Thursday, February 2, 2017

What are you waiting for?

Today is Groundhog Day and many awake from sleep scurrying to hear whether or not Punxsutawney Phil has seen his shadow. According to legend, if he exits his burrow and sees his shadow we can expect six more weeks of winter. While not scientific, thousands gather around his burrow and wait....and wait...surrounded by newscasters and smart phone camera. The anticipation can I’m sure be riveting. It made me think....what are we waiting for?

Today is also, and arguably more importantly, the Feast of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple. The Temple Priest Symeon was told by God that he would not die before he set his eyes on “the Lord’s Christ.” The Gospel tells us that St Symeon as a righteous and devout man who was waiting for the Messiah. Here is the entire passage...
Gospel Reading: Luke 2:22-40 (RSV) - At that time, the parents brought the child Jesus up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, "Every male that opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord") and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the law of the Lord, "a pair of turtle doves, or two young pigeons."  Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Symeon, and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.  And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ.  And inspired by the Spirit he came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the law, he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said, "Lord, now let your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel." And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him; and Symeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, "Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is spoken against (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that thoughts of many hearts may be revealed."  And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher; she was of a great age, having lived with her husband seven years from her virginity, and as a widow till she was eighty-four.  She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day.  And coming up at that very hour she gave thanks to God, and spoke of him to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.  And when they had performed everything according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city, Nazareth.  And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.
There is a great difference between waiting for a silly groundhog and Christ. On the one hand the results of Punxsutawwney’s shadow, or lack thereof, brings anxiety to millions who live in cold climates. On the other hand, setting our eyes upon Christ brings comfort to those who await His presence. Of course we are still waiting, but not our wait is comforted by the words of God. “Fear not for I am with you.” (Genesis 26.24) We wait for the return of Christ to bring us home to paradise.

I suppose somewhere there is a connection between Groundhog Day and the Feast of the Presentation. We’re both waiting for some good news. The difference is.....Groundhog Day is a marketing scam to draw millions of tourism dollars to a small town in Pennsylvania. The Feast of the Presentation of Christ is not a marketing scam. It is a real joyful reminder that God has come to rescue His children. The wait is over....He has come.

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