Watching and Waiting along with a Little Hogmanay
17 The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.”
And let everyone who hears say, “Come.”
And let everyone who is thirsty come.
Let anyone who wishes take the water of life as a gift.
The bride, the Church is the gathering of those who have fallen in love with Jesus Christ and are filled with the Holy Spirit. These Spirit-filled believers are ever moved to pray for those who would “Come.” Yes, it is a prayer for the second coming of Jesus Christ, for we await in great anticipation his coming, but his coming is already revealed when he enters the lives of individuals and they experience his transforming power even now!
The Spirit, along with the individual hearers of the prophecy unite together in the invitation to “Come.” Just as the woman at the well was invited to drink of the water that would eternally satisfy her thirst, so all are invited to join the bride. This is the final call of the word of God, an open invitation to have your needs met by the Creator. The free gift of the water of life is already prepared.
This invitation is not only found at the end of this book, but it is found throughout the word of God. The Spirit has continually inspired the written word so that it remains, for all eternity, an invitation to come. The bride is challenged to become actively engaged in the calling process. We watch and we wait for the coming Messiah, but also for those who will respond to the invitation. We are invited to participate by being ministers of the gospel and daily putting the ordinances of God before the people. The church is to be living, active and breathing on a daily basis so that the watching and waiting world will already see the light of Christ’s coming within the actions of the bride. This calls for consistency among the members — those who are called by the family name, “Christian.” Hypocrisy has no place in the life of the bride that is watching and waiting with great anticipation the arrival of her loved one. And so as she awaits, she does good and reaches out to bring others into the life of the Church. No one would want their loved ones to miss out on what is going to happen and so we invite our family members, friends and neighbors to “Come” and experience the living water.
The anticipation of the event is so great that heaven and earth unite together in the invitation. We are watching and waiting together and not wanting anyone else to miss the celebration, we cry out, “Come!”
Tonight it is expected that 75,000 people will gather in the city of Edinburgh, Scotland to celebrate Hogmanay. This is the Scottish word for the last day of the year and is now synonymous with the Scottish celebration of the New Year. The city of Edinburgh has spent £30 million on the event. A number of people dress up like Vikings and, carrying torches they will lead people through the streets of the city. All of this, in anticipation of a New Year — 2015! And yet, tomorrow morning people will wake up and it will be another day and their lives will not have been transformed by the events that will transpire tonight.
Or will they?
There used to be Watch Night Services in my tradition — this was a service that was held leading up to the midnight hour as believers prayed in the New Year. I’ve heard the stories of individuals who attended these services and gave their lives to Christ. There were times when these services made individuals evaluate the priorities of their lives as they moved into the New Year. The event was a time to think about Watching and Waiting on the Messiah.
A quick Google search of Watch Night and Nazarene will reveal that the only thing we watch at night is the on-line version of last Sunday night’s service! And yet there was an interesting result that appeared — a Lodi, California Newspaper article from 1957. The headline read, “Nazarene Church Plans Watch-Night Service Tonight.”
The Lodi Church of the Nazarene will be among the 4500 congregations of the international Protestant Church that will pray at special Watch-night services around the world today, opening the denomination’s golden anniversary year. The service in the local church will start at 9:30pm and conclude with prayer around the altar at 12:05 a.m. Special features of the service will be a “Love Feast,” a Communion service, and a Candlelight Testimony service…The denomination stands for the spread - and conservation of the Wesleyan doctrine and experience of entire sanctification, or heart holiness. Among U.S. Protestant denominations, it is 30th in membership, 15th in Sunday school enrollment, and 9th in its publishing house sales.
A city will spend £30 million tonight with 7,000 people dressed up like Vikings to celebrate Hogmanay. I know that many friends will gather with others in their homes to play games, eat, watch a ball drop, and shoot off a few fire works. I don’t know very many that will be gathering around an altar to celebrate a “Love Feast” and spread the invitation to “Come.”
The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.”
God help us to be so filled with his Spirit and passion that our desire to bring others to Christ would be more passionate than a celebration of Hogmanay. Let’s watch and wait together, inviting others to join us in passionate anticipation of our Savior’s return. Knowing Christ is more transformational than waking up on New Year’s day with a hangover!
Lord, please fill me with the passion of your Spirit. Amen.