It’s Groundhog Day, or is it? (365)

Today we celebrate a high holy day when people anticipate a miraculous foretelling of the future. I refer, of course, to Groundhog Day. On this day every year Punxsutawney Phil sticks his head up and predicts the weather that is to come. Of course, today is also the Feast of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple, when we celebrate the revelation of Jesus as the world’s Savior, where Simeon & Anna stick their heads up in the temple and proclaim Jesus to be the savior of all people. So, that’s a challenge, among others, for living in today’s world. While the culture is saying it’s Groundhog Day, we’re saying it’s the Feast of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple. Where we see God’s revelation, others see the swami, the seer of weather, Punxsutawney Phil.

We’d like to believe we’re so sophisticated that we’re no longer shaped by superstition. Yet, we often seem to be more dazzled by the spectacular than we are by God’s straight-forward revelation among real people living real circumstances. Our penchant for superstition can lead us to see God as a divine magician always ready to pull a rabbit out of his cosmic hat, shaping us to believe that God only works in spectacular ways. Now, that’s not to say that God doesn’t work in such ways. That’s not my point. Where we go wrong is when we see God as a divine faucet we can turn on when we need something spectacular and can just as easily turn off when we don’t. How many people do you know (maybe you?) who only pray when they need something big from God? That’s certainly how our culture depicts prayer. You’ve seen the movies. The hero is in a tough jam. He’s not sure exactly how he’s going to make it through. So, he pauses and says something like: “Lord, you know I never asked you for much, but this time I need a big favor.” If that isn’t accurate, then there’d never be another country song written!

This distorts our understanding of God’s work in the world, besides being at odds with Scripture. Remember, Jesus came into the world so that you, I, and everyone else would be reconciled to God. Put simply, he came to forgive our sins on the cross. But for some folks that’s not spectacular enough. Or maybe, it’s just too personal? To acknowledge that forgiving our sins and reconciling us to God is what Jesus came to do means we must admit that our real sins need God’s reconciliation. Some would rather focus on the Virgin Mary’s image on some random water tower because they don’t want to face what Jesus is really all about. It hits too close to home. It’s way too personal.

Jesus came to meet us in the “everydayness” of our lives as they really are. He came with a simple message: God loves us so much that God can’t bear to see us separated from God’s presence. It was among the blood and spittle of the cross that God accomplished our forgiveness. It was in the real life and the real death of Jesus on the cross that God revealed the most important message ever delivered to humanity. And it was in his resurrection from the dead that this amazing message was ratified for all eternity.

This is where God meets us and redeems us: In the real life and the real death of each of us. I’d call that big and spectacular, but then again, I still think February 2nd is the Feast of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple.



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