Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Watch Night

Minnehaha Park, Minneapolis
 This morning I was reading a devotional from the book Lighten the Darkness: An Advent Journey through Hope.  In it, the author, Dena Douglas Hobbs, was discussing her memories and experiences with Watch Night worship services.  Imagine for a moment a worship service on New Year's Eve filled with prayer, confession and celebration of the changing of the year.  I think it would be a great way to enter the new year, releasing the burdens of the previous year - the sins, regrets and worries of one year - so as to enter the next year free and ready for the coming of Christ.
A friend on Facebook posted a graphic that says, "I can't believe it's been a year since I didn't become a better person."  The graphic was meant as a joke, but I think it is a joke with some teeth.  We feel that way - we are weighed down with the guilt of regrets and sins, and it doesn't leave much room for hope.

Watch night is the time when we watch for Christ to enter our lives.  Hobbs talked about a tradition in an AME church.  As the people are praying and the year is changing, the pastor yells, "Watch!  Waaaatch!"  I think to experience that might be overly frightening for me, but there is truth in it.  Watch.  Jesus is coming into your life, into your new year, if you will allow it.  Watch, the next year is full of hope and grace, if you will make room for it.  Watch!

Watch!  Christ is coming.  Christ is here, and come every day.

Watch!  And have a grace-filled, hopeful, new year.

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