A Groundhog Day Musing during Advent
2 Corinthians 5:1-9
New Revised Standard Version
For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For in this tent we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling— 3 if indeed, when we have taken it off we will not be found naked. 4 For while we are still in this tent, we groan under our burden, because we wish not to be unclothed but to be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5 He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.
6 So we are always confident; even though we know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord— 7 for we walk by faith, not by sight. 8 Yes, we do have confidence, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9 So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.
The grass withers and the flowers fade but the word of our Lord remains forever.
The Rev. Anna Strickland is part of the Sanctified Art creative team that created our Advent theme for 2021 entitled Close to Home. I loved part of her reflection on this theme because it resonates with me personally. She says the following:
“In college, I loved watching HGTV for the ‘after’ photos that made me believe a house could be perfect and playing the Sims to design my dream home. But what I’ve learned from my few years being a homeowner is that the work is never done. There’s always siding to be replaced, fixtures to upgrade, and dream projects for one day. Our home is never finished because home isn’t a destination. It’s where life happens. It’s about the pets buried in the backyard and the pencil marks on the kitchen wall showing how tall the kids have grown. It’s about the meals we’ve shared at the table, whether birthday celebrations or casseroles to comfort our grief. Home is where we live out the whole tapestry of human existence, good and bad, mundane and extraordinary, trivial and overwhelming. This Advent, I’m deeply drawn into the complications and intimacy of a theme centered around home.”
I love her statement that “Our home is never finished because home isn’t a destination.”
There is such truth there. For me I sometimes struggle to simply sit down to relax at home. There is always a project to do. A loose doorknob to be tightened. A load of laundry to be done. Something that needs dusting or polishing or painting. And this time of the year I could spend all day on my front porch sweeping off leaves and acorns!
Of course, the same is true of my work life and my physical health and my spiritual life. There is always more to do. And because of who I am it seems sometimes I am constantly starting over and repeating. For example, I start and restart healthier diets or prayer journaling or drinking more water and less diet coke. Over and over again it goes - I am constantly on a journey and never seem to make it home to my final destination.
The church calendar, including the annual observance of Advent, can feel like that. It is like a day that keeps repeating itself sort of like what occurs in that classic movie Groundhog Day.
In that film, Bill Murray plays a rude and self–centered weatherman who suddenly finds that a single day in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania occurs over and over, and time does not move on. He tries all sorts of things — unsuccessfully — to make it move on, but eventually realizes it’s an opportunity for him to become a different kind of person, a better person, one who can win the heart of his producer, Rita.
Commenting on this movie, an editorial in The Christian Century observed, “... this lighthearted romance suggests one way to think about the mysterious intersection of God’s time and our time. What can seem like the meaningless extension of time, or the ceaseless round of same–old same–old, is in God’s time part of the work of redemption. The prolongation of history can be seen as a gift, a gift that allows us to become aware of God's purposes” (“Fullness of Time,” The Christian Century, December 6, 2000).
Thus Advent, coming year after year, gives us the opportunity to get ready, to change, to become the person God calls us to be. And if we haven’t quite made it there yet, Advent gives us another nudge to keep working at it.
May we all indeed take that opportunity to make our homes on earth (be it our bodies, spirits, families, or communities) a bit more like the home we are all promised and is already waiting for us all in heaven.