North Highland United Methodist Church
Sunday, November 29, 2020
Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors

February 2016

On February 2 we hope that an infamous ground-hog, Phil, has good news for us. This tradition of relying on a rodent to tell us whether or not it would be an early spring by way of seeing or not seeing his shadow, began in 1887. And it actually has its roots in the ancient Christian celebrationof Candlemas Day when clergy would bless and distribute candles needed for winter. The candles represented how long and cold the winter would be. Germans expanded on this concept by selecting a hedge hog as a means of predicting weather. Once they came to America, German settlers in Pennsylvania continued the tradition, but switched groundhogs, which were plentiful and easily available.
Several years ago a movie called Groundhog Day made its way to the theaters. Perhaps you remember it—the main character played by Bill Murray finds himself Punxsutawney, PA, and stuck living the same day over and over again. He awakens each morning and it’s Groundhog Day—and the same exact routine is repeated day after day. He becomes more and more cynical.
But then comes love—and it is love that cause him to realize he is stuck in the same loop. He falls for “Rita” and has a new calling or a new mission. He does everything he can to learn about her, and even better, begins to change his own ways in hopes of winning her love. Now he embraces the life he is in, and uses it to reach out and embrace another. He takes the most mundane and routine day and makes it the best he possibly can—he helps an annoying person, gets to actually know the people he sees day after day, and eventually realizes his own faults. He begins to embrace others which makes him a more enlightened person, as he realizes the gifts inherent in others.
So does this speak to us? Do we sometimes live as if every day is the same and routine—just going through repeated motions? Are we now or have we ever been “stuck” in sameness or as Murray’s character did, see first the faults of others, and allow that to be our focus? Love can change us too! And it is love that is Good News—even better news than that of an early spring! The love of God is around us and within us and among us—may we never be too stuck in our own Ground Hog day kind of living to not realize that love. The more we become aware of God’s ultimate and powerful love known in Jesus Christ, the more enlightened we become, the more we see the value in others and the more we are able to be transformed into kingdom-builders for God.
Come near to God, and God will come near to you. James 4:8a
Whether an early or late spring, God’s love will most certainly shine on us!