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God of all times and all places, as the calendar flips from one year to the next we are profoundly grateful that while you are always doing a new thing, your character of loving kindness remains constant. As we review a year’s worth of events in our lives and in the life of the world, we confess to sometimes questioning your wisdom, power and, yes, even goodness. We can’t help but lament inconsolable losses. We can’t stop from asking, “Why?” in the face of violence, destruction and death. We can’t keep from wondering, “How long, O Lord?” We often pray, “I believe, but, Lord, help my unbelief.”
Trusting that you do not reject us when we question, doubt and grieve, but instead meet us where we are, embrace and comfort us, we share with you the past year’s greatest hurts, sorrow and suffering. (Silent prayer.)
Almighty and gracious God, it would be unfaithful of us not to also look back, rejoice and give thanks, for there have been many instances of grace, outpourings of mercy, flickers, even brilliant flashes, of light in the darkness. Help us remember and be grateful for the times we have been forgiven despite the evidence of our guilt. Keep us ever mindful of each person who has cared for us, helped us or encouraged us. Don’t let us forget the ever-present beauty that surrounds us: the beauty of creation, of artistic creations, of the people made in your image. May the harvest moons, melodies of music, rhythmic movements of dancers and prophetic words of poets inspire us to share the gifts you given us for your glory.
Knowing that you created all that is, seen and unseen, and called it good, and knowing that your Spirit relentlessly works in us, through us, despite us, to bring about justice, compassion and mercy, we share with you the past year’s greatest joys, manifestations of beauty and moments of grace. (Silent prayer.)
God of memory and hope, you call on us not only to be a people who remember, but to be a people who look forward to the future with eager anticipation. May we recognize your present kingdom and be ready at any moment to welcome Christ when he comes again. As we stand at the beginning of a calendar year, grant us a sure sense of your purpose, gift us with courage, strength, energy, intelligence, imagination and love. Make us signs of your reign, living breathing symbols of servant leadership, sacrificial love, radical forgiveness, the peace that passes understanding and unstoppable, water-rolling justice.
Believing that you equip those whom you call, we boldly ask to be bowled over by the wind of the Holy Spirit. We pray that the Spirit’s flame will burn away our dross, illumine our paths and shine so brightly in us that we might be the light of the world we are called to be. Silence in us any voice but your own as we seek to discern your will for us in this time and place. (Silent prayer.)
Alpha and Omega, our beginning and our end, gather up the fragments of last year, bless them and use them in ways that will nourish your children in the year ahead. We pray in the name of Jesus Christ, your Son and our Savior. Amen.
- Jill Duffield, Editor of Presbyterian Oulook