God's mercies never come to an end: a service for New Year's Eve
This service was prepared by Ruth Hofman, pastor of Grace Christian Reformed Church, Grand Rapids, Michigan. She based it on a service originally planned by Lorraine Land for the congregation at First Christian Reformed Church, Toronto, Ontario.
As is our custom for New Year’s Eve, we planned a service of prayer for our congregation and for the world. After the Scripture reading, we moved into small groups for a time of reflection and prayer that lasted about ten minutes. Members of each group were invited to reflect on the three areas listed, and then to pray for each other based on those reflections. Praying in small groups is a practice our congregation has found to be a rich source of blessing. Alternatively, different people could lead the three sections of reflections and prayers.
When the first group had finished praying, I started singing a simple refrain, “The light of Christ has come into the world”; another option from Taizé is also suggested below. As different groups finished praying, they joined in the song until everyone was singing. The refrain was intentionally simple, short, quiet, and unaccompanied. Only the text was provided in the bulletin. We then moved into a time of communal prayer for our neighbors. After people mentioned items, I led that prayer. I have found this pattern for New Year’s Eve to be an encouragement to the congregation and a good opportunity for many people to participate.
Gathering in the Presence of God
“O Come, Let Us Adore Him” (Refrain only of “O Come, All Ye Faithful”) PsH 340, PH 41, RL 195, TH 208, TWC 173
“Come into God’s Presence” SNC 3
Call to Worship
Rejoice, friends of God! Celebrate the new life that has been born among us.
Thanks be to God, we are born anew in Jesus Christ, the hope of all the world.
We come to God, this night of all nights, to praise him for his faithfulness throughout our days and to pray for guidance in the coming year.
We come to God, our Creator Redeemer, who formed us and molds us, who healed us and makes us whole. We place ourselves before God, whose care we know and whose help we seek.
Song of Adoration
“Silent Night, Holy Night” PsH 344, PH 60, RL 216, TH 210, TWC 164
Confession and Assurance
Eternal God, who can make all things new, we humbly bring before you the record of our lives in the year now ending.
Where life has been good to us, we give you thanks and praise. Where we have been good to others, may our reward be your smiling face. Where we have fallen short of your good pleasure, forgive us and free us from our sinful past.
(Remembering and confessing in silence)
“From Heaven Above to Earth I Come,” stanza 2 PsH 339, PH 54
cleanse us by your mercy, guide us by your truth, fill us with your love, and lead us forward in hope, through the grace of Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Hope in the Lord
Scripture: Ecclesiastes 3:1-14; John 14:1-14
Reflecting on our lives in the past year and praying for each other
—an outstanding blessing
—a significant sorrow
—hopes for the coming year
“Gloria, Gloria” SNC 115
(Solo voice begins; worshipers join at any time)
Prayers for Our Neighbors Near and Far
(Name persons, places, and situations in our neighborhood and around the world where the hope of Christ is needed; concluding with the Lord’s Prayer.)
Song of Praise
“Joy to the World! The Lord Is Come” PsH 337, PH 40, RL 198, SFL 137, TH 195, TWC 146
Parting Promise: Revelation 21:1-5a
In this new year, the Lord be with you.
And also with you.
May Almighty God—the Father, Son and Holy Spirit—bless, preserve, and keep us this night and for evermore.