Autumnal Equinox 2012

Say “Autumnal Equinox” aloud. Notice the way it rolls off the tongue? “Autumnal Equinox” is a phrase I love to say.

In the Northern Hemisphere, the autumnal equinox comes at 9:49 CDT today, September 22. It marks the beginning of fall and a time when day and night are equal (from the Latin words aequus “equal” and nox “night”). Well, sort of equal. If you look at the time for sunrise in your area and then look at the time for sunset, you’ll notice that it doesn’t add up to exactly 12 hours of daylight. The Old Farmer’s Almanac explains it this way:

On the equinoxes, the very center of the Sun sets just 12 hours after it rises. But the day begins when the upper edge of the Sun reaches the horizon (which happens a bit before the center rises), and it doesn’t end until the entire Sun has set. Not only that, but the Sun is actually visible when it is below the horizon, as Earth’s atmosphere refracts the Sun’s rays and bends them in an arc over the horizon. According to our former astronomer, George Greenstein, “If the Sun were to shrink to a starlike point and we lived in a world without air, the spring and fall equinoxes would truly have ‘equal nights.'”

Here’s a short and sweet article on the autumnal equinox from September Equinox.

Here’s a slightly longer, but quick to read article at Everything you need to know: September equinox 2012.

And here’s an interesting and informative article with charts from the Capital Weather Gang at the Washington Post: Autumnal equinox bring first day of fall Saturday morning.

This website features a NASA video showing an autumnal equinox from space: Our Amazing Planet.

And if you scroll down at this Huffington Post page, you’ll see a link to a live map of sunlight on the earth.

If you want to see the earth’s position at the autumnal and vernal equinoxes, as well as the winter and summer solstices, check out the graphic at eSky’s Autumnal Equinox page.

I love to say “Autumnal Equinox,” but I also love thinking about it. Why? Because it reminds me that God is a God of order who causes the seasons to come and go in their appointed times with precise regularity. He created the sun and the earth and controls their relationship with each other. Just as he keeps the earth spinning straight on its axis today, he keeps my life from spinning out of control.

Do you feel as if you’re spinning your wheels and getting nowhere? Do busyness and stress make you feel like things are spinning out of control? Hit the pause button of your thoughts and take time to praise God for creation’s rhythm. Extol him for creating a complex, but orderly cosmos. Thank him for continuing to control all things so you don’t have to. Rest in the Lord!


Praise God! (Psalm 150)

The last psalm in the psalter rings with praise. It particularly emphasizes instrumental praise, and since it begins with a direct reference to God’s sanctuary, it seems a powerful argument for using all kinds of instruments in worship.

It begins with a call to praise God in worship and in the vast expanses of his creation (Psalm 150:1, ESV):

Praise the LORD!
Praise God in his sanctuary;
   praise him in his mighty heavens!

The psalm continues with reasons why God deserves praise (2, ESV):

Praise him for his mighty deeds;
   praise him according to his excellent greatness!

Because God has done great and excellent things, he deserves great and excellent praise. Talented musicians are called to praise God with a variety of instruments, not in noisy cacophony but in beautiful and vibrant harmony (verses 3-5, ESV):

Praise him with trumpet sound;
   praise him with lute and harp!
Praise him with tambourine and dance;
   praise him with strings and pipe!
Praise him with sounding cymbals;
   praise him with loud clashing cymbals!

Every creature that breathes should praise the Lord (6, ESV):

Let everything that has breath praise the LORD!
Praise the LORD!

We are called to praise God in his sanctuary. We are called to praise God under his blue sky and starry heavens. God deserves great and excellent praise because he has done great and excellent things. Musicians and artists ought to praise God with all kinds of instruments or media. Every creature that lives and breathes on the face of the earth is called to use their talents and abilities to praise God.

At this time of year, when the leaves turn brilliant colors and farmer harvest plentiful crops, our hearts should overflow with praise to God for his abundant gifts.

Psalm 150 may have been singing in my mind some years ago when I wrote this poem:

Autumnal Psalm

Praise God

For gleaming star that crowns the gilded dawn
For frost that clings to shingled roof and lawn

For breath that fogs in air that’s crisp and clear
For flashing flags of startled antlered deer

For sunlight’s glint on frost-wrapped blades of grass
And even for the windshield’s frosted glass

Praise God

For warming sun in sky of sapphire blue
that glows through leaves in every varied hue

From flaming maple, russet oak, to gold
of elm’s frail pale and hickory’s brilliant bold

Above the clinging, crimson creeper vine
Beside the scarlet sumac and green pine

Praise God

For dry leaf crunch and dry leaf smell
While walking on the woodland trail

Praise God

For brunette bean field shaven clean
And blonde corn’s crooked stubble seen

For round bales, wrapped and stacked in rows
Rich fodder safe from winds and snows

For golden mountains of shelled corn
that suddenly in fall are born

And daily augered to new height
in dusty cloud from morn to night

Praise God

For geese in Vs that cleave the dusky sky
While purple clouds upon horizon lie

For rising amber harvest moon
like bulging shimmering balloon

Praise God

Let everything that hath breath
Praise the Lord

© Glenda Faye Mathes