rather than burnt offerings." Hosea 6:6
WHAT CAN WE SHARE ... ?
The purpose of the Watch night Service
It is our tradition to have a watch night service and to share our testimonies. What should we share about? The answer to this question is resolved when we think about the main purpose of having our watch night service. I can think of 3 main reasons:
1) It is a time of thanksgiving. That is what the testimonies that we are going to share is about isn't it? We wish to testify of God's goodness to us, his grace, his protection, his blessings and his mercy. In the watch night services of the past that was the main agenda. To affirm the important biblical teaching of Romans 8:28, that in all things God is working for good to those who love him and are called according to his purpose.
But it should be more than just giving testimonies. For hearing our testimonies, can give the impression that God's presence/involvement in our lives is sporadic, random and ad hoc. Only in times of trouble and crisis does God come to our aid.
It may also give the impression that when Christians suffer trials, struggles, defeat, tragedy that God is absent. Or if our lives in 2005 was hum drum, routine, nothing to shout about that God has essentially adopted a hand's off approach to our lives, letting us run our lives the way we want to.
2) I think that it is therefore important in our watch night service apart from giving testimonies of God's extraordinary goodness to us in 2005, to affirm another important biblical truth. Found in Phil 1:16 That "he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus". It is to establish the fact that our sovereign God who is also our heavenly Father is personally, intimately, continually and actively at work in our lives all the time! As we review 2005, we should be able to look back and identify God's presence, God's footprints as it were and find that God is always doing something in our lives, that His active grace is constantly shaping us to mature salvation (Phil 1:6). Transforming us after Christ's likeness. (2 Cor 3:18)
So we should also share the moments in 2005 when awareness of God broke through the "crust of our routines - a burst of praise, after experiencing much boredom in worship (stagnation, self-absorption,..) a pang of guilt, resulting in glorious liberation and freedom, an episode of doubt”, In short we share the lessons, that God is teaching us in 2005, lessons that we may still be learning. We share what are the challenges that God is giving us, the changes that he is demanding of us.
We may be called in 2005 to dwell in the valley, (i.e. to suffer, to endure trials and sufferings) and to continue to do so in 2005 with no relief in sight. If so we want you to also share, so that you can be strengthened by the prayers and companionship of the members here, so that you do not need to dwell in the valley all alone, by yourselves.
3) Lastly, it ought to be a time of personal and congregational confession of sins, of repentance and covenant renewal. To acknowledge that God has remained faithful, although we have been faithless many times. To affirm the fact that God had never left us or forsaken us. In response to say with Joshua of old in Joshua 24:15 But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.