This service is intended for the first service of a new calendar year or as a Watch-Night Service. Churches might use such texts as 2 Chronicles 16:9 or Hebrews 6:13-20 to emphasize God's commitment to us during the new year. Psalms and hymns are selected from the 1987 Psalter Hymnal (PH) and Rejoice in the Lord (RL). Scripture verses are taken from the NIV.
CALL TO WORSHIP
Congregation, what is your source of comfort and encouragement?
Our help comes from the Lord,
the maker of heaven and earth.
With joy receive these words of greeting from God:
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord
Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us
from the present evil age, according to the will of our God
and Father, to whom be glory for ever and ever (Gal. 1:3-4).
Praise, O servants of the Lord, praise the name of the Lord.
We love you, Lord, for you heard our voices;
you heard our cry for mercy.
How can we repay the Lord for all his goodness to us?
We will lift up the cup of salvation
and call on the name of the Lord.
We will fulfill our vows to the Lord,
in the presence of all his people (Psalms 116:13-14).
Hymn of Praise: "Greet Now the Swiftly Changing Year" (PH 444:1-5) "Lord God of Hosts, Whose Purpose, Never Swerving" (RL 432)
CONFESSION AND ASSURANCE
Call to Confession
Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us humbly confess our sins before the Lord. The Scripture says: "Whatever your lips utter you must be sure to do, because you made your vow freely to the Lord your God with your own mouth" (Deut. 23:23).
Merciful God and Father in heaven,
you are faithful and just;
you are willing to forgive our sins
and to purify us from all unrighteousness.
Before you and our sisters and brothers
we confess that we have spoken many empty words
and have at times broken even our most sacred vows.
Our sins are an affront to you;
they are a disgrace before the watching world,
and they have caused us unspeakable pain.
Through our Lord Jesus
may we begin this new year
with the joy of knowing we belong to you,
with the freedom of being purified by your blood,
and with the healing which your grace alone can bring.
In the name of our blessed Savior we pray.
Hymn: "Lord, Have Mercy Upon Us" (PH258) "Kyrie" (RL 566).
Assurance of Pardon
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, hear and receive with a believing heart these gospel words: 'Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God"(Rom. 5:1-2).
Hymn: "Not What My Hands Have Done" (PH 260) "Child in the Manger" (RL 215)
PROCLAMATION OF THE WORD
Prayer for Understanding God's Word
Father in heaven, through your gift of grace we have received not only a new year but a future open to your plan of redemption and to the coming of your kingdom. We look forward with faith and confidence, not fear, because our Savior and Lord has promised to be with us this year and always, to the end of the age.
Through your Holy Spirit and Word help us to see the grandeur of your gifts to us. Teach us to understand your good and holy will for our lives, and give us hearts which gladly and joyfully obey you. May this year of grace be one in which we honor you in word and deed. We pray in Jesus' name, Amen.
[Or congregation could sing "O Word of God Incarnate" (PH 279), (RL 387).]
Hymn: "Go Forth for God" (PH 325) "Arise, Your Light Is Come" (RL 418)
Profession of Faith (based on Heidelberg Catechism Q&A32 and 55)
We give thanks to God for entering into covenant with us.
Through his grace we are a chosen people, a royal
priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that
we may declare the praises of him who called us out of
darkness into his marvelous light (from 1 Pet. 2:9).
We accept our identity as the people of God.
We confess that believers, one and all,
are members of the communion of saints,
and therefore share in Christ
and in all his treasures and gifts.
And we believe that it is our duty to use our gifts
readily and cheerfully
for mutual service and enrichment.
As people of God in Jesus Christ
we have received the gift of the Holy Spirit, who anoints
to be prophets who confess the name of Jesus,
to be priests to present ourselves as living sacrifices of
and to be kings who strive against sin and the devil in
and we believe that we will reign with Christ
over all creation, for all eternity.
Hymn: "Christian Hearts in Love United" (PH513) "Let Earth and Heaven Witness Now" (RL 473)
Commitment (from the "Covenant Service" by John Wesley)
And now, beloved, let us bind ourselves with willing
bonds to our covenant God and take the yoke of Christ
upon us. This taking of Christ's yoke means that we are
heartily content that he appoint us our place and work,
and that he alone be our reward.
Christ has many services to be done. Some are easy;
others are difficult.
Some bring honor; others bring reproach.
Some are suitable to our natural inclinations and temporal
interests; others are contrary to both.
In some we may please Christ and please ourselves; in
others we cannot please Christ except by denying
Yet the power to do all these things is assuredly given us
in Christ, who strengthens us.
Therefore let us make the covenant of God our own.
Let us engage our hearts to the Lord, and resolve in his
strength never to go back.
Being thus prepared, let us now, in sincere dependence on
God's grace and trusting in God's promises, yield
ourselves anew to God.
O Lord God, you have called us through Christ to be
partakers in this gracious covenant. We take upon
ourselves with joy the yoke of obedience and engage
ourselves, for love of Christ, to seek and do your perfect
will. We are no longer our own but yours.
I am no longer my own, but yours.
Put me to what you will.
Rank me with whom you will.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed for you or laid aside for you,
exalted for you or brought low for you.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things to your pleasure and
And now, O glorious and blessed God,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
you are mine, and I am yours.
So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth let it be
ratified in heaven. Amen.
Hymn: "Jesu, Jesu, Fill us with Your Love" (PH 601)
"Come Down, O Love Divine" (RL 444)
Offering of Gifts
Hymn: "Forth in Your Name, O Lord, I Go" (PH 324)
"Christ for the World" (RL 422)
May the love of the Lord Jesus
draw us to himself;
May the power of the Lord Jesus
strengthen us in his service;
May the joy of the Lord Jesus fill our souls.
May the blessing of God almighty,
the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit
be amongst you
and remain with you always.
(William Temple, The Oxford Book of Prayer)
This service was prepared by Allan C. Groen, pastor of Trinity CRC, Edmonton, Alberta. It contains excerpts from the Heidelberg Catechism, John Wesley's "Covenant Service," and William Temple's Oxford Book of Prayer.
The words by John Wesley (1703-1791 are from his "Covenant Service" as found in Gathering: A Packet for Worship Planners (Summer/Autumn, 1988), The Working Unit on Worship and Liturgy, Division of Mission in Canada, 85 St. Clair Ave., East, Toronto, Ontario M4T1M8. Wesley's service, along with historical commentary, is also found in Handbook of the Christian Year (Abingdon Press, 1986).