Next-to-last Thursday in February. Ready for Winter to be nothing but an unpleasant memory.
There are, sadly, at least two more hurdles. First, the weathercasters tell us that the next few days are going to be nice, with highs above freezing and some in the 40's, even the upper 40's. Yippee! And then, next week, another bout of ghastly storms and hideously low temperatures. Snow and ice and all of that. After that, perhaps, another short break.
But then we look ahead to one of the unfortunate traditions of the area. Not a planned tradition, a voluntary custom. Just a Thing that all-too-often occurs. The St. Patrick's Day Blizzard tradition. St. Patrick's Day, March 17th. Mark it on the calendar. That will be an eventful week anyway: Sunday the 13th begins Daylight Savings Time around here, then St. Pat's on the 17th, then first day of Spring on the 20th. Now, Spring doesn't mean green grass, sunshine, flip-flops, etc. Not here. We've often had SNOW a month, or more, into Spring. It is, nonetheless, a happy reminder and date marker. Can't come soon enough.
Oh, and living where we do, with a very high proportion of -- at least -- "cultural Catholics with either Irish or Italian ancestry, St. Pat's is a Very Big Deal. For those who don't know, St. Patrick was originally Italian, or at least of Italian parentage, who ended up in Ireland bringing the faith to the pagans there. Some of my Italian friends always referred to him as Pasquale. I have no opinion. But there are many churches and at least two schools nearby named St. Patrick's.
So that's something. Still a month off though.
Dear Wife is still ailing, so I "got" to make a Wally World run earlier. Off over hill and dale through the ice and snow. It was all of 10 degrees outside when I woke. Up to 28 now, with a low of 16. Cold, but beats the sub-zero temps of a few days ago. Tomorrow is supposed to make it up to 49 and may hit 60 by Saturday. We shall see.
The nearest WallyWorld is across the line into Pennsylvania. I have many relatives, on both sides, who live in PA. They like it. I hate it. There may be a more inept bunch of dolts in the world than PennDOT (the water department in Flint, for example), but not many. The roads are dreadful, the planning of them a disgrace, and the arrangement of traffic signals would embarrass a sheltered workshop. From the time I leave home until I arrive at the destination, I pass 21 traffic lights. This morning, I stopped at Every.Single,One. All. Several of which turned green, just so you could see, a block away, the next one turning red. Several of which had ZERO traffic going the other way. Operated solely on a timer. Some of which NEVER have ANY cross traffic. But still operate.
PENNDOT is run by idiots. But then, ODOT (the Ohio version) is little better, if at all.
This, particularly in PA, due to Harrisburg being the Only Source of True Wisdom in the entire commonwealth, means all decisions are made by far-distant anonymous (and unfireable) bureaucrats with a sick sense of humor.
Oh , well. Every one has a pet peeve. Bad roads and stupid traffic signals are mine.
The Old Testament reading is chapters 26 and 27 of Leviticus. This completes the walk through Leviticus.
Some direct commands, and dire warnings here. Lots of promises that IF the people will obey the Lord, they will be blessed. If they refuse, the consequences will be harsh.
Then I look at our world, and particularly our nation. We too -- and I include myself -- have not only failed to obey, we've loudly refused to do so. And yet expect His blessings, which now we regard as just the natural order of things. Except it's not. This will not turn out well.
Ye shall make you no idols nor graven image, neither rear you up a standing image, neither shall ye set up any image of stone in your land, to bow down unto it: for I am the LORD your God.
Ye shall keep my sabbaths, and reverence my sanctuary: I am the LORD.
If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them;
Then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit.
And your threshing shall reach unto the vintage, and the vintage shall reach unto the sowing time: and ye shall eat your bread to the full, and dwell in your land safely.
And I will give peace in the land, and ye shall lie down, and none shall make you afraid: and I will rid evil beasts out of the land, neither shall the sword go through your land.
And ye shall chase your enemies, and they shall fall before you by the sword.
And five of you shall chase an hundred, and an hundred of you shall put ten thousand to flight: and your enemies shall fall before you by the sword.
For I will have respect unto you, and make you fruitful, and multiply you, and establish my covenant with you.
And ye shall eat old store, and bring forth the old because of the new.
And I set my tabernacle among you: and my soul shall not abhor you.
And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my people.
I am the LORD your God, which brought you forth out of the land of Egypt, that ye should not be their bondmen; and I have broken the bands of your yoke, and made you go upright.
But if ye will not hearken unto me, and will not do all these commandments;
And if ye shall despise my statutes, or if your soul abhor my judgments, so that ye will not do all my commandments, but that ye break my covenant:
I also will do this unto you; I will even appoint over you terror, consumption, and the burning ague, that shall consume the eyes, and cause sorrow of heart: and ye shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it.
And I will set my face against you, and ye shall be slain before your enemies: they that hate you shall reign over you; and ye shall flee when none pursueth you.
And if ye will not yet for all this hearken unto me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins.
And I will break the pride of your power; and I will make your heaven as iron, and your earth as brass:
And your strength shall be spent in vain: for your land shall not yield her increase, neither shall the trees of the land yield their fruits.
And if ye walk contrary unto me, and will not hearken unto me; I will bring seven times more plagues upon you according to your sins.
I will also send wild beasts among you, which shall rob you of your children, and destroy your cattle, and make you few in number; and your high ways shall be desolate.
And if ye will not be reformed by me by these things, but will walk contrary unto me;
Then will I also walk contrary unto you, and will punish you yet seven times for your sins.
And I will bring a sword upon you, that shall avenge the quarrel of my covenant: and when ye are gathered together within your cities, I will send the pestilence among you; and ye shall be delivered into the hand of the enemy.
And when I have broken the staff of your bread, ten women shall bake your bread in one oven, and they shall deliver you your bread again by weight: and ye shall eat, and not be satisfied.
And if ye will not for all this hearken unto me, but walk contrary unto me;
Then I will walk contrary unto you also in fury; and I, even I, will chastise you seven times for your sins.
And ye shall eat the flesh of your sons, and the flesh of your daughters shall ye eat.
And I will destroy your high places, and cut down your images, and cast your carcasses upon the carcasses of your idols, and my soul shall abhor you.
And I will make your cities waste, and bring your sanctuaries unto desolation, and I will not smell the savor of your sweet odors.
And I will bring the land into desolation: and your enemies which dwell therein shall be astonished at it.
And I will scatter you among the heathen, and will draw out a sword after you: and your land shall be desolate, and your cities waste.
Then shall the land enjoy her sabbaths, as long as it lieth desolate, and ye be in your enemies' land; even then shall the land rest, and enjoy her sabbaths.
As long as it lieth desolate it shall rest; because it did not rest in your sabbaths, when ye dwelt upon it.
And upon them that are left alive of you I will send a faintness into their hearts in the lands of their enemies; and the sound of a shaken leaf shall chase them; and they shall flee, as fleeing from a sword; and they shall fall when none pursueth.
And they shall fall one upon another, as it were before a sword, when none pursueth: and ye shall have no power to stand before your enemies.
And ye shall perish among the heathen, and the land of your enemies shall eat you up.
And they that are left of you shall pine away in their iniquity in your enemies' lands; and also in the iniquities of their fathers shall they pine away with them.
If they shall confess their iniquity, and the iniquity of their fathers, with their trespass which they trespassed against me, and that also they have walked contrary unto me;
And that I also have walked contrary unto them, and have brought them into the land of their enemies; if then their uncircumcised hearts be humbled, and they then accept of the punishment of their iniquity:
Then will I remember my covenant with Jacob, and also my covenant with Isaac, and also my covenant with Abraham will I remember; and I will remember the land.
The land also shall be left of them, and shall enjoy her sabbaths, while she lieth desolate without them: and they shall accept of the punishment of their iniquity: because, even because they despised my judgments, and because their soul abhorred my statutes.
And yet for all that, when they be in the land of their enemies, I will not cast them away, neither will I abhor them, to destroy them utterly, and to break my covenant with them: for I am the LORD their God.
But I will for their sakes remember the covenant of their ancestors, whom I brought forth out of the land of Egypt in the sight of the heathen, that I might be their God: I am the LORD.
These are the statutes and judgments and laws, which the LORD made between him and the children of Israel in mount Sinai by the hand of Moses.
And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When a man shall make a singular vow, the persons shall be for the LORD by thy estimation.
And thy estimation shall be of the male from twenty years old even unto sixty years old, even thy estimation shall be fifty shekels of silver, after the shekel of the sanctuary.
And if it be a female, then thy estimation shall be thirty shekels.
And if it be from five years old even unto twenty years old, then thy estimation shall be of the male twenty shekels, and for the female ten shekels.
And if it be from a month old even unto five years old, then thy estimation shall be of the male five shekels of silver, and for the female thy estimation shall be three shekels of silver.
And if it be from sixty years old and above; if it be a male, then thy estimation shall be fifteen shekels, and for the female ten shekels.
But if he be poorer than thy estimation, then he shall present himself before the priest, and the priest shall value him; according to his ability that vowed shall the priest value him.
And if it be a beast, whereof men bring an offering unto the LORD, all that any man giveth of such unto the LORD shall be holy.
He shall not alter it, nor change it, a good for a bad, or a bad for a good: and if he shall at all change beast for beast, then it and the exchange thereof shall be holy.
And if it be any unclean beast, of which they do not offer a sacrifice unto the LORD, then he shall present the beast before the priest:
And the priest shall value it, whether it be good or bad: as thou valuest it, who art the priest, so shall it be.
But if he will at all redeem it, then he shall add a fifth part thereof unto thy estimation.
And when a man shall sanctify his house to be holy unto the LORD, then the priest shall estimate it, whether it be good or bad: as the priest shall estimate it, so shall it stand.
And if he that sanctified it will redeem his house, then he shall add the fifth part of the money of thy estimation unto it, and it shall be his.
And if a man shall sanctify unto the LORD some part of a field of his possession, then thy estimation shall be according to the seed thereof: an homer of barley seed shall be valued at fifty shekels of silver.
If he sanctify his field from the year of jubilee, according to thy estimation it shall stand.
But if he sanctify his field after the jubilee, then the priest shall reckon unto him the money according to the years that remain, even unto the year of the jubilee, and it shall be abated from thy estimation.
And if he that sanctified the field will in any wise redeem it, then he shall add the fifth part of the money of thy estimation unto it, and it shall be assured to him.
And if he will not redeem the field, or if he have sold the field to another man, it shall not be redeemed any more.
But the field, when it goeth out in the jubilee, shall be holy unto the LORD, as a field devoted; the possession thereof shall be the priest's.
And if a man sanctify unto the LORD a field which he hath bought, which is not of the fields of his possession;
Then the priest shall reckon unto him the worth of thy estimation, even unto the year of the jubilee: and he shall give thine estimation in that day, as a holy thing unto the LORD.
In the year of the jubilee the field shall return unto him of whom it was bought, even to him to whom the possession of the land did belong.
And all thy estimations shall be according to the shekel of the sanctuary: twenty gerahs shall be the shekel.
Only the firstling of the beasts, which should be the LORD's firstling, no man shall sanctify it; whether it be ox, or sheep: it is the LORD's.
And if it be of an unclean beast, then he shall redeem it according to thine estimation, and shall add a fifth part of it thereto: or if it be not redeemed, then it shall be sold according to thy estimation.
Notwithstanding no devoted thing, that a man shall devote unto the LORD of all that he hath, both of man and beast, and of the field of his possession, shall be sold or redeemed: every devoted thing is most holy unto the LORD.
None devoted, which shall be devoted of men, shall be redeemed; but shall surely be put to death.
And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is the LORD's: it is holy unto the LORD.
And if a man will at all redeem ought of his tithes, he shall add thereto the fifth part thereof.
And concerning the tithe of the herd, or of the flock, even of whatsoever passeth under the rod, the tenth shall be holy unto the LORD.
He shall not search whether it be good or bad, neither shall he change it: and if he change it at all, then both it and the change thereof shall be holy; it shall not be redeemed.
These are the commandments, which the LORD commanded Moses for the children of Israel in mount Sinai.
The New Testament reading is chapter 2 in the Gospel of Mark.
Jesus is already at odds with the "Establishment".
But I love the story in verses 3-12. There is a great song that goes with that.
And again he entered into Capernaum after some days; and it was noised that he was in the house.
And straightway many were gathered together, insomuch that there was no room to receive them, no, not so much as about the door: and he preached the word unto them.
And they come unto him, bringing one sick of the palsy, which was borne of four.
And when they could not come nigh unto him for the press, they uncovered the roof where he was: and when they had broken it up, they let down the bed wherein the sick of the palsy lay.
When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.
But there was certain of the scribes sitting there, and reasoning in their hearts,
Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? who can forgive sins but God only?
And immediately when Jesus perceived in his spirit that they so reasoned within themselves, he said unto them, Why reason ye these things in your hearts?
Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk?
But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (he saith to the sick of the palsy,)
I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house.
And immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went forth before them all; insomuch that they were all amazed, and glorified God, saying, We never saw it on this fashion.
And he went forth again by the sea side; and all the multitude resorted unto him, and he taught them.
And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the receipt of custom, and said unto him, Follow me. And he arose and followed him.
And it came to pass, that, as Jesus sat at meat in his house, many publicans and sinners sat also together with Jesus and his disciples: for there were many, and they followed him.
And when the scribes and Pharisees saw him eat with publicans and sinners, they said unto his disciples, How is it that he eateth and drinketh with publicans and sinners?
When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
And the disciples of John and of the Pharisees used to fast: and they come and say unto him, Why do the disciples of John and of the Pharisees fast, but thy disciples fast not?
And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber fast, while the bridegroom is with them? as long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast.
But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then shall they fast in those days.
No man also seweth a piece of new cloth on an old garment: else the new piece that filled it up taketh away from the old, and the rent is made worse.
And no man putteth new wine into old bottles: else the new wine doth burst the bottles, and the wine is spilled, and the bottles will be marred: but new wine must be put into new bottles.
And it came to pass, that he went through the corn fields on the sabbath day; and his disciples began, as they went, to pluck the ears of corn.
And the Pharisees said unto him, Behold, why do they on the sabbath day that which is not lawful?
And he said unto them, Have ye never read what David did, when he had need, and was an hungred, he, and they that were with him?
How he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and did eat the shewbread, which is not lawful to eat but for the priests, and gave also to them which were with him?
And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath:
Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.