receive of thy words.
Moses commanded us a law, even the inheritance of the congregation of Jacob.
And he was king in Jeshurun, when the heads of the people and the tribes of Israel were gathered together.
Let Reuben live, and not die; and let not his men be few.
And this is the blessing of Judah: and he said, Hear, LORD, the voice of Judah, and bring him unto his people: let his hands be sufficient for him; and be thou an help to him from his enemies.
And of Levi he said, Let thy Thummim and thy Urim be with thy holy one, whom thou didst prove at Massah, and with whom thou didst strive at the waters of Meribah;
Who said unto his father and to his mother, I have not seen him; neither did he acknowledge his brethren, nor knew his own children: for they have observed thy word, and kept thy covenant.
They shall teach Jacob thy judgments, and Israel thy law: they shall put incense before thee, and whole burnt sacrifice upon thine altar.
Bless, LORD, his substance, and accept the work of his hands; smite through the loins of them that rise against him, and of them that hate him, that they rise not again.
And of Benjamin he said, The beloved of the LORD shall dwell in safety by him; and the Lord shall cover him all the day long, and he shall dwell between his shoulders.
And of Joseph he said, Blessed of the LORD be his land, for the precious things of heaven, for the dew, and for the deep that coucheth beneath,
And for the precious fruits brought forth by the sun, and for the precious things put forth by the moon,
And for the chief things of the ancient mountains, and for the precious things of the lasting hills,
And for the precious things of the earth and fulness thereof, and for the good will of him that dwelt in the bush: let the blessing come upon the head of Joseph, and upon the top of the head of him that was separated from his brethren.
His glory is like the firstling of his bullock, and his horns are like the horns of unicorns: with them he shall push the people together to the ends of the earth: and they are the ten thousands of Ephraim, and they are the thousands of Manasseh.
And of Zebulun he said, Rejoice, Zebulun, in thy going out; and, Issachar, in thy tents.
They shall call the people unto the mountain; there they shall offer sacrifices of righteousness: for they shall suck of the abundance of the seas, and of treasures hid in the sand.
And of Gad he said, Blessed be he that enlargeth Gad: he dwelleth as a lion, and teareth the arm with the crown of the head.
And he provided the first part for himself, because there, in a portion of the lawgiver, was he seated; and he came with the heads of the people, he executed the justice of the LORD, and his judgments with Israel.
And of Dan he said, Dan is a lion's whelp: he shall leap from Bashan.
And of Naphtali he said, O Naphtali, satisfied with favor, and full with the blessing of the LORD: possess thou the west and the south.
And of Asher he said, Let Asher be blessed with children; let him be acceptable to his brethren, and let him dip his foot in oil.
Thy shoes shall be iron and brass; and as thy days, so shall thy strength be.
There is none like unto the God of Jeshurun, who rideth upon the heaven in thy help, and in his excellency on the sky.
The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms: and he shall thrust out the enemy from before thee; and shall say, Destroy them.
Israel then shall dwell in safety alone: the fountain of Jacob shall be upon a land of corn and wine; also his heavens shall drop down dew.
Happy art thou, O Israel: who is like unto thee, O people saved by the LORD, the shield of thy help, and who is the sword of thy excellency! and thine enemies shall be found liars unto thee; and thou shalt tread upon their high places.
And Moses went up from the plains of Moab unto the mountain of Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, that is over against Jericho. And the LORD showed him all the land of Gilead, unto Dan,
And all Naphtali, and the land of Ephraim, and Manasseh, and all the land of Judah, unto the utmost sea,
And the south, and the plain of the valley of Jericho, the city of palm trees, unto Zoar.
And the LORD said unto him, This is the land which I sware unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, saying, I will give it unto thy seed: I have caused thee to see it with thine eyes, but thou shalt not go over thither.
So Moses the servant of the LORD died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the LORD.
And he buried him in a valley in the land of Moab, over against Bethpeor: but no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day.
And Moses was an hundred and twenty years old when he died: his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated.
And the children of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days: so the days of weeping and mourning for Moses were ended.
And Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom; for Moses had laid his hands upon him: and the children of Israel hearkened unto him, and did as the LORD commanded Moses.
And there arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face,
In all the signs and the wonders, which the LORD sent him to do in the land of Egypt to Pharaoh, and to all his servants, and to all his land,
And in all that mighty hand, and in all the great terror which Moses showed in the sight of all Israel.
The New Testament reading is verses 24-56 of the 1st chapter in the Gospel of Luke. Yesterday, Elizabeth had an angelic visitor. Today, Mary does. We call it the Annuiciation now. And things get under way. Here we see the poetic words of Mary, what we call the Magnificat. Good to express what the Lord is doing in and for and through us.
And after those days his wife Elisabeth conceived, and hid herself five months, saying,
Thus hath the Lord dealt with me in the days wherein he looked on me, to take away my reproach among men.
And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth,
To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary.
And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.
And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.
And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.
And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.
He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:
And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.
Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?
And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.
And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.
For with God nothing shall be impossible.
And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.
And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda;
And entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth.
And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost:
And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.
And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.
And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord.
And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord,
And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name.
And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation.
He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree.
He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away.
He hath holpen his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy;
As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever.
And Mary abode with her about three months, and returned to her own house.