Teach Us to Number Our Days
Our Approach to God
[Sound of clock ticking; the words, “Teach us to number our days” appear one by one on screen. Piano plays “Now Is the Time to Worship” as PowerPoint slide dissolves into the words of the song. Throughout the service, words of all litanies and songs are projected on screen.]
Call to Worship
On this final day of the year 2008, the Lord calls us to renew our covenant with these words: “I am the Lord your God who will surprise you with love at daybreak; we will skip and dance all the day long.”
Let your servants see what you’re best at—the ways you rule and bless your children.
I am the Lord your God. At this time and in this place, let us worship together and renew our love for each other.
Opening Hymn of Praise
“O Come, My Soul, Sing Praise to God” PsH 297, TH 6
God says to us, “I am your home forever, long before the mountains were born, long before I brought earth itself to birth, from ‘once upon a time’ to ‘kingdom come’—
I am God.”
We Greet One Another
God has greeted us, so let us now greet one another by sharing an experience this past year that caused us to skip or even dance. It might have been a sporting event you played in, a moment from a vacation you took, a moment of wonder at creation—some moment that gave you pause, a memory that you appreciate.
We Are Reconciled to God
Call to Confession
We thank God for all the wonderful things we experienced in the past year. But though we have much to be grateful for, we also have much to confess. We cannot come before God unless we are first honest with ourselves about who we are, about the mistakes we make, and about how well or poorly we care for others. (adapted from TWS 2.1.14)
Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of your name; deliver us, and forgive our sins, for your name’s sake. (Psalm 79:9)
Let us sing our confession to God with these words:
Sung Prayer: “Good to Me” SNC 71
Words of Assurance
God hears our confessions and promises forgiveness. Hear the words of Romans 5:17: “For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.” Let us sing of God’s gift to us.
Hymn of Assurance: “Good Christian Friends, Rejoice” CH 273, PH 28, PsH 355, TH 207, WR 198
God Speaks to Us
Prayer for Illumination
Drama: Part 1 (available at www.reformedworship.org)
Scripture: Psalm 90
Sermon: “Counting the Days”
Drama: Part 2 (available at www.reformedworship.org)
Hymn of Application: “As Moses Raised the Serpent Up” PsH 219, SFL 165
We Dedicate Ourselves to God
Prayers of the People
We Depart to Serve
Go in peace, knowing that God will satisfy us in the morning with his unfailing love, that he will makes us glad, and his favor will rest upon us. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen.
Parting Hymn: “Lord of the Universe” PsH 362
New Year’s Eve Service Drama, Part 1
Mary: [on phone] I know what time it is. I’ll be there—I just have to take care of a few things first. The kids left on the school bus at 7:27. Tom carpools with Larry at 7:45. The dog groomer will be here at 8:01 and then I’ll be out the door at 8:03. If traffic cooperates and I’m on the express lanes by 8:16, I should be in the parking lot by 8:44, which gives me 16 minutes to park the car and make the 9:00 meeting. Sound good? [listens] I don’t think we have to synchronize our watches, but right now I have 7:32. OK? Alright, 10-4, over and out. [closes cell phone, calls out] Tom, it’s [consults watch], it’s 7:32, no—make that 7:33. You have twelve minutes left. [looks away, notices a box sitting on the table] What’s this? [picks up box and reads] To the Joneses, from God. [quickly puts wrapped box down] Tom, is this some sort of joke?
[Tom comes in.]
Tom: I don’t have time for jokes. I have a full 9-hour-and-23-minute day of work planned. What are you talking about?
Mary: This present wasn’t here a minute ago. Did you put this here?
Tom: Sorry, I didn’t. It there a card or a tag on it?
Mary: Yes, the tag says, “To the Joneses, from God.”
Tom: Really?!? Open it and see what is inside.
Mary: I’m not going to open it. You open it.
Tom: I’m not going to open it. It’s bad luck to open a gift that someone else found. You open it.
Mary: This could be some sort of prank, and I don’t have time for a prank. You have to leave in ten minutes and I need to get ready for a 9 o’clock meeting.
Tom: It only takes 7 to15 seconds to open a gift. If this is from God, wouldn’t we want to know what he is sending us?
Mary: No. This is probably bad news, and we don’t have time to deal with bad news.
Tom: Why do you think it’s bad news? Why couldn’t it be good news?
Mary: Think about it, Tom. When God gives things to people, it’s usually directions to do something for him. You don’t think Moses ever wondered how his life would have been different if he’d never taken the time to listen to a burning bush? By the way, you now have eight minutes. Are you eating anything for breakfast?
Tom: Breakfast can wait. We need to open the gift. It’s probably something that will help us out. At least pick it up and shake it. Maybe if we guess what’s inside we’ll feel more comfortable opening it.
Mary: Alright, but I’m doing this quickly. [picks up box cautiously] It’s really light. Maybe it’s empty.
Tom: It could be set of angel’s wings.
Mary: Very funny, Tom. [lifts box higher and shakes it gently; hears a ticking sound and drops box] Tom, it’s ticking! It’s a time bomb!
Tom: That’s silly. Calm down, Mary. God doesn’t send bombs in wrapped presents. What else could make a ticking sound?
Mary: [pausing to think] I suppose God could be sending me a nice clock. But why? We have plenty of clocks. And you know me—I do a fine job of keeping track of time. By the way, you are down to six minutes. Do you have your lunch?
Tom: I’ll get some fast food today. Listen, let’s open the gift so we can start the day on a positive note. When people ask us why we’re so happy today, we can tell them we got a gift from God.
Mary: No thanks, Tom. This is one gift that can wait until we get home. [car horn sounds] There’s Larry, time for you to go. We don’t want to be late.
Tom: OK, see you at 5:30. [begins to exit]
Mary: No, it’ll be 5:47. I need to pick up the kids from piano lessons at 5:15. When you get home at 5:22, put the frozen lasagna in the oven at 350 for 75 minutes. Don’t forget! The garlic bread can go in the oven an hour after the lasagna goes in. Got it?
Tom: [yelling out the door] Maybe you want to write it down. . . .
Mary: Are you listening to me? Ahhhh! [runs the other way]
Mary: [greets Tom, sitting at the table with the present] Honey, I’m home. Did you get dinner in the oven at the right time?
Tom: Our ETE, estimated time of eating, is now 6:03. That gives us sixteen minutes to open the gift. Are you ready?
Mary: OK, I guess we’ve put this off long enough. Are you sure you won’t open it?
Tom: No dear, you need to open the gift. I’ll be right behind you. [moves behind Mary]
Mary: Alright, here goes. . . . [begins opening the gift tentatively] Look! It is a clock. At least, I think it’s a clock. [Mary looks at the clock closely and thoughtfully]
Tom: What do you mean, “I think?”
Mary: The clock has numbers but no hands.
Tom: How could you ever tell time with this? Are you sure it’s a clock?
Mary: Here’s an inscription right on the clock. It says, “God’s time.”
Tom: That’s odd. Does it come with any instructions? Maybe we have to plug it in or add some batteries or something.
Mary: Add batteries for a clock from God? You’re kidding, right?
Tom: I don’t know, but there must be something more. Check the back.
Mary: [checks back] It says, “To operate, insert yourself into God’s time.” What does that mean? There’s no place to insert anything in this clock.
Tom: What kind of gift is this? Why would God give us a clock like this? Doesn’t he realize we don’t have time to solve mysteries?
Mary: Mystery . . . maybe that’s part of it. Maybe that’s why this clock has no hands.
Tom: What are you getting at?
Mary: Well, we’ve been running around like chickens with our heads cut off. Maybe God wants us to slow down. Maybe God wants us to live more within the mystery of his time, not ours.
Tom: Who’s got time for that? Besides, we don’t know how. Who could teach us?
Mary: I’m not sure, but if God is willing to give us his clock, he’ll give us the wisdom to use it. We have to trust that he’ll do that for us. [oven buzzer softly sounds from another room]
Tom: There’s the oven buzzer, it’s time.
Mary: Yes, it’s time.
Tom: So what are we going to do?
Mary: What are we going to do?