The month of August is a special time of year. It has around 30 days or so, like any other, but it has characteristics that make it stand out.
For instance, it is one of the hottest times of the year and a major player in the season that in the Old Farmer’s Almanac is called “Dog Days.” The almanac says it runs from July 3 to Aug. 11, and it coincides with the dawn rising of the Dog Star, Sirius.
It is usually characterized by hot days and high humidity, as the air-conditioners run to keep people cool, and short sleeves and short pants are the norm. By then, people are longing for the cool of winter, and it will be here soon enough.
August is also a time of closings. Summer jobs come to an end. Vacations are usually finished up. People usually stop rambling around the country or the nation and prepare for the fall when we see them around a little more. Air fares and cruise ship prices begin to lower for those who are looking for bargains.
It is also a time of new beginnings. Rally Day, in early September, is a time when people make new commitments to church and Sunday School. People who have been scarce during the summer jump back in, and pastors and congregations are thankful for their return and participation.
Colleges and all tiers of schools mostly begin again in August, unless they are year-round now. Yellow school buses ply the thoroughfares taking kids to school, parents and grandparents gear up to see who does what, and we need to be careful as we drive, so they can arrive safely.
The word august, among its many definitions, has at its root the concept of inspiring reverence or admiration. Very close to that thought is the term “worshipful.”
So when we hear the term “August” during this month, let us remember that the purpose for which we were created was to have reverence for God and people. Great speechmakers used to say, “Friend, on this August day,” (“we are doing something very important”, is the next phrase.”)
Making sure to honor rather than criticize is one of the greatest tasks of the Christian. Day by day we seek to build up, to make it an August day for us and the people we meet. Not to see them as kings or conquerors, but as friends and fellow citizens of earth and heaven. When we see them that way, as important, good and equal, we can then say and do things that come out of that love and respect.
Augustus Caesar was a great Roman Emperor not because he reigned over the Roman Empire for 41 years until 14 AD, or that he began 200 years of peace known as the Pax Romana. (okay that does sound pretty big). Still, his major claim to fame for us is that he happened to be Emperor when Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem. Pretty sure that did not happen in August, but some scholars say it could have been late summer or early fall, which is where we are at the time of this writing in the beginning of August.
Our days are certainly august because God is in us, and God is awesome all the time. The scripture says that we are the temple of God and that God dwells in us, so there you go.
Another meaning of the word august is “magnificent.” What can we do to make our time on earth magnificent?
Some try to fill it with fun or get a lot of money or other things that seem good to do at the moment, but are they magnificent?
As Solomon, the richest and smartest king of Israel, wrote in his later days, “Vanity of vanities, … vanity of vanities! All is vanity. What does man gain by all the toil at which he toils under the sun? A generation goes, and a generation comes, but the earth remains forever.” Ecclesiastes 1:1-4
What we can do to make our time on Earth magnificent is to realize that we are a servant, a temporary resident placed here by God, and that his purposes, not ours are most important. When we realize this and spend our days serving God and others, then we will find holy and divine magnificence. God is the only one who can make this life august in the highest sense of the word for us.
So, remember, the Roman Empire was the greatest civilization men ever created, and they tried to stamp out Christianity. Now, thousands of years later, the greatest, most august force on earth is still the Christian faith.
Civilizations and generations will come and go, but God will work his august purposes day by day in his people and for all who walk with him. Hopefully, we will realize and participate in this before it is too late.