Prayer for the New Year

I invite you to consider lighting a candle and offer a prayer this New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day in the quiet style of the Friends (Quakers) or by using a format such as the one below, slightly adapted from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Prayer For The New Year

On New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day, the household gathers at the table or at the Christmas tree or manger scene. Many people make New Year’s Day a day of prayer for peace.

Leader: Let us praise the Lord of days and seasons and years, saying:
Glory to God in the highest!
Response: And peace to his people on earth!

The leader may use these or similar words to introduce the blessing:

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 God for the grace and mercy that fill our days.

Then read the the Scripture from the Book of Genesis 1:14-19:

God said: “Let there be lights in the dome of the sky, to separate day from night. Let them mark the fixed times, the days and the years, and serve as luminaries in the dome of the sky, to shed light upon the earth.” And so it happened: God made the two great lights, the greater one to govern the day, and the lesser one to govern the night; and he made the stars. God set them in the dome of the sky, to shed light upon the earth, to govern the day and the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. God saw how good it was. Evening came, and morning followed—the fourth day.

(The family’s Bible may be used for an alternate reading such as Psalm 90:1-4.)

Reader: The Word of the Lord.
Response: Thanks be to God.

After a time of silence, members of the household offer prayers of thanksgiving for the past year, and of intercession for the year to come …. In conclusion, all join hands for the Lord’s Prayer.

Then the leader continues: “Let us now pray for God’s blessing in the new year.”

After a short silence, parents may place their hands on their children in blessing as the leader says:

Remember us, O God;
from age to age be our comforter.
You have given us the wonder of time,
blessings in days and nights, seasons and years.
Bless your children at the turning of the year
and fill the months ahead with the bright hope
that is ours in the coming of Christ.
You are our God, living and reigning, forever and ever.
R/. Amen.

Another prayer for peace may be said:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Response: Amen.

—Attributed to St. Francis of Assisi

Leader: Let us bless the Lord.

All respond: Thanks be to God.

The prayer may conclude with the singing of a Christmas carol.

Whether or not you choose to light a candle and no matter how you do it, if you do, my old friend Steve Shoemaker and his surviving Views from the Edge seminary friend wish you peace of heart and mind as we enter the storm tossed-sea of 2017.

Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, December 30, 2016.

Verse for New Year’s Day 2015

ghost kites

ghost kites


Old Year, New Year: Old Kite, New Kite

A large blue Delta from Oregon
with two wide trailing tails
mice-eaten, torn by storms,
but still flying. The line knotted,
re-tied after “Hands up, don’t shoot”
and “I can’t breath” and cops killed.

ISIS and drones, beheadings and bombs,
spying on all, torture for some,
my country bought by corporations,
yet Vivaldi still sung, crops harvested,
children born and hugged and taught.
Last year’s kite crashed many times.

A large red Delta for Christmas
with a new line, new tails.
So far blue skies and a steady breeze,
but storms are predicted, injustices
multiply like mice, discord does not die.
This year’s kite, too, is fragile, vulnerable.

– Steve Shoemaker, Urbana, IL, January 1, 1015

On the Cusp of Wonder

New Year’s Eve.

Every calendar with its years is a culture’s invention, a way of breaking the eternal rolling of sunrises and sunsets into an order that suits our needs for what?

For celebration? For budgets? For control? For forgiveness? For hope?

All of the above and more?

Between the passing of one year and the dawning of another we sense a shifting, the movement of something that does not exist: time, the human way of marking turf in the eternal rolling of the spheres.

The tides of time pay no attention because, like time itself, the tides are timeless. They know nothing of us. They ebb and flow in ceaseless rounds of who knows what. And we, standing on the shore’s edge between two tides awaken again to the sense of wonder before what we do not control.

Perhaps Isaac Watts had something like that in mind when he paraphrased Psalm 90:

Before the hills in order stood,
or earth received its frame,
from everlasting thou art God
to endless years the same.

A thousand ages in thy sight
are like an evening gone,
short as the watch that ends the night
before the rising sun.

Time, like an ever rolling stream,
bears all its sons away;
they fly forgotten as a dream
dies at the opening day.

Our God, our help in ages past,
our hope for years to come,
be thou our guard while life shall last,
and our eternal home.

– Isaac Watts, 1719

Since the middle of the 19th century, Watt’s paraphrase has been sung to the tune of St. Anne, named after the London parish where Watts was organist. Click HERE for more on Sir Isaac Watts.

Old Friends (an acrostic)

Have you recalled the fun we had
All those long years ago? So young,
Poor, ignorant a girl, a lad–
Perhaps our song would not be sung,
Yet we would gather, drink, and play.

Not caring what the hours were,
Enjoying ourselves every day,
We danced and laughed our fears to cure.

Years have gone by and yet we know
Each time we meet our smiles will show
Awareness of what they forgave:
Real kindness, all our lives to save…

– Steve Shoemaker, Urbana, IL, December 30, 2013

Wading in the Water

“Wade in the Water” keeps welling up from some deep place of yearning this morning, waiting for 2014. Like the American slaves who sang “Wade in the Water” from the waters edge, I’m wading by the banks of the old order, yearning for something already conceived in the heart but not yet delivered, the new order conceived in Mary’s Magnificat when the mighty are pulled from their thrones and those of “low degree” are lifted up. We can’t part the waters, but we can “wade in the water” – no easy thing – with expectation that “God’s gonna trouble the water.” Sweet Honey in the Rock gives voice to the old slave song.

Christian-Marxist Dialogue: a Memoir

Thanks to Robert Perschmann for bringing attention to this link, sent out as a New Year’s gift by The People’s World, the newspaper of the Communist Party USA.

Robert sent the link as a part of a comment on Views from the Edge’s  post from “Every Valley” from Handel’s “Messiah”. I responded with the following reflection, slightly edited here.:

“Robert, the valleys and mountains, and the rough places a plain, or level place, are so clearly (biblical) metaphors for the coming of economic just. “He has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted those of low degree. He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent empty away.” The hearer is transported into a vision and hope that can only be voiced and heard in poetry. It is the day of the lion and the lamb, the end of violence and sorrow, the end of the disparities of the sated and the sorrowful.

Josef Hromadka

Josef Hromadka

“Josef Hromadka, Czech theologian and “father of Christian-Marxist Dialogue” during the Cold War, always said the church’s unfaithfulness to its calling was responsible for the atheism of communism. In Czarist Russia there were, on the one hand, the Czar and the Church, and, on the other, the peasants, the poor, the suffering who were oppressed by the throne and consigned to perpetual poverty by the church that taught them to be patient in their hope for another world. Hromadka called for the church to confess the sin of abandoning it charter and its hope. He saw in communism the re-awakening of the original grand hope for the coming of the Kingdom of God.

“Hromadka was a much-beloved professor of theology at Princeton Theological Seminary during the 30s and 40s. My father studied with him and remembered him fondly as a great teacher. When Hromadka left his secure teaching position in Princeton in 1947, many of his Western friends and colleagues were deeply disappointed and highly critical. They viewed him as naïve, a communist, or communist-sympathizer. Hromadka returned to create in Czechoslovakia and the wider Eastern bloc a dialogue that would contribute to the hope for a more humane and human society in both the church and the society..

“Thanks for the link. So interesting and rather mind-blowing that the newspaper of the Communist Party USA would choose Beethoven’s 9th as a New Year gift. I’ll listen with new ears.”

Princeton Theological Seminary Professor Charles West’s “Hromadka: Theologian of the Resurrection” offers an in-depth look at Hromadka’s life and witness as seen by a faculty colleague in the West.  Here are some excerpts from the article:

Hromadka rejected both liberalism, with its shallow view (of the human crisis, and conservatism, with its allegiance to old structures which had lost their moral power. “We are living on the ruins of the old world, both morally and politically,” he concluded. “No one single element and norm of our civilization can possibly be taken for granted.”

With this faith which he continually translated into political judgments, Hromadka made the choice to return to Czechoslovakia in 1947, to accept the Communist coup d’etat in 1948, and to work as a Christian within the framework of a Marxist-dominated socialist society.

“I am in no sense a Communist,” he wrote, “but I take part in this revolution from the point of view of my Christian faith which sees the work of the forgiving grace of God in the midst of changes that are coming about.”

Thanks for coming by Views from the Edge. Leave a comment to promote discussion.

The Deeper Memory

“At New Year’s, a Visit with the Deeper Memory”

by Gordon C. Stewart – January  1, 2012

At the end of a year and the beginning a new one, I visit a memory care center.


I walk into Red’s room — the room where he has been now for more than a year. His short-term memory is gone. He doesn’t know his wife or his children. He doesn’t know me. He doesn’t recognize anyone.