Perhaps you’ve been wondering where we’ve been for the past few Sundays??
Well, last year, we started something of a tradition in our congregations. On the last Sunday of the year, instead of a “regular” service with a sermon and whatnot, we spend time reflecting on where we’ve seen God in the past year and where we hope to see God in the year to come. This reflection is encouraged by various Scripture readings, hymns, and unison prayers, and during the service, people are given the opportunity to come up to the front, light a candle, and share where they’ve seen God or where they hope to find God.
It’s a service that many people find both meaningful and introspective. The following are the readings and prayers used during that service:
Meditation for the New Year
Resurrection never feels like being made clean and nice and pious. … God was never about making me spiffy; God was about making me new. … New looks like every fresh start and every act of forgiveness and every moment of letting of letting go of what we thought we couldn’t live without and then somehow living without it anyway. New is the thing we never saw coming – never even hoped for – but ends up being what we needed all along. ~ Nadia Bolz-Weber, Pastrix
* Call to Worship
One: This is the place,
Many: The place where God is joyfully worshipped.
One: This is the time,
Many: The time we know that God is with us in the coming year.
One: These are the friends,
Many: The friends who celebrate with us and stay with us when the testing comes.
One: This is the faith,
ALL: The faith in Jesus Christ, which challenges us and shapes our future.
* Call to Reconciliation
* Prayer of Reconciliation
The year is fast ending, O God, and we seek a new beginning. Gracefully grant us the gift of careful reflection. Where we have harbored bitterness, give us the ability to put into words our deepest feelings. Where we have nursed grudges, give us the strength to let them go. Where we have lacked the courage of our convictions, give us the ability to stand up and be counted. Where we have failed to work with others in community, give us the sense of joy in a common cause. Where we have questioned our life of faith, give us the insight to turn doubts into fresh commitment. Remind us that your grace is sufficient for us, O God. And as we look to a new year, gracefully grant us a new vision. Amen.
* Words of Assurance
* Passing the Peace of Christ
* Song of Peace – Let There Be Peace on Earth (back of the hymnal)
God WAS ~ Remembering Where We’ve Been
Scripture Psalm 138
Time of Remembering – Where was God in your year?
Please feel free to come forward and share with the congregation anywhere you’ve seen or felt God’s presence in your life or the lives of loved ones over the past year. This is a time to celebrate where God has been with us – the joys as well as the sorrows. With each remembrance, we will light a candle.
Scripture Eccelsiastes 3:9-15
Prayer – unison
We ask, O God, for the grace to be our best selves. We as for the vision to be builders of the human community rather than its destroyers. We ask for the heart it takes to care for all peoples as well as for ourselves. For you, O God, have been merciful to us. You, O God, have been patient with us. You, O God, have been gracious to us. And so may we be merciful, patient, gracious, and trusting with others whom you also love. This we ask through Jesus. This we ask forever and ever. Amen.
God WILL BE ~ Looking Ahead in Hope
Scripture Mark 13:28-37
Time of Anticipation – What are your hopes for the new year?
Please feel free to come forward and share with the congregation what your hopes and prayers are for the coming year. Where do you anticipate needing or seeing God in the days, weeks, and months to come? Again, with each account, we will light a candle.
Scripture John 14:18-27
Prayer (from Pax Christi USA) – unison
Come Spirit of God, grant us the power to be gentle, the strength to be forgiving, the patience to be understanding, and the endurance to accept the consequences of holding on to what is right. Come Spirit of God, help us to put our trust in the power of good to overcome evil, the power of love to overcome hatred. Come Spirit of wisdom and love, Source of all good, teach us your truth and guide our actions in your way of peace. Amen.
So … that was Sunday, Dec. 29, 2013.
What about last Sunday?
Well, it was so darn stinkin’ cold that we decided to cancel worship for both congregations. Since we have a number of members who are older and a number of members who drive in from various distances, we thought it would be safer for everyone if we just stayed home and stayed warm.
Hopefully, you and your loved ones had a blessed Christmas and a safe and happy new year!