When my grandson, William, was a Kindergartener, he proudly proclaimed that he knew everything about Groundhog Day…and then he proceeded to show off his new-found knowledge. Every Groundhog Day since then I can’t help but think of William – and of the movie by the same name. In the movie Bill Murray plays Phil Connors, an egocentric, annoying weatherman who gets stranded by a blizzard after doing a live-broadcast on Groundhog Day. If you know the movie you also know that good old Phil ends up re-living the same day, February 2nd, over and over again. Only Phil is aware of the time loop. First he uses the distressing and bizarre scenario as an opportunity to manipulate people. However, his shameless self-indulgence eventually gets superseded by some serious examination of his life and priorities.
What would you do if you would wake up each morning only to discover that you had to live thru yesterday again – and again – and again – that the progress and the effort from yesterday would be wiped out ---- as well as all the hurtful things you said and did yesterday!? You see, the repeat of the same day over and over again would allow for changed actions, better choices…right? How would you respond if you could do all things over again - if the words that broke a relationship could be newly minced; if the thoughts you contemplated could be amended; if the careless action you took could be replaced by a responsible one? How great would that be?
Guess what? The idea is not as crazy as it sounds. The Gospel of Jesus Christ promises us nothing less than a new beginning each day as we live dripping-wet from the waters of our Baptism. As Christ died and rose, he grants us the unique gift of having our sins in the past and awake each morning to a day filled with unimaginable possibilities and limitless opportunities. Each day is a new beginning. Of course, we cannot wipe out yesterday simply by going to sleep and waking up. This is real life and there are consequences to our actions. The harsh word, the slap, the broken promise, the neglect from yesterday has a consequence today. Amends are needed, change in behavior is crucial.
To be sure: forgiveness does not mean that God does not remember our failures. Newness of life in Christ does not mean we can hope for forgiveness without repentance, live without discipline and dismiss the cross of Christ --- we call that cheap grace. No, we can have a new beginning each and every day only because Christ gave his very life and sets us right with God again and calls us to became followers. This is God’s doing, God’s grace, God’s mercy, God’s plan, God’s work thru the beloved Son, Jesus. In the third chapter of Titus we hear that God saved us…in virtue of his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit, which he poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that we might be justified by his grace and become heirs in hope of eternal life.
I know that these last two weeks have been a bit of a Groundhog Day experience. We wake up and it seems like the world is going nowhere fast. We thought that pandemics are events we read about in history books. The stock market is back to its 2016 numbers. Fear strikes: will we make the same mistakes again, have the same hurts to live through again, repeat the hard work from days gone by in hopes that we somehow will end up where we were a month ago?
Remember that you are baptized and that we are a holy people set apart to do holy things in the name of our holy God. Perhaps this horrible world-wide crisis helps us to turn to God in complete trust and confidence for God is our true safety and security. It seems we need reminders just like the people in biblical times. Each day a new beginning! May yours be richly blessed.