When we gather for worship on New Year’s Eve, we do so to praise God for the past year—to thank God for the wonderful gifts he has given us and to remember his wonderful deeds. But what if our year has not been good? What if, when we think back on the year, all we can remember is pain and heartache? What if we lost someone we dearly loved? What if we drifted away from a loving friend? What if we lost our job and are struggling to make ends meet? What if we’ve fallen into sinful behavior and find it difficult to break free? What if we feel abandoned by God?
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.]
This New Year’s Eve service is really a series of three services connected by music sung by the congregation. Each section focuses on a different part of the Old Year or New Year.
In the first section we thank God for what he has done for us in the past. In the second section we ask God to forgive us as we enter into a New Year, and in the third section we are reminded to start out the New Year with a solid foundation. Each section consists of songs, Scripture
readings, a short reflection on the topic and the Scripture reading, and prayer.
In Mexico City, for the most part, New Year’s Eve is a night for worship and family gatherings, not a night for wild public gatherings.
The congregation at Gethsemane Presbyterian Reformed Church in Mexico City celebrates New Year’s Eve with gentle traditions of remembrance spiced with hope. Families gather first for worship and then in their homes for midnight supper.
We prepared this service for the beginning of Advent. It would also be suitable for the Sunday before Advent, when celebrating Christ the King Sunday, since it covers the entire Christian year. Worship leaders had printed copies of the service, including all the texts. The congregation had no printed worship folder; all the texts were projected on a screen. Also projected were the section titles of each section of the service along with medieval art depicting the Holy Family (also see front cover).
Twenty minutes after midnight one of the MCs at this year’s annual New Year’s bash in Niagara Falls, Ontario, asked the crowd, “How do you like the year so far?” The crowd, which had just enjoyed a rock concert and a fireworks display, screamed its approval, oblivious to a fatal bombing in an earlier time zone that had elicited screams of a different kind. That’s the schizophrenic kind of world we live in.
Steven L. Case. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2002. 128 pp. $19.99.
While serving in youth ministry in an Episcopal church, Steven Case came to value The Book of Common Prayer (BCP) as one of the most important tools in his ministry “next to the Bible (and caffeine, of course).” He decided to write an “uncommon” book based on the BCP, where the prayers would be directly related to the obstacles and challenges teenagers face daily.