On February 2, Punxsutawney Phil comes out of his burrow on Gobbler's Knob--in front of thousands of followers from all over the world--to predict the weather for the rest of winter. According to legend, if Phil sees his shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter weather. If he does not see his shadow, there will be an early spring.
This notable event reminds me of Peter's ministry in ancient Jerusalem. The writer notes, “people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by” [Acts 2:15]. The word for “shadow” here is also used by the writer in Luke 1:35 when the Holy Spirit "overshadowed" Mary so that she could miraculously conceive the Messiah and Luke 9:34 when a "cloud overshadowed" the disciples at Jesus transfiguration. So, the "shadow" of Peter was nothing less that the power and presence of God working through Peter to heal the sick and set people free.
As I think about the ministry of compassion, I am reminded from this text: The church is the shadow of God’s presence and power in the world. As we are changed by God's Spirit, He sends us into our neighborhoods and unto the nations so that we might overshadow others with the glorious life-changing majesty of our great God. Then others might enjoy the newness of Spring. Then God might be worshipped by more and more.
Happy Groundhog Day.