September beginnings

I looked at the calendar the other day and realized that summer is gone. Maybe it was because we had such a cool, rainy July or maybe it was because I have been out of commission with a broken ankle since June – whatever kept me from noticing, I am grieving the passing of summer this year.

School has already started for some kids around the country and will be starting next week for most local kids. The hot days spent around the swimming pool, the fun-filled nights of chasing fireflies and roasting marshmallows will soon be only memories of the summer of 2009.

When I was a kid I remember having mixed emotions about the end of summer. I always looked forward to school starting because I really liked school. I was anxious to hang out with my friends again and catch up on all their news. School wasn’t just about learning, it was a social experience.

But it was a sad time too, because it meant that I would have to get up earlier, work on my homework when I got home and my goofing around time was really diminished.

I view the end of summer differently as an adult. My work schedule is the same whether school is in session or not. The end of summer that I envision includes higher utility bills, icy mornings and heavy winter coats.

But there is something to be said about September, it marks the return of a routine. There is something comforting about living within guidelines and restraints. I guess having routines helps us know what is expected of us, when it is expected and what to expect from others.

The last hurrah of summer will be celebrated on Labor Day weekend with cookouts, festivals and fireworks and we will officially bid farewell to the summer of 2009.

As I write these words, I am reminded of festivals mandated by God to the Jewish people. He specifically set times aside for them to celebrate His provision and come together to worship Him.

Two of the festivals are coming up in September. Rosh Hashanah will begin at sundown on Sept. 18 and continue through Sept. 28 when the Jewish people will celebrate Yom Kippur.

Rosh Hashanah is the first day of the Jewish New Year, this year they celebrate the year 5770. Rosh Hashanah is considered one of the high holy days. The shofar horn is blown to herald the beginning of the 10 holy days between the two celebrations. (The shofar is a musical instrument made from a rams horn, it is blown to announce an important event.)

Yom Kippur is the day of atonement and is set aside for fasting, reflection and prayers. It was on that day that the priest would enter the holy of holies and offer the blood of a bull for the sins of the people. This was only done once a year and was considered the most sacred of all Jewish Sabbaths.

I’m not Jewish, but I am a believer in God and to think that the creation of the world is celebrated in September just seems so proper. The autumn is a good time for the new year to be celebrated, so goodbye summer and blow the shofar horn to usher in the new.

God mandates the blowing of the shofar in Leviticus 23:24, “On the first day of the seventh month you are to have a day of rest, a sacred assembly commemorated with trumpet blasts. Do no regular work, but present an offering made to the Lord by fire.”