Like many of you, I entered God’s Church via birth canal, so I have many memories of the Night to Be Much Observed. For several years, we kept this special evening in a nursing home, helping to serve an elderly member who was confined to a wheelchair.
The Night to Be Much Observed was a definite highlight. Brethren of every description attended at Mrs. James’s nursing home for that annual event: single men in cowboy hats, large families, single mothers with their children; Mrs. James herself was an elderly African-American woman in a wheelchair.
I learned early on that most of the fellowship would be about how members had come out of Egypt spiritually—the meaning behind this night. We were especially eager to hear those stories from the new members—people who were still experiencing their first love for God’s Work and eager to share it with others.
As a teen, you might be wondering how you can match that in your own fellowship opportunities when you don’t really have a story about how you came into God’s true Church. I have two suggestions:
First, rather than talk about how I came into the Church, I talk about how my mom came into the Church. Her story is far more interesting than a gripping description of my emergence from the womb. It also has the benefit of being my origin in God’s Church. You and I—and every other second-generation Christian—are in the Church because of the favor God gives our parents. We are literally holy because of them (1 Corinthians 7:14).
My mom’s story is also intimately tied to the spring holy days. In 1971, after years of chain smoking, her lung collapsed and had to be sewn to the chest wall. That lung was never usable again, and after she left the hospital, she was still off of her feet for quite a while, unable to take care of herself. During that time, one of her neighbors would come over and take care of her, and Mom always spoke fondly about that lady and how kind she was to her. One day, she asked my mom if she wanted her bread—she had to clean it all out. That discussion led to my mom requesting Church literature.
The combination of being afraid she might die, being in the right place at the right time, and the impression that woman made on her led to her future in God’s Church. Her first impression of the Church was a positive one, and it came from the unconverted spouse of a Church member. Of course God draws people to His Church, and He decided my mom would be drawn to the Body of Christ, but nonetheless, that first contact she had is something I heard about frequently—and my go-to story on the Night to Be Much Observed.
Second, I talk about my family’s transition from the wcg to the pcg (feel free to read about that on pcg.church in my article, Malachi’s Message: Your Personal Family History). Your family can tell you about your personal family history.
One story you won’t find in that article is about our last Night to Be Much Observed in the wcg, a night I remember for the wrong reasons. This year, 1990, we weren’t visiting Mrs. James. Instead, we went to a local member’s home with a few other families with teens. For a while, it seemed the night would progress as it usually did, eating lamb and enjoying fellowship with God’s people. It was noticeable, though, that the hosts had really just invited close friends. There wasn’t really a mix of God’s people: no new members to tell us about their first experience with God’s Church, no seniors, just a small group of people who had already talked through everything.
The real surprise came at the end of the meal: Our host informed us the teens were going outside to play soccer while the adults continued to fellowship—after sunset when the holy day had already started. And so they did.
Many of you have probably had experiences where you had to choose between properly keeping God’s Sabbath and some sort of dance, sporting event or other school or social activity. Likely you have never experienced it inside God’s Church. These were the only holy days I ever kept in the wcg after the spiritual lamp had already been removed—as Mr. Flurry explains in Malachi’s Message—and the spiritual effect of Christ removing Himself from that organization was obvious in those last few months.
I decided to be an adult for the night and stayed inside to fellowship while my peers frolicked noisily just outside. Soon, we went home—earlier than this particular event had ever ended before or ever would again. We joined the pcg just a few weeks later, and I never saw any of those particular teens or their parents again. I doubt they remember that evening.
Rather than just another dinner gathering, this night is an amazing opportunity to learn more about God’s people and how they came out of Egypt. Take that opportunity. Treat it as the extra special, high holy day that it is. Be sure that you give it the focus it deserves as you celebrate the freedom God has given you and your family, and someday, you will look back with great joy at the Night to Be Much Observed you kept with God’s Family.