Don’t Sleep on 2017
By Daniel Hughes, Shiloh @ Price Hill Campus Pastor
Mama always says; “The way you start a new year is a good sign for the way you’ll finish that year.” She insisted on going to *Watch Night service at church and bringing the New Year in with family and friends. Mama’s statement has been true in my life—the things I did on New Years Eve and the people I spent time with were typically, the things I ended the year doing and the people I spent a lot of time with. As a child, I cherished every opportunity to stay up late to play with my friends and cousins. As a young adult, I stopped going to church service and went straight to a club or house party. As an adult, I felt like peace and quiet was the best way to celebrate New Years Eve, and I’d fall asleep before the ball dropped and the New Year arrived. However this year, I cannot afford to fall asleep on New Years Eve. I must stay wide-awake. My family moved to Cincinnati—the west side, and into the East Price Hill neighborhood. We knew very little about the city or region but soon realized that each community and neighborhood is intentionally and proudly, distinct and different. Now, I appreciate diversity, multiculturalism, and the unique gifts and challenges that different people bring to a community, so the level of division from east side to west side or between social, racial, cultural, and economic classes disturbed me. Personally, I have found ways to engage diversity and thought that individual engagement was enough but I’ve come to realize that personal preferences are insufficient. We must be engaged and organize folks at the social and public level as well. This season is not the happiest time of year for everyone. We’ve seen a divided and contentious electorate, bloody international conflicts, local hate crimes, and unexpected deaths of love ones; yet somehow in the midst of all of the brokenness and darkness a little light is shining on the west side of Cincinnati. A small but diverse group of Christians will gather at 10:00 pm on December 31 at Shiloh United Methodist Church located at 704 Elberon Avenue in Price Hill and we will bring heaven to earth. The room will filled with a diverse group of people from the east side to the west side and we’ll sing gospel songs of freedom, hope, and human dignity, which will resonate in you and inspire you to restore community. We will not sleep on the westside. We will be awake and celebrate our diversity. We will be awake and inspire our community to create safe places where folks can be encouraged to face the challenges awaiting all of us in 2017. We will sing and fight until we all have freedom. Join us for our annual Watch Night New Years Eve service and community meal following. Lets start the year together so that we might finish together.
* Historically Watch Night also known as Freedom’s Eve, was the night in 1863 when slaves gathered and waited for the Emancipation Proclamation to go into effect. Traditionally black churches will host a Watch Night service on New Years Eve.