This past Tuesday was Groundhog Day, and, in case you missed it, Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow and so predicted six more weeks of winter — at least he reportedly is only 39 percent right.
If Wikipedia is right, the weather folklore that is Groundhog Day reportedly goes back to folklore that a prolonged winter is indicated by clear weather on the Christian festival of Candlemass.
The festival of “Candlemass” — so called at least partly for the custom of on that day taking candles for use at home to the church to be blessed — is perhaps better known as “The Purification of Mary and the Presentation of Our Lord,” which festival in part recalls the events of Luke 2:22-38, when a man named Simeon by the power of the Holy Spirit recognized the 40-day-old Jesus as the Lord’s Christ, which recognition led a woman named Anna to give thanks to God the Father and to speak of the Child to all who were waiting for redemption.
In his daily devotion emailed on Tuesday, my colleague the Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray of Memorial Lutheran Church in Houston emphasized the “unseeing seeing and unknowable knowing” of Saints Simeon and Anna, who lacked “cheesy golden halos to identify the divine personages” in the Divinely-inspired St. Luke’s account.
Indeed, Simeon could only call the humble Child the Lord’s salvation light for the Gentiles (thus the candles) and glory for the people of Israel — and Anna could only know Jesus as the Lord’s redemption — because God so revealed Jesus to them, as God the Father reveals Jesus to us by the power of His Holy Spirit.
When we who are spiritually dead in our trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1, 5) look at that Child Jesus in Simeon’s arms, or the Man Jesus on the cross or the Body of Jesus in bread and the Blood of Jesus in wine, we by God’s grace through faith also have “unseeing seeing and unknowable knowing.”
So, we seek out Jesus there in the Mass, or Divine Service, both on festival days such as this past Tuesday and on every Sunday, for the forgiveness of sins, and for the life and salvation that come with that forgiveness.
And we give thanks to God the Father for revealing His Son to us by His Holy Spirit, and we speak about that Son to all, for all are in need of redemption.
The Rev. Dr. Jayson S. Galler is Pastor of Pilgrim Lutheran Church in Kilgore. You can reach him through the congregation’s website: www.pilgrimlc.org.