Worship for Sunday 1st January 2023, by Rev. Caroline Wickens

Invitation to Worship

Gathered in the name of Jesus Christ,

inspired by the Holy Spirit,

and blessed by God,

we come to worship one, holy God.


O God, our own God,

how wonderful is your name in all the earth.

Your majesty is the music of the starry skies.

yet even children of dust can sing your praises.


In the name of the Healer, the Provider and the Enabler

let your gratitude and joy be made known.

O God, our own God,

How wonderful is your name in all the earth!


Hymn: O Lord my God!  (StF 82)

O Lord my God! When I in awesome wonder
consider all the works thy hand hath made,
I see the stars, I hear the mighty thunder,
thy power throughout the universe displayed;

Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to thee,
how great thou art, how great thou art!
Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to thee,
how great thou art, how great thou art!

When through the woods and forest glades I wander
and hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees;
when I look down from lofty mountain grandeur
and hear the brook and feel the gentle breeze:
Then sings my soul…

And when I think that God, his Son not sparing,
sent him to die – I scarce can take it in
that on the cross, my burden gladly bearing,
he bled and died to take away my sin:
Then sings my soul…

When Christ shall come with shouts of acclamation
and take me home – what joy shall fill my heart!
Then shall I bow in humble adoration
and there proclaim, ‘my God, how great thou art!’
Then sings my soul…

Stuart K.Hine (1899 – 1989), © 1953 The Stuart Hine Trust

Opening Prayers

Creative God, you make all things new in heaven and on earth.
We come to you in a new year with new desires and old fears,
new decisions and old controversies,
new dreams and old weaknesses.
Because you are a God of hope,
we know that you create all the possibilities of the future.
Because you are a God of love,
we know that you accept all the mistakes of the past.
Because you are the God of our faith,
we enter your gates with thanksgiving and praise,
we come into your presence with gladness and a joyful noise,
and we serve and bless you. Amen.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 – 13

There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

    a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.

What do workers gain from their toil? 10 I have seen the business that God has given to everyone to be busy with. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. 12 I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. 13 That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God.


Janus: the Roman god of the turning of the year. He had two faces, one looking backward, one looking forward, and he stood at the door of the year, holding together past and future. That’s why this month is called ‘January’ – the month for looking backward and forward.

Our own faith invites us to do the same. Many Christians are in church for the time of transition from the Old Year to the New, and there is still a tradition of watchnight services within Methodism. Even more importantly, the New Year is the commonest time for us to renew our covenant with God in the Covenant Service, looking back in thanksgiving and confession, looking forward in commitment and hope.

Yet looking forward and backward is not the easiest thing to do – we are not designed to look in two directions at once! Can we really make sense of past and future? When we try to do so, we can find it painful. Sometimes looking backwards can lead us into regret and sadness, as we recall mistakes made and things that have gone wrong. Sometimes looking forward can fill us with anxiety and foreboding as we try to work out what is coming next.

The words from Ecclesiastes help us to overcome both past regret and future fears, for they remind us that every part of our lives is woven into the great tapestry of God’s creation and is caught up in God’s love. Whether the past year has been one of weeping or laughing, whether the year to come will bring mourning or dancing, God is with us through all of it. Nothing is so terrible that God leaves us to face it alone. And in our greatest joy, God is still with us, sharing our delight.

As we look to past and future, these words help us reflect on how we should live in the light of God’s presence. What do workers gain from their toil, Ecclesiastes asks. The response holds together being happy and doing good. And though this might seem quite an easy answer, if we go back to the New Year challenge of looking back and looking forward, it turns out to be more profound. When we look back, the memories that make us happy are the ones where we have had the opportunity to do good – in its widest sense, not forgetting that we need to be good to ourselves as well as to others. When we look forward, the prospects that energise us are ones which have the potential to lead to greater happiness for ourselves and for others – to change for good.

This New Year, may God help us look back with realism rather than regret, and look forward with hope rather than anxiety, so that we can recognise the places where we can be happy and do good, hand in hand with our God, who is goodness and love.

Hymn: Be Thou my vision, O Lord of my heart    (StF 545)


Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word;
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, thy child let me be;
Thou in me dwelling, and I one with thee.

Be Thou my breastplate, Sword for the fight;
Be Thou my whole armour, Thou my Delight;
Thou my soul’s Shelter, Thou my high Tower:
Raise Thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.

Riches I heed not, nor earth’s empty praise,
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.
High King of Heaven, my victory won,
May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heaven’s Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.

Prayers for the New Year

Lord God, as we move forward into a new year,

we ask you to bless all who are not looking forward to the coming year.

We think of people who are ill and fearful of what the year will bring.

We think of all who have family difficulties

and are concerned as to how to solve them.

We think of all for whom the new year is bringing money problems,

and all who are fearful for their jobs.


Lord, for us all the future is unknown—

help us to have the faith to trust in you,

the wisdom to do the right thing,

and to be guided by you constantly.


Remind us, Lord, that you always keep your promises;

remind us too that they are kept in your time and not ours.


We ask your blessing on all who have turned their back on You;

or who have not known You.

May they hear your word and respond to your love

Be with those who are lost,

who have never known you.

Help them to seek and find the peace and love found in you and you alone.


Father God—Loving God—we, your children, pray to you

And give you thanks and praise

through the name of your beloved Son, Christ Jesus our Lord.


Heavenly Father we bring before you our loved ones,

and in the silence we pray for them.

For our family, our friends, 

for all whom we know.

May this year be good for all whom we love,


Lord God, guide us in our lives.

May others see your love shine through us.

May our words and actions constantly point to you;

may we put You first in everything

and serve You always.


We ask you to be with us

and give us a year where we know and feel and are guided by your presence.


Whatever the year holds may we never lose sight of you.

In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Hymn: This, this is the God we adore    (StF 67)

This, this is the God we adore,
Our faithful, unchangeable Friend;
Whose love is as great as his power,
And neither knows measure nor end.

‘Tis Jesus, the First and the Last,
Whose Spirit shall guide us safe home;
We’ll praise him for all that is past,
And trust him for all that’s to come.

Joseph Hart, (1712 – 1767)


Let us look for Christ wherever we go

Let us never stop seeking

Believing that there is a light that shines in the darkness

Which the darkness shall not overcome

And may the love of the Creator

The joy of the Spirit

And the peace of the Christ-child

Be with us this New Year, and evermore.

Worship resources from re:Worship