Groundhogs and Candlemas

Today is Groundhog Day in the United States and Canada. Wikipedia notes that “according to folklore, if it is cloudy when a groundhog emerges from its burrow on this day, it will leave the burrow, signifying that winter will soon end. If it is sunny, the groundhog will supposedly see its shadow and retreat back into its burrow, and winter will continue for six more weeks.” Well – voila…Nova Scotia’s Shubenacadie Sam came out first today, did not see his shadow and therefore predicted an early spring. Wiarton Willie here in Ontario stepped out into the snowy day at 8:07 am EST and also declared an early spring. All of this while the better parts of south-western Ontario has hunkered down in hiding over 20 cms of snow! This must be welcomed news given the near paralysis of our region due to what we would have called a decent snowfall back east in Newfoundland.

February 2 is very well known as Groundhog Day in North America. Feb 2 also happens to be the Feast of The Presentation of the Lord in the Temple: perhaps not so popular in cultural parlance but a great feast day nonetheless. It is also known as Candlemas. Mary and Joseph took Jesus to the Temple as was Jewish custom for the right of purification. They brought the child to the Temple. Simeon a devout man who was waiting for God to deliver His people. Simeon had been visited by the Spirit of God and told that he would not die until he had seen the Lord. Simeon was lead into the Temple by the Spirit. When Simeon held Jesus he quoted Exodus, exclaiming:

“Lord, I am your servant, and now I can die in peace, because you have kept your promise to me. With my own eyes I have seen what you have done to save your people, and foreign nations will also see this. Your mighty power is a light for all nations, and it will bring honour

to your people Israel.”

Simeon went on to tell Mary that there would be pain for her in watching this child’s life unfold. There was also a devout woman named Anna who praised God in the Temple day and night and she too was overwhelmed by the child and expressed her praise to all who waited for the Lord.

On the Feast day…if we have dug out from the snow…perhaps we might reflect on how we respond to the love of God as it has been presented to us. When we see the face of God placed before us, what is our response? Do we exclaim our praise knowing that God has been present to us in our lives? Perhaps today we can move beyond discussing the weather to discuss our faith the God who delivers us from all things and journeys with us through all things. Anna left the temple praising God. Simeon left the Temple praising God. Shall we leave our snowbound homes and our own Temples and praise God for whom we have waited.


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