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by Minister Victoria Burson
Associate Pastor and Executive Assistant to Sr. Pastor

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

Hope for Tomorrow

Wow! It is New Year’s Eve, can you believe it?
As I spend time with family and friends this holiday season, I have to consider how rapidly this year has come to an end. Just last week, I witnessed and spiritually benefitted from four distinct Christmas Eve worship services here at the Cathedral of Hope - - all of them very rewarding. I savored the moment in embracing the Christ Child narrative: the promise of a Savior and a new hope. Nevertheless, I cannot believe this day is now here!

If you are like me, you are deliberating as to whether or not you accomplished every goal you set for this year; this is a perpetual practice of making personal promises that reflect some form of lifestyle change only to break most of them. For instance, we tend to make the usual promises: losing weight, improving our finances, giving more and spending less, and the list continues.

For centuries, New Year’s Eve has played an intricate part in the lives of many, but particularly Christians. Consider John Wesley, the principle founder of the Methodist movement and a revered theologian. He believed that Methodists should renew their covenant with God annually, thus commencing the tradition of conducting ‘Watch Night’ services on New Years’ Eve.

In like manner, New Years’ Eve - Watch Night service Dec. 31, 1862 became one of the hallmarks for what it meant to be Black and of the Christian faith in the United States. This ancient practice was handed down by our ancestors and is one of the last vestiges of Chattel Slavery by African-American Christians. It is recorded that enslaved Black Americans stayed up throughout the night praying and waiting for Abraham Lincoln to sign the Emancipation Proclamation in the hope for a better tomorrow.

Moreover, Jeremiah experienced constant anguish and gloom throughout his life, so much so, his name meant the ‘weeping prophet.’ But Jeremiah understood, clearly, God’s definitive vision in the midst of Jeremiah’s wretched condition: an assurance for the unknown and unseen. Our hope does not occur from individual desires but from God. God promises great Hope and a bright future to all humanity.

Thank you God for a blessed year, and I sit in anticipation and expectancy of a new tomorrow. Amen! Wow! It’ New Years Eve, can you believe it?

But if you remain silent, who can condemn you? If you hide your face, who can see you? Job 34.29

A Word of Hope
Have you finished your costume yet? Halloween is just two days away and the parties have already begun. Do you ever wonder why so many of us go to extremes every year to dress ourselves or our children as super heroes, grotesque movie monsters or even scarier politicians? The “Hallow” in “Halloween” means “holy”, so how does all this fuss relate to a Holy Evening? The first Hallow-e’en costume parties originated in the Middle Ages, but they were far from parties as we know the term.

European villagers were obsessed with possession in those dismal times of plagues and poverty. Since demonic influence and possession seemed to them to be the most logical and probable cause for all their woes, the idea came about that dressing up in frightening-looking outfits and making lots of noise was the best course to frighten the demons away. The practice was encouraged by the church leaders who also told them that All Hallow’s Eve, the evening before the venerated Feast of All Saints, was the night the spirits of evil were at their most active level, doing whatever was necessary to snatch people’s very souls and thoroughly defile the upcoming worship events. So, everyone put on their masks and rattled their chains to literally scare the devil out of each other and send the demons back to the pits where they belonged.

This is not likely the reason you or some of your friends might be wearing a costume today, but it is not surprising that at this time of year much of the LGBTQ community eagerly embraces the opportunity to play dress up on the streets. Few believe in possession, but most have been touched by oppression. Many are still forced to wear a mask in their work or worship places year round. On this night, wearing a mask is their own choice, not somebody else’s. They are freed from playground mentality rules such as “don’t ask, don’t tell” to noisily proclaim their real identities and maybe drive out a few of their own demons of guilt and shame. And if that is the case, maybe it’s a holy evening after all.

Help us to know that we are all hallow in your sight.

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Childcare is provided at all Sunday and Wednesday services.

9 & 11 a.m. – Sunday Worship
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5910 Cedar Springs Road | Dallas, TX  75235 (map)
Local: 214-351-1901 | Toll Free: 800-501-HOPE (4673)

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