Each year the liturgical calendar gets reset and we begin again with where it began. We know what is going to happen to Jesus at Easter, but each November we begin by retelling the story from the beginning, all over again. We get a new chance like Phil the weatherman did in the movie Groundhog Day. We hope this year we get it right.
Phil (Bill Murray), a weatherman, is out to cover the annual emergence of the groundhog from its hole. He gets caught in a blizzard that he didn’t predict and finds himself trapped in a time warp. He is doomed to relive the same day over and over again until he gets it right. After indulging in hedonism and committing suicide numerous times, he begins to re-examine his life and priorities.
Like Phil, Christianity has been through its periods of hedonism and suicidal tendencies. In its hedonistic period, Christians have tried to force Christianity down the throats of others by the Crusades. Christians have murdered thousands during the Inquisitions, witch hunts, slavery, and by preaching hell and brimstone revivals in the United States.
Today we are in Christianity’s suicidal period. We are killing the hearts and desires of Christians and non-Christians alike with our hate for our fellow man. Right now many people are declaring they no longer want to be called an evangelical Christian because the very term indicates that we are a restrictive, non-loving Christian whose desires should rule our government and churches. A nation that has chosen for president a man who either assaults women or who speaks as an adolescent boy who brags of doing so and who has actually had assault charges filed against him by his wife and others; a man who chooses another such man to be his Chief of Staff.
In this suicidal period of Christianity, we have renewed our desire that women be controlled by husbands, men of the church, and all males. It is women who get the kids up for church each Sunday morning. It is women who will take their children to church and who do most of the Sunday school teaching in that church. It is women who are beginning to realize that their church does not love them as much as they love their church. When you kill off the ones who bring the children, you have committed religious suicide.
Such as our world has always been, it is now. But here we are. Beginning another Advent season where we are looking forward to the birth of a Baby who we will learn has come to turn the world upside down. A Savior, the Christ, who will reveal to us that we are to love one another.
It is Advent – Groundhog Day all over again. We can hope.
It is 2016. What hope are you bringing to the church?