I was among the first four people in church on January 1, 2014. It has been ages since I celebrated New Year in the City. Most Adventists attend a church service in the morning of the 1st.
In the village where I have always been on this special day since I turned 14, it is a different experience. Barring a night vigil on the night of end year, we wake up at cock crow, with our goats, chicken, vegetables and grains for the morning service. It is a service filled with bleating of goats and cackling of hens, rustling cash and other offerings brought to church in the chilliness of the morning.
It is a morning oozing with optimism, warmth, thanksgiving and testimonies of the past year. There is a deeper intimacy to this in the village; a familiarity and a shared knowledge hard to come by in the city.
As I sat on a spot I longed for in the last quarter of last year, near the pulpit on a higher seating position, other people trickled in, with family, and friends and we sang common hymns. “Great is thy faithfulness….O Lord my Father….” And other hymns. Sweet voices. Croaking voices.
The service began an hour later. The huge church was building a quarter full. In the village even non members of church join services and it is always a full house on this day. A young boy of about ten years played the keyboard as we sang more songs.
The pastor soon took to the pulpit. He rendered a six pronged sermon titled Facing 2014.
Know what God that God holds you in his hands, “Behold I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands, thy walls are continually before me..”
Know what God has done for you in the Past “David said, moreover, the Lord that delivered me out of the paw of the lion and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this philistine.
Press forward “I press toward the mark for the prize of high calling of God in Jesus Christ…”
Forget what is behind you because we have nothing to fear about the future unless we forget how the Lord has protected us in the past. “In the world ye shall have tribulations but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world…”
Make a resolution to live for God “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land…”
Leave every burden that holds you back from God. “Wherefore seeing we are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us and let us run with patience the race that is set before us…”
We sang and prayed. Lined out and shook hands. Hundreds of hands. I think I have shaken enough hands for 2014.
As we face this year a new beginning awaits us. It matters how we look at it, how you want to make it end. Just make the effort, I have decided to make more efforts.
There was no selling of livestock outside our church building as it would have happened in the village. And less corruption of the rallying cry Happy New Year! with hapi ni eiya- your luck is in my stomach.