An explanation on Watch Night Service
Every church set us by God is given a guideline of instruction which will make her function as God wants it, Celestial Church of Christ is no exception of a truth we were taught with the saying ‘Oluwa wi la n tele. Emi loun dari (It is the Lord says we follow, it is the spirit that directs). In this vein, Watchnight service was given to C.C.C through a 7year old boy called Mawuyon who was raised from the dead by Christ through Papa Samuel Bilewu Joseph Oshoffa (SBJO) gave the injunction of watchnight service(aisun ipari osu as normally been called) while in spirit (CCC constitution Sec 88). The service was given to open the mind of Celestial to the mysteries of God embedded in spiritual worship and communion with God.
Before C.C.C was sent as the ‘last boat of salvation’, the Jews were given ‘new moon worship’ during the time of Moses (2 Chronicles 2:4) as time they must gather before Him to worship which will usher them into a new month according to the standard of God, the same way watchnight service was given to Celestial Church. Invariably, in the spiritual setting of God the month ends on the first Thursday of every month and by past midnight on Friday, a new month starts; what a great mystery God has given to us (1 corinthians 1:21). We don’t refer to the service as ‘new moon’ nor ‘new month’ because God never called it so for us and the order of service given to the Jews is not the as given to CCC, as a true son we are to stand in the calling which we are called as admonished by apostle Paul (1 Corinthians 7:20).
Let’s go into the nitty-gritty of this service, we might be wondering why the service is so important but we should know that Christ Himself told Papa SBJO when He visited them at Makoko in 1954 that all our worship is acceptable unto God in heaven (CCC constitution sec 58) so we should never take our services with levity. Moving on about watchnight service, there are some important items we need to bring while coming for this service and they are 1 stick of candle,1 bottle of water, our power cover cloths (aso agbara) and of course our bibles and hymn books. Why do we need all these items?
The Stick of Candle
The stick of candle is to be used by us, we pray on it, he speak against all the unwanted events of the ending month, we put our request for the new month before God, and most importantly we ask for the light of God to walk in the new month without stumbling or falling in the journey. May I add that in the early days of CCC our praises and dancing was done outside with our candles lit while we held them but during the time of civil war, the Nigerian army used ‘jet bombers’ which was sensitive to gathering of light so as not to be mistakenly bombarded with bombs, we were told to move the praises and dancing into the church.
Bottle of Water
This is a key item we really need; it is split into 2 i.e. the glass bottle and the water. Our God is a God of order and not disorder, He specifically told us to use glass bottles not because that was the only thing available at that time but to teach us carefulness (taking heed) of how we handle things He gives to us. We all know how careful we are when holding glass bottles and how carefree we are when holding plastic bottles and the like. The water is for drinking and mixing with our bathing water throughout the new month and by doing this we are renewed physically and spiritually (Isaiah 40:31).
Power cover cloth (Aso agbara)
This is very important for all Celestial; it is sewn with plain white material, with 7 blue crosses on it, sanctified and used for covering ourselves at home, in church or anywhere we go. We are to place it beside us as we are dancing and during the course of the service and as the angels are playing and rejoicing with us, they sanctify, bless and make it powerful to be used in throughout the new month, just like our Hymn 227 says “… ogun orun e sọkalẹ sire (host of heavens come down and play)
There are a few things we must put into practice while observing this spiritual service
Elders (both male and female) are meant to clad in their full regalia, if not in their surplice(agbada) they must be in their cassock (reason been that they have come to present themselves before the Lord in His fullness so they must be properly dressed) and they sit in horizontal straight lines according to their ranks (not in the altar).
The choristers are meant to clad in their cape because it is a full service(a high mass as old members call it) where the big altar is used so when they are visited by God, they won’t be found unprepared. Celestial songs are meant to be rendered throughout this service(either from the hymn book or Celestial composed songs) so the full impact of the spirit that works with the church can be felt both by the choir and the congregation as a whole. All praises and dancing must stop by 11:45 pm all song must stop to allow the church to pray for at least 5mins when this is not followed, it is no more praising the Lord but disobedience to the instruction of God (1Samuel 15:22).
This service should never be turned into a revival or prayer galore, it is for praising, dancing and worshipping the Lord in happiness, joy and gladness of the heart having total faith that the next month will bring forth good fruit more than the ending month so no special ‘tag’ or ‘name’ is needed for this service .
Our sitting arrangement is also key in this service, we are all to sit in straight horizontal lines to give easy access to the adenas (sidemen) when moving with the incense burner and sprinkling water in the church.
Women in their monthly cycles are to stay home and talk to God He would answer them faster than some people in the church because they obeyed (1 Samuel 15 : 22 – 23).
The 7 candles lit around our bottles of water, the mercyland altar and round the church is to be lit from the half-burnt candle used to lite the 7 candles on the main altar, not from the matches from the pocket of the adena (sidemen) so no one will fall into the error children of Aaron fell into (Leviticus 10:1).
Our father Papa SBJO taught us how we bow our heads such that when we bow, our forehead and tip of our nose should touch the ground, our palms over our head forming triangle (symbol of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit as the choir cape implies), the top of our feet also touching the floor and of course we know our sutana should always cover our feet whenever we kneel in Celestial Church.
During Ọlọ́run loba iye (hymn 57 stanza 1) our palms are to be facing the altar(not sideways), our hands a bit above our heads and they are to be up until we start Mimo mimo oba awon angeli (stanza 2) which we bend and our palm on our kneel, when we get to… ‘awon angeli’ we stand upright and repeat this process 3times.
During E wole fun (hymn 57 stanza 3), we follow the service conductor by saying ‘E wo le fun and not mo wo le fun because its never a call and response but we are calling all creatures to bow down and pay homage.
During Hirah jamah, we kneel up, our palms opened on our thigh after which we run our open hands over our heads and faces.
During Yagol lah (not yago lola), At Yagol lah Mariyangariyeh (the call) we kneel face down, then bow at the response (Yagol lah Mariyah); this is very key in our Watchnight service because this was the exact way Jesus Christ worshipped at the garden of Gethsemane and after the worship, He was ministered to by the angels (CCC constitution sec 88), What a mystery! so this implies that if we do this according to how we are given by God, we will never go home empty but will be ministered to by the host of heaven
N. B : All the above is to make us key into the truth given to us by Christ and taught by our father Samuel Bilewu Joseph Oshoffa and as we do it, deeper things about the worship will be revealed to us, I will advice we practice with open heart so we can be taught more by God Himself (John 16:13).
God of Samuel Bilewu Joseph Oshoffa will make all our worship and services acceptable, establishing us in truth and wealth of the riches of His glory in Jesus Christ name.