Evening Prayer at the End of a Troubled Year
Officiant: Be still and know that I am God.
People: Be still and know that I am God.
Officiant: Be still and know that I am
People: Be still and know that I am
Officiant: Be still and know
People: Be still and know
Officiant: Be still
People: Be still
People of God, we come to this service of Evening Prayer at the end of a long, troubled year. It has been a year of sickness, a year of strife at our polling places, in our streets and conflict within our families and friendships. We have endured a year of natural disasters which have beset a world thus far unwilling to deal with its own behaviors in the causing of climate change. We have arrived at the end of this troubled year tired, bruised, frightened and angry. And we watch in no small amount of apprehension as a new year approaches.
But we are a people of faith. We are a people of hope. We place our trust in a God who is always present with us in all things. And so we come to this time of prayer tonight to give thanks for that loving presence as the light begins to return to our darkened world.
May we be mindful of the difficulties of this year which is passing as we pray this night. Let us remember those we have lost, the struggles we have lived through, the dreams left unrealized. Let us mourn our losses and lick our wounds. And then may we let go of this troubled year, leaving it at the foot of the altar of God and beginning anew with the coming of a new year.
Let us pray:
Almighty God, we give you thanks for surrounding us, as daylight fades, with the brightness of the vesper light; and we implore you of your great mercy that, as you enfold us with the radiance of this light, so you would shine into our hearts the brightness of your Holy Spirit; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The Invitatory and Psalter
Officiant: O God, make speed to save us.
People: O Lord, make haste to help us.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen. Alleluia.
[Here the candles of the Christmas Season are lit]
O Gracious Light Phos hilaron
O gracious light,
pure brightness of the everliving Father in heaven,
O Jesus Christ, holy and blessed!
Now as we come to the setting of the sun,
and our eyes behold the vesper light,
we sing your praises, O God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
You are worthy at all times to be praised by happy voices,
O Son of God, O Giver of Life,
and to be glorified through all the worlds.
Psalm 34, Benedicam Dominum
1 I will bless the Lord at all times; *
his praise shall ever be in my mouth.
2 I will glory in the Lord; *
let the humble hear and rejoice.
3 Proclaim with me the greatness of the Lord; *
let us exalt his Name together.
4 I sought the Lord, and he answered me *
and delivered me out of all my terror.
5 Look upon him and be radiant, *
and let not your faces be ashamed.
6 I called in my affliction and the Lord heard me *
and saved me from all my troubles.
7 The angel of the Lord encompasses those who fear him, *
and he will deliver them.
8 Taste and see that the Lord is good; *
happy are they who trust in him!
9 Fear the Lord, you that are his saints, *
for those who fear him lack nothing.
10 The young lions lack and suffer hunger, *
but those who seek the Lord lack nothing that is good.
11 Come, children, and listen to me; *
I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
12 Who among you loves life *
and desires long life to enjoy prosperity?
13 Keep your tongue from evil-speaking *
and your lips from lying words.
14 Turn from evil and do good; *
seek peace and pursue it.
15 The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, *
and his ears are open to their cry.
16 The face of the Lord is against those who do evil, *
to root out the remembrance of them from the earth.
17 The righteous cry, and the Lord hears them *
and delivers them from all their troubles.
18 The Lord is near to the brokenhearted *
and will save those whose spirits are crushed.
19 Many are the troubles of the righteous, *
but the Lord will deliver him out of them all.
20 He will keep safe all his bones; *
not one of them shall be broken.
21 Evil shall slay the wicked, *
and those who hate the righteous will be punished.
22 The Lord ransoms the life of his servants, *
and none will be punished who trust in him.
Glory to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.
18 Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. 20 But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.’ 22 All this took place to fulfil what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: 23 ‘Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel’, which means, ‘God is with us.’ 24 When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife, 25 but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son; and he named him Jesus.
Officiant: The Word of the Lord.
People: Thanks be to God.
Magnificat, The Song of Mary Luke 1:46-55
My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior;*
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:*
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear him*
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,*
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,*
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,*
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel,*
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
The promise he made to our fathers,*
to Abraham and his children for ever.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.
Meditation: Letting Go
Brothers and Sisters, I now invite us to consider the year that has passed. May we remember first the joys we have experienced, the accomplishments we have achieved, the milestones we have passed. Let us be grateful for those moments when all seemed right with our world.
Now let us acknowledge the hardships. Let us hold those memories in our consciousness for just a moment without repressing them from our minds. May we acknowledge the suffering of this very trying year even as we remember that God was present with us through all those challenging moments. And may we give thanks that we have made it through, painful as it might have been, grateful for our passage through troubled times.
Now let us gather up the pains, the fears and the anger in our hearts and the troubled memories stored in our minds that we may let go of them. This past year is over. The future is not yet in our hands. Only the present remains available to us. So let us hold out our hands, unclenching them to release all the suffering they have held this year. And as we extend our now empty hands out to God, may they be filled with the work we have been given to do in the coming year and the assurance of God’s loving presence.
For the year just completed and for the year about to begin, let us give thanks to God. Amen.
Litany for the End of the Year
God, with your help we have come here,
To the end of another year,
Some bearing smiles,
Others bearing scars.
We reflect upon your goodness now
Your constant Presence,
Your unfailing love,
Your kind regard.
You offer peace.
You offer nearness.
You offer a new life.
You offer transformed hearts.
Heal us where we are wounded.
Sort us where we are confused.
Sweeten us where we are bitter.
Open us where we are shut-down.
For all the ways you’ve revolutionized our hearts and minds this year
We give thanks.
For the improvements to our character,
We give thanks.
For challenges tackled and trials endured,
We give thanks.
For disappointments that have re-oriented us,
We give thanks.
For pain that has disciplined us,
We give thanks.
For love that has soothed us,
We give thanks.
For the light of Christ, whose life has illumined the path of peace,
We give thanks.
[Litany for End-of-year Reflection, Fran Pratt, 2016)
Prayers for a New Year
O God, our lives are made of days and nights, of seasons and years,
for we are part of a universe of suns and moons and planets.
We mark ends and we make beginnings and, in all,
we praise you for your grace and mercy that fill our days.
Remember us, 0 God;
who from age to age have been our comforter.
You have given us the wonder of time,
blessings in days and nights, seasons and years.
Bless all your children at the turning of the year
and fill the months ahead with the bright hope
that is ours in the coming of the Christ child,
light coming into a darkened world.
For you are our God, living and reigning, for ever and ever. Amen.
[Prayer for Blessing of a New Year, Catholic Culture]
A Prayer of St. Chrysostom
Almighty God, you have given us grace at this time with one accord to make our common supplication to you; and you have promised through your well-beloved Son that when two or three are gathered together in his Name you will be in the midst of them: Fulfill now, O Lord, our desires and petitions as may be best for us; granting us in this world knowledge of your truth, and in the age to come life everlasting. Amen.
Officiant: Let us bless the Lord.
People: Thanks be to God.
May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, [+] and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with us all evermore. Amen.
[2 Corinthians 13:14]
The service in which this liturgy was used can be found at this site:
Most content used herein came from the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer. The portions added to this service are offered with gratitude and attributions of sources. This liturgy is freely offered to the public for use in communal worship and individual prayer.
Harry Scott Coverston Orlando, Florida If the unexamined life is not worth living, surely an unexamined
belief system, be it religious or political, is not worth holding. Most things
worth considering do not come in sound bites. Those who believe religion and politics aren't connected don't
understand either. – Mahatma Gandhi For what does G-d require of you but to do justice, and to love
kindness, and to walk humbly with your G-d? - Micah
6:8, Hebrew Scriptures Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world's grief. Do justly,
now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly now. You are not obligated to complete the
work, but neither are you free to abandon it. - Rabbi
Rami Shapiro, Wisdom of the Jewish Sages (1993) © Harry Coverston, 2020 +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Harry Scott Coverston
If the unexamined life is not worth living, surely an unexamined belief system, be it religious or political, is not worth holding. Most things worth considering do not come in sound bites.
Those who believe religion and politics aren't connected don't understand either. – Mahatma Gandhi
For what does G-d require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your G-d? - Micah 6:8, Hebrew Scriptures
Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world's grief. Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it. - Rabbi Rami Shapiro, Wisdom of the Jewish Sages (1993)
© Harry Coverston, 2020