A Prayer for a New Year

This morning our congregation met by the miracle of Zoom to enjoy our breakfast while welcoming a new year. Here’s a litany I wrote that several church members offered to welcome 2021.

Litany as a Year Ends and Another Begins


As we look back on 2020 we remember a virus that took our world by storm. We retreated to our homes. We stopped hugging. We left our offices and schools. Play dates ceased. Money became tight. Some people lost their homes. Others lost their lives. We grieve the loss of those who loved us and whose imprint upon us is lasting. In the thick of the pandemic, we mourn the loss of what once was. We welcome this new year with the promise of vaccinations and renewed freedoms. We are mindful that we will not be the same when we emerge from COVID and we thank God for the deep lessons we have learned in this time of trial.   (Light a candle)


We are thankful that God gifts us with vocations, particular talents that serve our communities well. We rejoice when our labors can positively impact someone else. We are amazed at how we have learned to do our work in new ways with the limitations of COVID. We pray for those who are now unemployed or underemployed because of the virus. We continue to act with generosity toward those who are in need, knowing that Jesus modeled this in His own life. As we enter a new year we invite God to use us so that our work in home, office or school can be of benefit to our families and world.   (Light a candle)


We look back on 2020 and praise God for the tremendous joy of new babies joining our families. We are thankful for parents who sacrifice so that their marriages are strong and model for their children a way of forgiving and loving. We rejoice in baptisms as parents commit to raise their child in the nurture of Christ’s Church. We pray for our children and youth who crave the routine of a school day. We are in awe of parents who have had to become home-schoolers for children who are tired of learning on screens. We pray for the mental well-being of the youngest members of our cities and towns. We pray for the estimated 18 million children in our country who are food insecure. Remembering that Jesus took small children in His arms and blessed them, we commit in 2021 to be strong advocates through prayer and action for our world’s children.    (Light a candle)


Our understanding of worship broadened in 2020. Words like Zoom and Streaming entered our congregational life. We taped directional arrows on the floor. We eliminated group singing. We worshiped in our pajamas and yearned to see our church friends. As we enter a new year we are assured that worship happens in our hearts every moment of every day. We miss our church family dearly and greatly anticipate the day that we can be together again safely in our sanctuary. But our worship has not ceased. We embrace the opportunities to reach out to our brothers and sisters in Christ through creative acts of kindness. We willingly sacrifice from the well-being of our own lives to support those for whom each day is a trial. Having faced our mortality squarely in the past year, we thank God for the gift of each day and the companions with whom we share our journey.  (Light a candle)


Even as the Corona Virus raged through our communities, our politicians stormed at each other with angry words. As our world narrowed to our homes, we tuned in to news programs that reminded us too often that we are a divided nation. We use different lenses through which we interpret current events. As we stand on the brink of a new year we invite God to unite us as we face issues of economic crisis and prejudicial attitudes. We pray for the new administration at the helm of our national politics that they may be guided by Christian virtues. We rejoice in the strong tradition of America to fight for the underdog and to place our trust in God so that freedom might ring forth for all. May this year be a time of reshaping our society into the likeness of the world God promises is yet to come.   (Light a candle)


It seems as if our world has shrunk in the past year. We realize we are tragically linked to a town called Wuhan in China. Our hearts have been stirred by our Italian neighbors who sang from their balconies for the renewal of their spirits. We have witnessed medical personnel of all nationalities responding courageously to a sickened world, sometimes giving up their own lives through their tireless service. We are grateful for scientists who worked together in unprecedented unanimity to find a vaccination that can bring relief and healing to our troubled globe. For the beauty of the earth, the treasured relationships that mark every culture, governments that have accomplished much by working alongside of other nations in the severe testing of 2020, we are thankful. We greet 2021 with hard-earned hope and an awareness that Christ’s love grows in the darkest places.   (Light a candle)


God of our ancestors, Creator of the universe, Lover of every soul that ever was or is or shall ever be, we humbly come into Your presence. We thank you for stirring within the depths of our being a hunger to be united with You. We thank You for the gift of Your Son, Jesus. We praise You for His earthly ministry which culminated in His willingness to lay down His life for the salvation of the world. Through the power of Your Holy Spirit, call us into lives of servanthood. Forgive us our past so that we can leave baggage behind. Invigorate us in 2021 to run the race You set before us, our eyes focused on the prize of eternal life in Your glory. Renew our faith as we step out boldly to transform the ordinary into the holy. Through Your grace we pray. Amen.     (Light a candle)

By preachinglife

My father was a military chaplain so I moved around quite a bit growing up. I have always gone to church! Even when we traveled we went somewhere to church. I met and married my husband, Garrett, at Chicago Theological Seminary where I earned a Masters of Divinity degree. He and I were ordained together at the First Church of Lombard, United Church of Christ in Lombard, Illinois on June 14, 1987. My first act as an ordained minister at the end of a tremendously hot ordination ceremony was to baptize my daughter, Lisa Marian! We added two sons and a daughter to the mix: James, Joseph and Maria. We have girls on either end and two boys one year apart in the middle. They range in age from 33 to almost 22. I love them!

I have been in the parish ministry for 35 years, serving at three different churches. I have joyfully served the people at the First Congregational Church of Rockford, United Church of Christ in Rockford, Michigan for 24 years.

We live on family land about 3 miles from the church. In random free moments I enjoy cooking good meals, reading, writing, gardening, traveling and spending time with my family. I am blessed!

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