Yesterday evening I watched a sample of New Year’s Eve celebration programming on the major networks.  Eventually I needed a break from the mindless secular musings about fashion trends and memorable videos of 2015. As I read through the New Year’s Eve prayer entry in the Lutheran Book of Prayer I was struck by how clear and precisely it speaks to our culture’s belief that each year can and perhaps must be better than the last.  Here is the entry:

Lord we hailed bravely the beginning of the year now almost past. We took this year all bright and shiny, from your hand and determined that it would be different from all others. We were eager to fill it with good things, so that we proudly could hand it back to You this night.

Now Lord see what we have done! The year shows that for the most part we do not improve with the passage of time but only become older sinners instead.

As the clock once again strikes twelve tonight, can we join in the gaiety? The sound of the gong could well be our death knell in the new year. Nevertheless, Lord, we come before You in the hope that Jesus offers, because He came into the world to save sinners.

In this spirit we offer our broken and contrite hearts. These You will not despise. Lord, we have no time, past, present, or future, except Christ’s time for us: forgiven time behind us and with us, hope- filled time before us. Only in Christ’s time can we live, because His time is grace. Amen.

The time between Christmas day and New Year’s day offers a unique amount of free time.  I believe this free time coupled with cold winter weather provides just a touch of boredom which serves as an extra incentive to be in the New Year’s resolution mindset.

Nothing wrong with thought of self improvement if they are in the proper faith perspective.  However, the language of the New Year’s Eve Prayer points out how easily our hearts may cling to the false idol of self perfection and self determination in the New Year.  The church’s heritage of prayers from the faithful who have gone before us can help ground us in God’s Word in our thoughts and hopes for the New Year.

To conclude here is the New Year’s Day prayer in the Lutheran Book of Prayer:

Lord God, heavenly Father, though You have created us for a life of eternity, we confess that by our sins we have transformed the space of time into a prelude for death. Forgive us the sins of the past, and breathe into us the Spirit of Your Son that we may serve You in this new year.

On this first day of a new year pour into our hearts the rich measure of Your grace, that we may fill the moments of the new year with the enduring qualities of eternity. On this day You placed Your Son under the law to fulfill all righteousness for us; make us Your obedient children. On this day our Lord was given His name according to Your Word; may we also be known by His name.

In Him we find courage to begin again.  He is our Beginning and our End, our Alpha and our Omega. In Him is our hope.  In Him this year and all things are made new because we are forgiven.  For His sake help us to live for You and our fellowman. Amen.

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