Ground Hog Day


Let’s talk about Ground Hog Day. It is observed every year on February 2, “officially” in Punxsutawney, PA. According to folklore, if it is cloudy when a groundhog emerges from its burrow on this day, then spring time will arrive early. The bad news is that a sunny morning may let the groundhog see its shadow and it will dart back into its den, meaning winter weather will persist for six more weeks.

This fun tradition grew more popular with the 1993 move of that same name: Groundhog Day, starring Bill Murray and Andie McDowell. The plot involves the comedy and almost tragedy of a TV weatherman sent to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania to cover the annual event. Mysteriously he’s caught in a “time loop,” repeating February 2 over and over. I have heard “ground hog day” thus used in conversations to mean something like, “Some things never change,” or even more colloquially “Same ol’ same ol.’

Of course, the meaning of the time loop, if the movie plot has a “moral lesson,” is the need to examine our lives and our priorities, as well as relationships and commitments, and make changes as necessary, affirming what needs to remain, and finding courage and faith to try something new. On a local sports blog I heard it this way: “If you only do what you’ve always done, you’ll only get what you’ve always got.”

February, the month of Ground Hog Day, marks one-half year since Ebenezer congregation has moved into a time of interim, the time between a pastor leaving and a new pastor being called. There’s always a temptation to “only do what we’ve always done,” but you know how that sentence ends. Instead, my prayer is that Ebenezer will use the time of interim to examine our lives and priorities (a task of the season of Lent, beginning Ash Wednesday, March 1), and our relationships and commitments. It is critical that our worship attendance grow to full strength, that volunteers for a multitude of service opportunities flourish, that stewardship of spiritual gifts and financial resources thrive, and that we each grow deeper in understanding what it means to be a disciple, that is, a follower of the way of Jesus.

In the movie Ground Hog Day one day sadly looks like a repeat of the day before. While there may be some comfort in that, personal hope and life fulfillment came for the main character when, at last, February 2 ended, and February 3 dawned as a new day. Let us all work, hope, and pray for a new day at Ebenezer. May it be a day of promise and unending possibilities.

Here’s a word of hope from Isiah’s prophecy: “…don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it?” -Isaiah 43:18-19 The MESSAGE

-Pastor Mel