Start the New Year off right

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By Kirsten Laskey

The New Year offers everyone the opportunity to wipe the slate clean. Whatever negativity existed during the previous year is no longer present; the brand new year offers a fresh new start. The First United Methodist Church of Los Alamos and City-Wide Worship and Prayer are giving the community the chance to begin 2010 on the right footing.

The churches are hosting Watchnight Worship from 11:30-midnight Dec. 31 at the First United Methodist Church of Los Alamos.

During the service, residents will have the opportunity to renew or enter a Covenant with God and the Sacrament of Holy Communion.

“It’s an opportunity for people to rededicate their lives to God for the upcoming year and to celebrate the sacred sacrament of communion with God and each other,” Gail Diedrich of City-Wide Worship and Prayer said.

The Watchnight Worship is a long-standing tradition.

"This particular liturgy," Rev. Dave Ring said, "was developed in 1755 by the Rev. John Wesley, who was an Anglican priest in England. And Wesley became kind of the father of the Methodist movement first in England, and then in the United States and ultimately worldwide.

"But Wesley never left Anglican Church, but his followers formed churches separately from Anglicans. That’s why we have Methodist churches here today. But the purpose of the Watchnight services is to renew one's covenant or relationship with God at or on the beginning the New Year. "

New Year’s Eve is the perfect day to make this show of faith “because it’s moving right into the new year,” Diedrich said. “It’s transitioning from one year to another.”

The service does more than kick off the New Year, it is also kicking off Los Alamos’ participation in the Statewide 24/7 Prayer Initiative for 2010.

Diedrich explained for the entire length 2010, New Mexico will be saying prayers for the state. Each county has signed up to pray 24 hours, seven days a week for one week and Los Alamos is taking the first week of January.

City-Wide Worship and Prayer, along with other local churches will be in prayer from Jan. 1-8.

Diedrich called this yearlong effort “a pretty ambitious undertaking.”

The initiative is interdenominational, Diedrich said. “It’s an invitation to the community. It’s an opportunity for interdenominational worship (and) coming together in the community and (in) unity to ask for penance to enter or re-enter covenant or take communion,” she said.

Coming together as Christians, not Catholics, Lutherans, Evangelicals, etc., is important, Diedrich said. “In heaven, we’re not going to be denominational.”

Sometimes denominations’ different viewpoints can result in friction, she said. It’s “caused problems in the body of Christ. And prayer worship is something that we have in common … and this prayer initiative is certainly something Christians are called to do.”

Ring encourages everyone to get involved in the prayer initiative.

"From my perspective, prayer is always a good thing," he said. "But especially at the beginning of a new decade. And so what we’re doing here as we enter the second decade of the 21 Century is focusing New Mexicans upon God."