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Wesleys Take the Web: Watch Night

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In this installment of our modern animated series which features the brothers who founded Methodism, John and Charles Wesley write down bad habits and re-commit to God through the tradition of Watch Night.

We hope you will watch and share these clips, whether with your confirmation class, new member class, Sunday school group or in other settings. Some suggested discussion questions are below.

Learn more about the history of The United Methodist Church.


(John sits at desk, writing in journal)

(John Wesley reads aloud from journal) I am no longer my own, but thine.

Charles Wesley: Hey brother, why so quiet?! That's so last century--or 3--nowadays we party for New Year's Eve.

JW: And that is precisely why I am being quiet. This is the perfect time to write down our bad habits and re-commit to God. It is a Watch Night.

CW: Assuming this has nothing to do with our wrists…

JW: No, it has everything to do with what our Moravian brethren showed us long ago. Instead of welcoming another year with wild revelry, we Christians can choose to renew our covenant with our Lord and try to do better.

CW: Ok, I'm in. What's the plan?

JW: I am just writing some notes about bad choices I want to leave behind me, and then I'm heading over to church to join others to sing and pray as the year winds down. Join me?

CW: Hmmm, how long will they be there…might take me a bit to do my list…

JW: Sometimes they burn the notes at the end…

CW: I will hurry. Hate to miss a good fire….



These videos were produced as a 21st century follow up to the popular clip known as "Clayride: A Gallop Through United Methodist History." Find out more about the making of "Clayride" from the artists who created that 1984 classic.

This video was produced by United Methodist Communications in Nashville, TN.
Media contact is Joe Iovino.
This video was first posted on December 13, 2018.


Suggested discussion questions:

Charles is ready to party for New Year's Eve. What do you, your family or your congregation do to ring in the New Year? Do you stay up until midnight? Do you make resolutions?

When the video opens, John is writing in his journal, "I am no longer my own, but thine." This is a quote from "A Covenant Prayer in the Wesleyan Tradition" (United Methodist Hymnal, 607). What's a covenant?

Throughout the video, John is describing Watch Night services that some churches have on New Year's Eve, or on a Sunday around that time. It's a time to recommit one's life to Jesus. Why is it important to recommit our lives to Jesus? What are some of the other ways we do that?

John says Watch Night is a time when "Christians can choose to renew our covenant with our Lord and try to do better." What does he mean by try to do better?

Charles is excited to learn that sometimes congregations choose to burn the papers on which they have listed those behaviors they wish to leave behind. Why burn them?

John has some ridiculous things on his list (we get a glimpse of it at the 39 second mark). He had some rules for himself that we might think of as strict. What would be on your list of behaviors to leave behind?

John reminds Charles that the Watch Night service is one of several things they learned from their Moravian friends, another Christian denomination. (PS - The star behind John is a Moravian star!) What's something a friend told you his/her church did and thought, "I wish our church did something like that?" What are some things we can learn from other churches?

Charles' shirt reads "Vive Hodie," which translates to "live today." Are John and Charles living for today? Why or why not?

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