Prayers, litanies, and ideas to mark the coming of a new year
Central Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, closes each year by including the Roll Call of the Saints and the Roll Call of the Newborn in its worship liturgy.
Central has observed this tradition for over fifteen years as a way of reminding the congregation of lives that they should celebrate. Looking back, they read the list of names of those who have died during the year and celebrate the lives of these saints who contributed much of their time, talents, and gifts to the ministry of the church. Looking forward, they read the list of names of those who were born during the year and celebrate the future leaders of the church, the miracle of life, and the growth of the Christian family.
The process is a simple one. As part of their response to the Word, the people read through the list of names for the Roll Call of the Saints and then sing the first stanza of "For All the Saints." They then read the Roll Call of the Newborn and sing the first verse of another appropriate hymn. The names are printed in two lists in the bulletin, along with the dates of deaths and births.
Using Psalm 90 and the familiar hymn by Isaac Watts based on Psalm 90.
Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations.
Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
O God, our help in ages past, our hope for years to come, our shelter from the stormy blast, and our eternal home.
Before the hills in order stood or earth received its frame, from everlasting you are God, to endless years the same.
You turn us back to dust and say, "Turn back, you mortals."
For a thousand years in your sight is like yesterday when it is past, or like a watch in the night. You sweep them away; they are like a dream, like grass that is renewed in the morning. The clays of our life are seventy years, or perhaps eighty, if we are strong; even their span is only toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away.
A thousand ages in your sight are like an evening gone, short as the watch that ends the night before the rising sun.
Time, like an ever-rolling stream, soon bears us all away; we fly forgotten, as a dream dies at the opening day.
Turn, O Lord How long? Have compassion on your servants!
Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, so that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. Let your work be manifest to your servants, and your glorious power to their children. Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and prosper for us the work of our hands—
O prosper the work of our hands!
Under the shadow of your throne your saints have dwelt secure; sufficient is your arm alone, and our defense is sure.
O God, our help in ages past, our hope for years to come, still be our guard while troubles last, and our eternal home!
from For His Excellent Greatness, resources for -worship prepared by the Reformed Church in America Northern Regional Center, 1790 Grand Boulevard, Sclienectedii, NY 12039
PRAYER OF CONFESSION
As we draw to the close of this year and claim the year ahead, our Father, we need to confess to you those pieces of the past that persist in pulling us backward. Through admitting our failures and sharing our sin, we would like to put away those things that nibble and nag, deenergize and depress.
With boldness, then, and a certain measure of embarassment, we admit to squandering time and talent, good intentions and better ideas, opportunities for growth and occasions for grace. We admit that we have most often taken care of ourselves while others have stood in line. We have defined our interests carefully and our goals precisely, using energy and expertise gainfully to the detriment of family, friends, community, and church.
We agonize with memories that sit heavily and images that cause us to blush, and ask that you would grant us your forgiveness as we confess our individual regrets and remorse in silence…
Through Jesus Christ, our Lord, Amen.
This prayer was submitted by Central Reformed Church, Grand Rapids, Michigan.