Yesterday, many of us gathered in our places of worship to celebrate the new year. But many do not recall that January 1st is actually Emancipation Day–a celebration of the day in 1863 when the Emancipation Proclamation was enacted. This is not a history post, but I feel the need to share a different historical perspective of traditional new year’s celebrations based on my experience.
And while we’re on the subject of traditions, can we chat about Watch Night Service. Watch Night Service has somewhat morphed into a New Year’s Eve Service. When I was coming up, Watch Night Service was more of a prayer service. It lasted about an hour. No fancy clothes. No shiny things. The congregation just gathered; worshiped; testified; and welcomed the new year on our knees. After service, we would return home to eat our Hoppin’ John and collard greens. Now, don’t get me wrong, I think New Year’s Celebrations are awesome (and I can’t imagine a better place to bring in the New Year but in the house of the Lord), but a Watch Night Service is totally different. On December 31st 1862, soon to be slaves gathered to await their freedom at Midnight. Hence the name “Watch Night.” I personally think, that if you have been in a “Watch Night” service the phrase “Watchman! Oh, Watchman! What is the hour?” was not uttered multiple times, then you have not been to a true Watch Night Service. This traditional service is still practiced in the African-American churches that are nested in the Gullah-Geechee communities of the Low Country.
So, I wrote this looonnnng “quick” post just to say it’s a new year. If there is anything that is keeping you in shackles, I pray that you will take the necessary actions you need to break every chain that is keeping you back. My chain is “fear”. Unfortunately, I am a lifelong pessimist and my “fear” always forces me to choose the safe route in all aspects of my life. My fear is often rooted in how others will react and in failure. My grandmother always told me growing up “Nothing beats a failure but a try!” Though I listened to these wise words as a child, and I am going to take them to heart this year. My word for 2017 is COURAGE. I will do another blog post on my word later.
Sooooo….Back to the purpose of the post. After the Emancipation Proclamation was enacted, it took two and a half years for the last slave to find out that they’d been freed. TWO AND A HALF YEARS. This day was June 19, 1865. We now refer to this day Juneteenth. I pray that in 2017 you choose freedom and not experience a “Juneteenth” in your life, i.e. wait two or more years to finally be free. What shackle will you break in 2017? Please share in the comments below. Be Blessed!