February opens with one of my favorite “fun” days of the year, Groundhog Day. After a long, cold January, it is fun to stop and visit with one of the most unlikely forecasters of spring, a groundhog. The most famous one is in Punxsutawney and has a most un-groundhog name, Phil. What does a groundhog know about forecasting on February 2? What does a shadow have to do with it? The answer is, “Not much.” In fact, it is rather ridiculous, and yet a whole lot of fun as we look for a break from the bleakness of winter while anticipating the newness of spring. While Groundhog Day is meant to be lighthearted, it will not stop some individuals very seriously from presenting their carefully thought through prediction about the arrival of spring.
God has given us laughter and a sense of humor. There are times we need to allow this to bubble up. It may be particularly relevant when we are in serious times.
The church can be an ever so serious place. Talk of budgets, parking lots, conversations around purpose and mission, the maintaining of buildings and equipment an endless task. Faith itself seems serious. There is the need for outreach because there are so many people in pain and there is a lot of injustice. The interim period where the congregation finds itself between long term pastors (called settled) can be unsettling for some individuals as most of us really do want familiarity and consistency. Yes, there is a lot about which to be serious, and yet it is important to stop; share a cup of coffee and a conversation, laugh a little.
February will also bring with it Valentine’s Day (a good time to remind someone who is special to us that they are indeed special) and the beginning of Lent. We will party (a little) with our Mardi Gras Sunday (Feb. 11) and then experience the imposition of ashes on February 14 (pretty serious) as we begin our journey into Lent.
This year, part of our Lenten Journey will be shaped by the 2018 United Church of Christ Lenten Devotional called Lovers and Fools. It will play off of Lent beginning with Valentine’s Day and ending with April Fool’s Day. Another of those “fun days” on our calendar and yet this year it is a pretty serious day for us with our celebrating Easter.
So come, join with us as we sometimes laugh and cry, show our love for one another, kneel in the presence of God; where worship can sometimes be solemn and sometimes a little less serious.
Grace and Peace,