Simon’s Says ~ from Alan                                                                                                                                               

You may have seen the photo in this morning’s paper; it happens every year at this time. As the rising summer solstice sun shone between a pair of plinths at Stonehenge, a group of revelers (self-described pagan revelers, they) greeted the dawn at the occasion of the year’s longest day. And I thought to myself, “The church is missing an opportunity here.”

Here’s what I mean. The church has already adopted (co-opted?) a pair of pagan holidays: Saturnalia, which is part of another holiday called Sol Invictus; and the springtime feast of Eostre, a European form of the middle eastern goddess Astarte (if you’ve ever read James Michener’s The Source, you know more about Astarte than you ever expected to learn…).

Sol Invictus, or “the unconquered sun,” occurs on the date when the ancients could first begin to perceive the days getting longer following the winter solstice; that date is around December 25. Sound familiar? Most scholars agree that Jesus was actually born in mid-to-late March, but somehow the feast of the unconquered sun proved too tempting, and so the church has claimed the date as its own. As for the springtime feast of Eostre, well, you can guess which springtime church holiday corresponds to this, you only need to change the “o” to an “a” and reverse the final two letters.

But the church has nothing to correspond to the summer solstice – except maybe, maybe, Children’s Day and Choir Appreciation Sunday? (No, no, I’m not calling our kids or choristers pagan…) Though I will admit, in these glorious late spring/early summer days, it does seem as though all creation is rejoicing the only way she knows how: wild bouquets of bright colors, a dazzling array of aromas and scents, avian choruses singing up the sun in the morning and small armies of fireflies easing its setting. Surely this is celebration enough!

Happy solstice, all ~

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