Today is February 2nd, traditionally known as Groundhog Day! It’s the day that we wait to see if Punxsutawney Phil comes out to see his shadow – letting us know whether we will have six more weeks of winter or not. And for those of you who may not have heard this year’s report, the groundhog saw his shadow and, therefore, the powers that be are predicting six more weeks of winter. This famous annual event takes place in Pennsylvania and it isn’t a new tradition. In fact, there is quite a bit of lore surrounding the whole production that started back in 1887.
After “Phil” leaves his den, Phil “communicates” his prediction to the Inner Circle of people who care for the groundhog throughout the year. Then, the president of the Inner Circle, the only one who can “understand” groundhog “speak”, announces the verdict to the assembled crowd. It is the same routine every year – as it has been for significantly more than a century.
Groundhog Day really hit the big time when Bill Murray starred in a movie by that name back in 1993. It many ways it has become a cult classic. The premise is that Bill wakes up each day stuck in Groundhog Day. He goes through the same motions day after day and keeps thinking that he can avoid the issues of each previous day, but he can’t. Each morning, the alarm goes off at the same time and the familiar routine starts all over again. Throughout the movie, Bill comes to realize that the best way to get through each day is to help others and you can see Bill’s humanity improve as the movie progresses. It became less about him and more about others. You could actually say that Bill comes to care for the people that he engages with and it is easy to see how the film has become a classic.
Which brings me to the point of tonight’s post. You see, since Janet broke her arm six weeks ago, things have been pretty much the same here day after day. It reminds me of Bill Murray in Groundhog Day every morning when I wake up. There are a host of routines that make up our daily sequence of events. Things such as making the bed, preparing the meals, doing the laundry and dishes, making the coffee, putting together the assortment of pills for the week each Sunday – and many more things that Janet has done automatically for years as I headed off to work. For me, though, it is a routine that has quickly become predictable and I am sure that I approach it with my own style and flair – but please don’t get me wrong. Janet and I have come to realize that it doesn’t make any difference who does what as long as it all gets done and this has added an additional dimension to our lives now that we are entering the next phase of our lives as I wind down some of my consulting work.
The point is that sometimes I even forget what day it is. The routine is the same and there is very little deviation day to day in our lives for the time being. It reminds me of Bill Murray and his repetition each morning of the previous day’s routine. But that’s not how we are supposed to be. Even Bill knew that! God didn’t create us to be mindless creatures. We were created in His image – to be in communion with God and to have a personal relationship with Him. That’s the goal that we are to strive for – once having accepted the gift of eternal life that is freely offered to each of us.
But when we fall into routines, or ruts, our faith can become stale as well. We don’t reach beyond our comfort zone and we settle for the same old stuff day after day. Enough already! We should stretch ourselves and keep our faith fresh, just as we wish to keep our days unique and memorable. The verse for tonight highlights the wonder of being in the presence of God and how with Him, we are always doing something exciting and new. That’s at the center of worship – communion with the Most High God, the Creator of everything.
The psalmist tells us, in Psalm 84:10, “Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.” My encouragement this evening is that we serve an exciting God who is worthy of our praise and worship. There is no better place than being with Him. And no two days should be the same – because God’s love for us teaches us something new each day. My prayer is that you will bask in the love of God and make every attempt to keep your prayers and worship fresh from day to day. After all, even though we can learn, as Bill Murray did, about kindness and helpfulness, we can get bored when we do the same thing day after day. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…