Monday, January 5, 2015


While most of the world was sleeping in their warm beds after a long night of celebrating on New Year’s Eve, a group of us hiked up into the mountains to see the first Sunrise of the New Year. While our Western culture focuses on the parties and celebrations on New Year's Eve; in Eastern culture, the people wake before dawn on the first day of New Year and climb to a higher elevation to observe the first sunrise of the New Year. The first light of the new year is called Hatsuhinode. It is time for renewal, rebirth, and recommitment for the coming year.

Below are some photos:
First Moonrise of the New Year 2015 as it rises between the two peaks of Mount Olympus.
First Sunrise of the New Year above Guardsman Pass.
The warm sun hitting the twin peaks on a very cold New Years Morning.


 The custom of raised hands during worship can be traced to the early years of Israel. The book of Psalms speaks of raised hands: "Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee. Thus will I bless thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in thy name." (Psalms 63.3-4).

One of my Hawaiian friends greeting the Morning Sunrise on the New Year.
Raised hands are symbolic of our dependence on someone else. Raising hands during worship can be similar to children who lift their hands to be picked up, comforted, protected, or carried. It also in modern times signify the act of surrendering to show we do not have a weapon in our hands. Thus, raised hands in worship may suggest a reaching out for God's presence, blessing, comfort, or strength as well  as our surrendering to Him.

Another significant meaning of raised hands is to bless God, much like Aaron's blessing of the people. In Psalm 63 the psalmist says he raises his hands to bless God. This symbolizes both gratefulness and joy for the blessings God has given. Indeed, many of the psalms indicate that hands are raised in song and prayer to show thankfulness and joy for God's great works. The raising of hands for this purpose is common during songs of praise.

Also, the lifting of a hand signifies a vow. This is similar to our custom of raising our hand in court and promising to tell the "truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth." This particular gesture can also be used when one wanting to make a solemn covenant with God.