It seems strange to be posting for New Years worship before we have had Christmas Eve and I will return to Christmas tomorrow, but knowing that many must create Sunday worship for next week, I share from the new book, From the Psalms to the Cloud, from liturgist Abigail Hastings of New York City in her prayer originally written for Judson Church.
Abigail Hastings is the ultimate lover of Calls to Worship and Opening Prayers. They are so much more than a liturgical clearing of the throat, the throwaway before the real -deal begins. They are the Call! It’s shofar time, folks!
Is there anything more presumptuous, hopeful, crazy, and prodigal-Mama in all the world than inviting people to be in worship together?
So, for Abigail, an opening prayer for New Year’s is the opposite of the sad-tinsel-time it can be for many of us. She writes about the artistic inspiration for her prayer that follows. “This service included special music by the legendary performer, Jomama Jones (Daniel Alexander Jones), who co-wrote with Bobby Halvorson a powerful song called ‘Open.’ It includes the line ‘If your world falls apart, rearrange the broken pieces’ and repeats the refrain ‘Give yourself to save yourself.’ So the reference in the prayer echoes what had just been heard to keep those wonderful phrases in hearts and minds.”
A Prayer for the New Year
O God, in whom we live and move and have our being,
we begin a new dance with you again today.
We mark our days in arbitrary ways—it must seem so funny –
but on this new day in this new year
we confess to being so bold
as to ask that we might be co-creators with you.
Help us, O God, that we too may create beauty out of nothingness;
help us envision elegant solutions to intractable problems,
to manufacture usefulness and purpose and intention
that in this new year we might surprise ourselves
with what we can accomplish together.
Create in each of us a clean heart, O God. Give us
new eyes to see the needs of others, renewed energy
for the work to be done, and in so doing,
to spread joyfulness in the pleasure of living.
Create in us a new idea about ourselves,
that we might find mercy
and forgiveness within, and cast aside impediments
to being most fully who we are meant to be.
Rearrange the broken pieces.
Teach us how to give ourselves to save ourselves.
O God, we thank you for this community of people, for the commitment to reach those who need a cool cup of water in whatever form that may take. Bless us now as we re-imagine and expand the reach of our fountain, a fountain drawn from the source of life and love, ever flowing into our days. Amen.
Abigail also notes this about her piece. “More than a hundred years ago our church provided an actual water fountain, sorely needed, to those living in nearby tenements of the day—and that was the tie in to the concluding line.” This church really knew how to make a big splash with their giving!