Watch Night, 2019 — Waiting for Justice

Watch Night, 2019 — Waiting for Justice December 30, 2018
In the African American community, Watch Night services on New Year’s Eve commemorate the evening of Dec. 31, 1862, as black people, both enslaved and free, looked to Jan. 1, 1863, and the implementation of the Emancipation Proclamation.
The idea of a New Year’s Eve service actually is much older than Freedom’s Eve of Watch Night, and in fact finds its roots in the Moravian Church and a 1733 New Year’s Eve service held in Germany.
Always one to adopt a good idea, John Wesley incorporated the service into his denomination. Some Methodists continue to hold monthly evening services, known as “Covenant Renewal Services.”
The service obviously took on deeper significance in 1862, when it was more important than any before or since, and the effects will be felt in the black community tonight.
Just as black residents of the United States waited for justice in 1862, in 2019 they wait for justice because they live in a country where white men can roam the streets with rifles or point weapons at law enforcement, but a black child gets shot for playing with a toy gun.

Now we watch and wait. Wait for the new year and wait for justice denied.

Some Americans have waited a very long time for justice, justice that still hasn’t come.
We watch for justice in a nation that seems more racist and destructive than ever before. While black people are no longer dragged out of their homes and lynched in the dark of night, unarmed, they are gunned down in their own yards, or murdered on city streets. Or on playgrounds.

And so we wait, and watch for justice. We wait for those in the dominant culture to recognize their privilege and their responsibility.
We watch for the new year, and pray for the unarmed, innocent victims of last year, of this year, and of the year to come.

Jim Meisner Jr. earned an M.Div. from the Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology at Virginia Union University, one of the oldest HBCU colleges in the United States. You can read more about the author here.

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