For many, a new year marks new beginnings: a new diet, a new fitness regiment, a five year plan, a new hobby, etc. This time of new beginnings is especially tangible for Ashley and me. We moved to a new state. Ashley teaches at a new school. I started a new degree program at a new seminary along with a new job on campus. We attend a new church and are involved with a new church plant. In all this newness, we meet new people and make new friends who by no means replace old ones. Newness is exciting; yet it scares us because we seem out of place. We're the new, the unfamiliar, the odd. What we experienced New Year's eve symbolizes the tension between the excitement and the apprehension we feel in this season of new beginnings.
We participate in a new church plant (Redeemer Anglican Church) southeast of downtown Raleigh. The neighborhood is largely African-American and Redeemer is mostly caucasian. Many from Redeemer have lived in the area for years and more are moving. Our pastor and his wife, Ford and Lindsey, developed over the years a friend ship with a local pastor and his wife So for New Year's eve, the local pastor of Mt. Sinai Holiness Church (a predominately African-American church) and his wife invited Redeemer to participate and worship with them at their watch night service.
Ashley and I were nervous; we knew the service would be new and unfamiliar. Yet we were excited for the possibility of making news friends at Mt. Sinai. The service was loosely structured consisting of extemporaneous prayer, songs, and testimonies. Needless to say, it was not familiar to us. But, we found the experience truly edifying. It was sweet to worship and watch for the dawn of the coming New Year with our brothers and sisters in Christ, both black and white, especially at a time when "race" dominates the headlines and we can see the fragmentation of humanity before our eyes. So for a moment, we caught a glimpse, a foretaste of the new beginning (new creation) as we brought in the New Year in harmony and peace with praise and glory to the God Almighty.