New Year's Eve/Day

December 19th, 2011

The final night of the year finds many Christians reflecting on the events of the past and looking ahead to the future. This is a night which can be devoted to a new commitment to witness and service. The focus should be hopeful, not dwelling on the past, but acknowledging it and looking to the future. The service is relatively quiet and reflective in the beginning moving toward confident energy at the end. [The service may either begin at 11 p.m. on December 31st or it may be held on New Year’s Day. Some churches may choose to plan a Watch Night service.]

Call to Worship
Welcome to this time of quiet expectation.
We have come here from extremely busy times.
Come and find rest. Come and find hope.
This is the last night of this year; we do not know what is to come.
Do not fear. Look with eager joy for the presence of the Lord in your life.
Open our eyes, ears, and hearts, O Lord, to receive your message of hope for us.

Call to Worship 2
Tonight we are keeping watch.
Tonight we say goodbye to the old year and look hopefully into the new year.
Thought the darkness is deep, the Light of the World guides our way.
Even though we don't really know what is to come, we know that God is with us.
Quietly, reverently, open your hearts to God.
Praise be to God, who was and is and is to be. Amen.

Opening Prayer
Lord, we bring to you this night our past, with all that has happened in our lives, our hopes and our dreams, our successes and our failures, our gains and our losses. We bring to you our present, lives filled with exhaustion, wonder, fear, concern. We come to you with hearts open to receive your word for us, for the future. We want to be part of your new heaven and earth, to serve you by serving others. Speak to us, heal us, teach us, lead us, for we ask these things in Jesus' Name. AMEN.

Prayer of Confession
Lord, you have asked us to feed and give drink to those who hunger, to clothe those who are naked, to welcome the stranger, to visit those who are sick and imprisoned. When we look back on this year we might be able to say we did some of those things. We remember the enthusiasm with which we started out this waning year, ready to do your work and witness to your love. But you know how things got in our way. We allowed ourselves to be swallowed up by worries and fear. We placed comfort of self before service to others. We took the "easy way out" whenever we could. And you wept for us. Now we are on the brink of the new year. We cannot change what we did not do, but we can make a covenant with you to be your witnesses in our words, thoughts and deeds to your people so that when you say, "Have you given food and drink to those who hunger and thirst, have you clothed the naked, welcomed the stranger, visited the sick and imprisoned?" We can respond with a joyful "Yes! Lord, we have done these things with joy and love!" Forgive us what we have not done. Inspire us to do what you would have us do. In Jesus' Name, we pray. AMEN.

Words of Assurance
God is making all things new. The past is over and done. It taught us many lessons. But God is the God of the future, new opportunities, new hopes, new dreams, renewed vision. God dwells with us to be our God. We are not alone. Thanks be to God. AMEN.

Pastoral Prayer
Lord, our Lord, how incredible and magnificent is your name in all the earth. Your voice spoke the word of light and the light was given. Your heart shouted hope and love and creation was born. Your tears cried torrents for your errant people, and your prophets boldly stepped forward to proclaim your presence. Your Love streamed down and Jesus the Christ came to us, to heal, teach, guide, and bring us to you. This is a time of new beginnings. Let the light of your love shine on us, that we may feel and know your powerful presence with us. Let the light of your love shine in us, that we may be encouraged to use our gifts and talents to serve others. Let the light of your love shine through us, that others may come to know you. In this time of new beginnings, new hopes arise. Give us courage to reach out for new dreams and hopes; give us confidence that we can accomplish much for you. AMEN.

Suggested music

Hymn of Promise
This Is a Day of New Beginnings
Come, Ye Disconsolate
We Shall Oversome
Blessed Quietness
Joy Comes With the Dawn
Faith Is Patience in the Night

Go from this place to bring hope, love, joy and peace to all you meet. And remember God is always with you. Amen.

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