The “Watch” Word for the New Year

The Watch Word for the New Year

The sales were in full swing. Town was bustling. I left the family to finish their shopping and went for a coffee in Starbucks.

Just me, my coffee and my phone. I love my Samsung Galaxy S4. Contacts, social media, music, diary and email on the go. So much a part of our modern world, but, today my phone battery was flat.

Coffee in hand, I sat to watch the world go by. I know all this. In fact, I have written about it! (“Stress. The Path to Peace”, IVP, 2014). Nevertheless, it was sobering to observe: 80% of the people around me were glued to their phone. Everyone, it seemed: families gathered around the tables, groups of 4 friends, men and women sitting on their own. The virtual world, apparently, so much more real than the, er, real world around them. Human contact had given way to peering into a small screen.

And, who am I to talk? I would have been doing the same thing if my phone had any life left in it!

But, it looked different without the phone before my eyes. I felt restless; not sure what to do with myself.

And, all the while this bible text pinging through my clogged up memory bank:  “Simon…Couldn’t you keep watch for one hour?” These words are originally directed at Simon Peter and the other sleeping disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane. On the night before he died, as Jesus wrestled with the inevitability of a cruel and sin-bearing cross, he went to pray. His soul was overwhelmed to the point of death. “Stay here, and keep watch” he instructed his followers.

Of course we know the story. Three times Jesus returns and finds them sleeping. But Jesus is ready: he has “watched and prayed” and now he is ready to drink the cup of wrath down to the dregs. Simon (we believe), on the other hand, is totally ill-prepared for this battle, instead lashing out with his sword (see Mark 14:32-51).

As the world sees in the New Year with fireworks and fresh resolutions, the Christian Church holds a “watchnight service”

I particularly like John Wesley’s idea of Covenant Services encapsulated in this modern version of the prayer:

“I am no longer my own, but yours. Put me to what you will, rank me with whom you will; put me to doing, put me to suffering; let me be employed for you, or laid aside for you, exalted for you, or brought low for you; let me be full, let me be empty, let me have all things, let me have nothing:

I freely and wholeheartedly yield all things to your pleasure and disposal.

And now, glorious and blessed God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, you are mine and I am yours. So be it. And the covenant now made on earth, let it be ratified in heaven. Amen.”

So, although not being a big fan of New Year’s resolutions, this year I am covenanting to “yield afresh”, to put all things at God’s disposal.  I will take the time to “watch”. Time to clear my cache memory and time to defrag: that is, to yield, to pray, to refocus on Him and value the human relationships which are all around me.

Would you care to join me?

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