The month of February brings more cold weather and winter seems like it will never end, but each day also brings a few more minutes of light as the darkness grows shorter. We count the days on the calendar waiting for the arrival of spring, even hoping that the shadow spotting capabilities of a furred rodent in Punxsutawney will somehow make this cold season a little less bitter. Even if we are winter people who like the snow and the skiing and the ice skating instead of the warm fires inside, our hearts still yearn for the light of the new Spring to come.
A few years ago, there was a movie entitled “Groundhog Day” starring Bill Murry. It was about a TV weather-forecaster whose cynical nature was insensitive and self-serving. This character was to live over again and again the same day, Groundhog Day, until by some means he could find a solution. At first, it was fun, not to be responsible for one’s actions today and the results that they would bring tomorrow, but soon the fun wore thin and he began to pray that tomorrow would eventual arrive. He attempted to change his behavior so that he could prove himself good enough to be released from his curse, but no matter what good deeds he did, they were not enough.
Recently in explaining the movie, someone told me that the main character had to do everything right to win his freedom from the never-ending day, but if you watch the movie, it is not just about him changing his behavior, but the real lesson is about the changing of his heart. It starts when no matter what he does, he is unable to save a homeless man from death. This causes him to look beyond himself to the needs of others and leads eventually to the change of heart that releases him from his prison of Groundhog Day.
A change of heart is God’s goal for all people. In Jeremiah 24:7 it says, “ I will give them a heart to know that I am the LORD; and they shall be my people and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart.” And in Ezekiel 11:19, “I will give them one heart, and put a new spirit within them; I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh.” February 2nd is also the day we celebrate “The Presentation of our Lord.” This is when Jesus is presented at the Temple fulfilling all the Old Testament rules and laws for a new child, but two prophets, Simeon and Anna, recognize that God’s promise from the Old Testament will be fulfilled in this small child. It is no longer about our behavior and doing what is right, but about having God change our hearts.
On Groundhog Day whether that furred beast sees his shadow or not, the world will not change. Winter will be over on the first day of Spring about six weeks later. The question for us this day is since Jesus has come, have our hearts changed? Are we different because our Lord is part of our lives? Do we have hearts that seek the light of God or are we still afraid of the shadow of our sins fleeing back to hearts of stone without God? Are you living God’s tomorrow or stuck in sin’s groundhog day?