Have you ever heard of a “Watchnight Service” where people read through the entire Bible on New Year’s Eve / New Year’s Day? Yeah? Well, we didn’t do that. (Now, I know there are other kinds of “Watchnight” services. But, that’s the kind I always heard about growing up.)
But, we did get together with the church on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day to read and discuss Scripture, among other things. (Actually, over the weekend we gathered together with the church several times besides the two instances that I described here. But, in this post, I’m going to focus on these two times of gathering.)
As I mentioned in my post “Reading Scripture Together with the Church on New Year’s Eve,” we gathered together on Saturday, New Year’s Eve, with some brothers and sisters to read through the books of Jonah and Mark.
We began gathering together just before 7:00 (7-ish) at the home of some of our friends, and, of course, we immediately began grazing on ham and cheese rolls, meatballs, raw vegetables, several flavors of popcorn, different cheeses, cookies, and other assorted “finger foods.” About half of the people present were brothers and sisters that we gather with weekly. However, there were a few friends and friends of friends who joined us well. A couple that we had never met even drove in from the Outer Banks (NC) to spend the weekend with us (you know who you are!), and we had a great time getting to know them!
Eventually, we started reading together. We read through the book of Jonah (4 chapters) and the first 4 chapters of Mark. Then we took a short 10-15 minutes break for food, stretching, etc. After the first break, we read Mark 5 through Mark 10 and took another short break. Finally, we read Mark 11 through Mark 16. Twenty-one different people read (two people split a chapter), including several children. We also read from different English translations.
We tried to refrain from discussing the Scriptures as we read them, but we found it terribly difficult! We ended up talking a little… but not much.
Then, on Sunday, New Year’s Day, we gathered for our normal weekly meeting. Of course, many of the people who gathered with us Sunday had been present when we read Jonah and Mark together. Others had not been with us when we read together New Year’s Eve.
But, we had decided to discuss the two books on Sunday. So, after singing a few songs – accompanied on guitar by a friend who spend the day with us before returning home to Virginia – we began talking about Jonah followed by a discussion of Mark.
I won’t go into what we discussed. It was extremely encouraging and challenging. I may write something about this later.
As a new friend said to me in an email:
Was Jesus there? Obviously! How do we know? Because the truth was there being spoken, taught, and discussed; because family was there sharing struggles and thanksgivings, and sorrow, bearng one anothers burdens; because the body was there speaking truth in love to build one another up.
This was a great way to spend New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.