Watch Night services provide a spiritual celebration for New Year’s Eve
On the last day of 1862, enslaved Africans throughout the country awaited a day that would grant them a new perspective on life, greater opportunities and most importantly, freedom.
They gathered in churches, houses and any safe space they could find to pray and celebrate the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation by President Abraham Lincoln. To the millions of blacks in the country it meant a permanent release from their enslavement.
Now, as people prepare for the coming of a new year with traditional celebrations such as parties, fireworks or spending time at home with family, many African Americans continue to celebrate their emancipation in churches everywhere with a Watch Night service.
At these services people from all backgrounds are invited to come out and celebrate their accomplishments of the past year and thank God in advance for their success in the coming year.
Choirs and soloists sing gospel songs, pastors often preach a short sermon, testimonies are given and people reunite with their church family until the new year arrives.
Though Watch Night services have a tie to African American history, they also have a history in the Methodist and Catholic churches, among others, and even link to the Bible.
“If you look at Isaiah 9:2, it talks about how the people were celebrating triumph, and they were being redeemed, and at this particular time, they celebrated how they had been brought out of slavery and into the light,” said Pastor Henry Taylor of Mt. Alban Missionary Baptist Church. “It was also customary for our ancestors to celebrate Watch Night services. Someone did it in their house to usher the old year out and the new year in, and they were asking our ancestors for direction.”
The primary purpose of a Watch Night service, to celebrate the past and bring in the new, has not changed much. Most people that gather at these services are well aware of the meaning.
“The elders, or the people that have been around for a long time, I think they come out for the true meaning of a Watch Night service of knowing what it means to be set free,” he said. “For instance, it’s like voting. Some people don’t understand the importance of voting but once they do they can appreciate it better.”
Though many people have other New Year’s Eve traditions, Watch Night services provide an alternative to drinking or partying.
“I think it’s important to come out to these services because the Lord has brought us all from a mighty long way,” Taylor said. “When you think back over your life about the things that God has brought you through down through the years, I think it’s very important to, at Watch Night service, thank God for what has happened and praise Him for what is about to take place in your life.”
A few of the Watch Night services taking place in Vicksburg are listed below.
Mt. Alban Missionary Baptist Church
Starts at: 7 p.m. Dec. 31
Located at: 2385 Mt. Alban Rd.
Unity Temple Full Gospel Church
Starts at: 10 p.m. Dec. 31
Located at: 2372 Grove St.
Living Word Baptist Church
Starts at: 10 p.m. Dec. 31
Located at: 1401 Farmer St.
Your Daily Devotional – January 18, 2012
Paul defines Discipleship as called by God to preach the Gospel, Declare the POWER of the Cross and Proclaim Christ Jesus as Resurrected Savior, reaching across the economic, religious and social divide of his day. From the day Paul encountered the LORD, he urged his listeners to ‘Forge Ahead’ as Mighty Warriors, guided by Holy Spirit into full understanding of Kingdom LIFE. 1 Corinthians 1:30 (Amplified Bible) “But it is from Him that you have your life in Christ Jesus, Whom God made our Wisdom from God, [revealed to us a knowledge of the divine plan of salvation previously hidden, manifesting itself as] our Righteousness [thus making us upright and putting us in right standing with God], and our Consecration [making us pure and holy], and our Redemption [providing our ransom from eternal penalty for sin]. ” This same message 2000 years later, speaks clearly to the heart of humanity, of God’s Love desiring for mankind to seek HIM in repentance. Revealing the constant struggles which mankind faces, Paul was quick to point out that receiving knowledge of God’s Divine Plan entirely fulfilled in Christ Jesus, was in terms of Eternity, certainly more profitable. Properly fitted with the Spiritual Armor of God, Believers are fitly able to withstand adversity and persecution, such as Paul, Peter and the other disciples had. Every Believer must be completely surrendered to God’s Will, every footstep directed by HIS Spirit, following the same course outlined in HIS Covenant. Having REDEEMED us with a ransom of HIS Life, Christ Jesus calls us into a LIFE of Abundance and Victory, becoming the Holiness and Righteousness of God as Believers are the manifestation of HIS Glory throughout the earth. O’LORD, all Praise and Honor to YOU on high. To YOU I draw near, to hear YOUR Voice. Direct me as I follow YOU each day, overcoming the enemy with YOUR Spirit of POWER. I must Declare that YOUR Kingdom is here, brought to earth by YOUR Son of endless LOVE, extending YOUR Grace and Mercy from heaven above. YOU alone must I serve with all that I am, Faithful and Obedient to YOUR Will all of my days. Send forth YOUR Warriors of TRUTH, for YOUR Holy WORD gives LIFE Everlasting.. Amen]]]]> ]]>
Your Daily Devotional – January 16, 2012
It is in the Book of Hebrews, that we read of the lives of so many who lived by Faith, relying upon God for everything. This gives us but a glimpse into the practicality of living each of my days guided by God’s Spirit. Growing to that place in our Faith, not from our own efforts or strength, by that of being strengthened daily by HIS Spirit, and then excersizing our Faith by acknowledging that God is Eternally Faithful to accomplish both HIS Purpose and Will as outlined by HIS Promise. The boundless Grace and Mercies of God, offer us assurance that whatever HE says, HE WILL DO. As we learn more of walking completely by Faith in Christ, there is nothing that is impossible for God to accomplish through us, only if we submit to HIM and allow the fruit of HIS Spirit to manifest in our life. Those 1st century Believers, lived each day as witnesses of the mission and purpose for which they were called of God to accomplish. It was their confession, and ours as well today, which bears testimony to God’s Faithfullness, supplying provision where there has been lack, direction for the dispensation of abundance and a true heart rending passion to see others brought into the Kingdom. Remaining Faithful in Declaring the Gospel of Christ brings Glory and Honor to God, and by seizing and taking firm hold of every Promise of God, HE is able to manifest HIS Power, accomplishing in and through us those things which HE has determined to do. Believing every WORD HE says, our life is then to be a more of a reflection of HIS Faithfullness, where our desire becomes completely aligned with HIS Will. O’Lord, the depth of YOUR Love is unmeasureable, and YOUR Glory which surrounds me is immense. My Faith in YOU is far more than Provision and Prosperity, it is YOUR Power which strengthens and delivers me each day. To be YOUR witness of TRUTH and Life, because YOUR Grace and Mercy abounds giving me HOPE to continue pressing onward. YOU are my Provider and my Strength, a Refuge for my soul. Amen ]]]]> ]]>
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