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A Liturgy for New Year's Eve
with Holy Communion

by The Rev. Thomas L. Weitzel
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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For many many years, as I would travel south to spend time with my family in Florida for Christmas, I would visit Bethel Lutheran Church in St. Petersburg (now called Hope Lutheran). They had kindly adopted me as a son of the congregation just before I went to school and seminary back in 1980 after I had served there as their minister of music. During those later visits after my ordination, I would often be invited to be part of a New Year's Eve service that was intentionally informal, early in the evening (7 p.m.), small crowd, but intimate, frequently followed by a short reception or a gathering at some member's home. I honestly thought I would never like New Year's Eve service, but I came to find this a very special occasion. As I said, it was informal -- no vestments, communion by intinction, short liturgy, half sheet with liturgy below, nothing fancy -- but it was also something special and intimate standing as the cusp of the old year leading to the new, with a focus on reflection and more than anything on God's time. Here's one of the services we used in the late '90s that I put together. Oh yeah, we never took an offering. The church treasurer would have shot us after already closing the books!

 

 

GATHERING

Prelude

Entrance Hymn  "Hark, the Herald Angels Sing"

 

Dialog for New Year's Eve:

A: For everything there is a season:

C: And a time for every matter under heaven:

 

A: A time to be born and a time to die.

C: A time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted.

 

A: A time to break down, and a time to build up.

C: A time to weep and a time to laugh.

 

A: A time to keep and a time to throw away.

C: A time to be silent and a time to speak.

 

A: A time to love and a time to hate.

C: A time for war and a time for peace.

 

A: God has made everything suitable for its time.

C: God has put a sense of past and future into our minds.

 

A: God has done this, so that all should stand in awe before him.

C: Whatever God does endures forever.

 

Hymn of Praise  "Angels We Have Heard on High"

 

Prayer of the Day:

A: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

C: And also with you.

A: Let us pray. Eternal Father, you have placed us in a world of space and time, and through the events of our lives you bless us with your love. Grant that in this new year we may know your presence, see your love at work, and live in the light of the event that gives us joy forever -- the coming of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.  (LBW 159)

C: Amen

 

WORD

First Lesson:   Revelation 21:1-6a

Psalm 8 (read in unison)

 

Gospel Lesson:

     P: The Holy Gospel according to John, the twentieth chapter.

     C: Glory to you, O Lord!

 

     The reading:  St. Luke 13:6-9

 

     P: The Gospel of the Lord!

     C: Praise to you, O Christ!

 

Reflections

 

Hymn of the Day   "O God, Our Help in Ages Past"

The Litany (spoken)      LBW Page 168

The Peace

MEAL

Communion Hymn   "Let All Mortal Flesh "

Great Thanksgiving (spoken)  - [Note: no Proper Preface or Sanctus]

Prayer of Thanksgiving for Christmas  (ELW III, LBW IV)

Our Father

Distribution

Post-Communion Prayer

 

SENDING

Blessing

Closing Hymn  "Greet Now the Swiftly Changing Year"

Dismissal