If you have never seen the movie "Groundhog Day" starring Bill Murray, let me recommend it to you. It is, in my opinion, a very theological movie.
Essentially, Bill Murray, a TV reporter, is covering the annual "Groundhog's Day Celebration" in a small town. Somehow he gets "stuck" in time, living the same day (Groundhog Day, Feb. 2) over and over again. Each time he gets another chance to discard his selfishness and develop his creativity until he finally "gets it right" and time resumes.
One may see this movie as a metaphor of the grace and patience God has with us.
Most of us value a second chance. That (aside from parties) is probably why we enjoy celebrating the arrival of a new year. Here's our second chance! For some of us it is the 50th or 60th or 70th or more "chance" to "do it right," to live a year in health, peace, prosperity, happiness, etc., etc.
But it probably won't happen.
This is not said to be a "downer" or in a spirit of pessimism, but in the realization - and acceptance - that we are fallible, finite creatures living in a finite, physical world. The good news is that the second chances are real. Nor is it just a matter or chronology, the fact that each year, each month, each day presents us with a new opportunity to "do it right." Second chances must also involve forgiving and forgetting. Second chances involve turning loose of the past to be free for the future.
In Matthew 18:21 we read:
"Then Peter came up and said to him, 'Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?'
Jesus said to him, 'I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.'"
And in the Lord's Prayer, Jesus tells us we should pray that God will "Forgive us our trespasses (sins) as we forgive those who trespass (sin) against us."
Jesus realized that, outwardly, peace and happiness is only an illusion unless it is matched with an inward reality.
When we experience hurt or remorse, we need to forgive others and ourselves. Then forget it, as God has forgiven and forgotten all the times we have messed up our lives along with much of the rest of His creation. To use the words of an old hymn, "what a wondrous love is this..." that God is always ready to give us a second chance!
We have started a new year, a new century and a new millennium. Let's see if, with God's help, we can make them the best ever!
Ron Covey is the pastor at Douglas Community United Methodist Church.