Christmas -- Days Of

Liturgy for a New Year:  A Service of Holy Communion
New Year’s Celebration   

SETTING THE SPACE
Create a display that portrays the passing of time at the front of the worship space. Place blocks or books on a table to make different levels and cover with fabric. Use items such as old calendars, clocks, electronic planners, and watches in the display. Include fourteen candles of differing heights to be lit during the reading of Ecclesiastes 3:1–13. Have a basket of tealights available, enough for each participant.

Print the words below from Ecclesiastes 3:1–13 on card stock and cut into 1½" x 4 1/4" cards. Print enough so everyone has a choice of words. Make a sign that says, “There is a time for every matter under heaven… What time is it for you?” and place near the cards. Have the cards available near the entrance to the worship space and invite each person to choose one word that best reflects a resolution they have for the New Year.
 
    Birthing                   Dying                     Planting

    Harvesting               Ending                    Healing

    Breaking down         Building up             Weeping

    Laughing                 Mourning                 Dancing

    Throwing away        Gathering                Embracing

    Refraining               Seeking                  Losing

    Keeping                  Throwing away        Keeping silence

    Speaking out           Loving                    Peace making

CALL TO WORSHIP (based on Psalm 8)
    Have a small group sing a simple, chant like response such as Phil Porter's Gathered Here between stanzas of this spoken call to worship. Have the group hum or an instrumentalist continue playing softly as the words are spoken.

    One Beyond Us, One Around Us,  
    One Within Us, Sovereign:
    your name is majestic in all the earth
    and your glory is beyond our imagination.
    We come, at this time, to worship you.

    Musical Response:    Gathered Here                              TNCH 742    
    We look to the sky
    and see the wonders of your creation:
    the moon, the stars, the works of your hands.
    What are we that you are mindful of us?
    Mortal beings limited by time and space,
    yet you care for us?
    We come, at this time, to worship you.
    
    Musical Response:    Gathered Here                              TNCH 742    


    You have made us a little less than gods;
    you form us in your sacred dreams
    and give us the honor of being your children.
    Truly your name is majestic in all the earth.
    We come, at this time, to worship you.

    Musical Response:    Gathered Here                              TNCH 742    

NEW YEAR'S RITUAL

SCRIPTURE – Ecclesiastes 3:1–13
Light the candles in the display at the front of the worship space as Ecclesiastes 3:1–13 is read. Light one candle for each line that begins "a time to. . . " and pause as a candle is lit.

REFLECTION
Invite people to hold the resolution card they chose at the beginning of the service. Ask one or two questions     for reflection such as, "What needs to happen in order for the time you hoped for to be fulfilled? What changes do you need to make? What new things need to be embraced? Of what do you need to be let go?"

    Helper in our Past and Hope for our Future:
    hold our good intentions,
    free us from that which keeps us from the good,
    and enable us to move into the coming year
    with your love behind, beside, and before us. Amen.

RESPONSE
    Invite people to come forward, light a tealight, and place the tealight, along with their resolution card, in the display at the front of the worship space. Have reflective music sung or played during this time.

    Alternatively, if your congregation is willing to process forward to receive communion, people can be invited to place a tealight, along with their resolution card, in the display prior to receiving communion.

HOLY COMMUNION

PRAYER
    Keeper of our days,
    we are grateful for the ways you have been revealed to us in the past:
    through the love of community – gathered here and beyond;
    through nature and the beauty each season brings;
    and through a shared hope ignited within us that does not flicker or fade.
    Confident of your love,
    we bring our whole selves into your presence:
    our achievements and our failures,
    our proud moments and our hidden shame,
    our undying dreams and our detached resolve.

    At this gracious table we meet you
    in bread made of common wheat,
    broken and shared and made whole again
    through a sacred communing with all of creation.

    Holy, holy, holy God of love and majesty,
    the whole universe speaks of your glory,
    O God Most High.

    Blessed is the one who comes in the name of our God!
    Hosanna in the highest!

Offer WORDS OF INSTITUTION in the tradition of your congregation

PRAYER FOR THE HOLY SPIRIT
    Spirit of All Life,
    move among this bread and this cup
    and make us mindful of our oneness with all creation
    so this meal of simple substance
    may become a true communion
    with the one who makes every tomorrow possible.
    In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.

Invite people to receive the bread and cup.

BENEDICTION
    There is a time and a season for everything:
    A time to gather together (sweep arms from side to center of body in a gathering motion)
    and a time to depart. (sweep arms from center of body out to side)
    A time to make promises (motion toward the display of tealights)
    and a time to bring those promises to life. (clasp hands together over heart)
    A time to receive  (motion toward the communion table)
    and a time to share what we have received. (hold hands out toward the congregation)

    Go enfolded in the love of God,
    emboldened by the call of Christ,
    and empowered by the Spirit
    to embrace the year ahead.                             Amen.








Liturgy for the New Year was written by the Rev. Christine Battjes, member of the Seasons of the Spirit Editorial Team.
Copyright 2009 Local Church Ministries, Congregational Vitality and Discipleship Ministry Team, United Church of Christ, 700 Prospect Avenue, Cleveland, OH  44115-1100.  Permission granted to reproduce or adapt this material for use in services of worship or church education.  All publishing rights reserved.

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CONTACT INFO

Rev. Susan A. Blain
Minister for Worship, Liturgy and Spiritual Formation
700 Prospect Ave.
Cleveland, Ohio 44115
216-736-3869
blains@ucc.org