Celebrate New Year God-Style!
THIS PARTICULAR DAY IN THE CALENDAR carries so many different meanings, thoughts and emotions for all of us. For some people it is the opportunity to reflect on what has happened so far in their lives, to make adjustments and vow to do things differently this year… our traditional New Year’s resolutions. For others it is just another day like any other. World over it is considered an occasion for great celebration, and yet for many it is an extremely sad time, where the awareness of no family and loneliness seems to be amplified.
When Janine and I moved to the Cape to pioneer The Bay Christian Family Church in January 1994, we had just celebrated a New Year’s Eve in Johannesburg. Festive times are really great in our home, as we have a very large family and many friends, and Janine loves to entertain a full house. But then we had to follow our Lord’s calling. It was very sad leaving our family behind, yet at the same time, we experienced extreme joy knowing that we were obeying our God. The year was very exciting and we witnessed tremendous growth.
We saw the words of Jesus in Mark 10:29-30 coming to reality:
So Jesus answered and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the Gospel’s, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time — houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands…”
Our spiritual family was growing, it was wonderful. As 1994 drew to an end, Janine and I realised that this year we would not have the New Year’s Eve that we were used to. Most of our flesh and blood family were still in Johannesburg.
As I was meditating on this in my prayer times, I sensed the Lord impressing upon me that there were many others who were in a similar situation, and would be spending New Year’s Eve alone. When I shared this with Janine, she immediately said that she would love to have a celebration with these people as our new family.
We decided to have a braai/barbeque and invited anyone who did not have any plans for New Year’s Eve to join us, thinking that it would probably be just a handful of people. We were astounded how many people showed up. It was great!
The evening went well, sharing and fellowshipping, talking and reminiscing about the great year that we had all experienced. Then someone asked me what I believe the Lord will be doing through us in the New Year to come.
I sensed a strong anointing come on me, and found the Lord prophesying through me as to where He was leading us as a congregation, and the Body of Christ as a whole. It was a very humbling moment. Everyone reported afterward how powerfully they had felt the Lord’s presence. When midnight came, with the Lord’s words fresh in our hearts, we rejoiced as I had not experienced before. It was a night I will never forget.
That year we witnessed everything the Lord had said that night, coming to pass. It reminded me of Isaiah 42:9, “Behold, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare; before they spring forth I tell you of them.”
Of course, everyone who was at the celebration was telling every one else about the great evening. By the end of the year, people were asking us if we were going to do the same again. I realised that this was growing bigger than we had ever anticipated. We did meet, this time in our auditorium, and have every year since then. We begin the evening around 9.30pm with families coming together to fellowship and spend time together. Around 10pm we enjoy corporate Praise & Worship which leads into a time where I have shared the Word of God.
At midnight, we proclaim the blessing of God over our congregation, and explode into tremendous praise and jubilation in honour of God. We literally step over into the plan of our Lord for the New Year.
I have found that the Lord is still true to Isaiah 42:9. This may just be another day on our calendar, but it is evident from the Word of God that the Lord works in seasons. We have experienced that every New Year He sets a course for us as the Body of Christ. And every year we have seen it manifest just as we received it from Him.
Year after year our New Year’s Eve celebrations have been growing. In fact it has become our most well attended service of the year. It really amazed me. This was contrary to what I had thought.
The family of God want to be together at this time, even with their flesh and blood family. We have had some of our members bring their unsaved family to this celebration, and they have committed their lives to the Lord that night. What a way to enter into the New Year. A brand new Born-again child of God!
Unfortunately, in the world, there are some terrible things that have happened on a New Year’s Eve. Our youngsters want to have something that is fun and exciting. Yet out there, all that has been on offer are crazy and wild parties. So many families have thanked us for giving them a safe and Holy Spirit-filled environment where they know that their children are together with the family, and the children love it too. It is an anointed and exciting time; a time of great celebration. And when midnight arrives, we as a congregation enter the New Year in the midst of manifested glory together as a family of God.
Pastor, if you have been considering something similar, my advice is, “Go for it!” Do not be concerned as to whether there is a prophecy or not. We know that this is the Lord’s gift that He distributes as He wills (1 Corinthians 12:11), but determine to have a great time worshipping God. Lift Him high and make Him our first thought as we turn the corner into a new and prosperous year in His presence. HAPPY NEW YEAR!