This morning we will gather in church for an informal time of worship and fellowship. It won't lend itself well to recording, but below we will share what we will be doing so that you can adapt it for wherever you are and whenever you are worshipping.
Fizzy prayers Take an effervescent tablet, write on it something you want to let go of or be released from as you step into the new year, then drop it into the water and watch it fizz away. The trouble may not disappear as fast as the tablet, but it can be a powerful way of expressing our need. (We'll be using vitamin tablets, available in chemists and supermarkets with the health supplements. If you don't have any of these, perhaps use a bath bomb or dissolve salt or sugar into water.)
Compass prayers As you look West, where the sun sets, think about old paths and where you have been. As you look East, where the sun rises, think about new beginnings and where you are headed. As you look North, which determines all other directions, think about what guides you or gives you meaning. As you look South, which faces in the opposite direction, think about the things that distract you or hold you back. (Don't worry if you're unsure of which way is North. You could try using a compass app, or simply turn your attention to each reflection.)
Methodist covenant prayer Many Methodists renew their covenant on the first Sunday of the year using the following prayer: I am no longer my own but yours. Put me to what you will, rank me with whom you will; put me to doing, put me to suffering; let me be employed for you, or laid aside for you, exalted for you, or brought low for you; let me be full, let me be empty, let me have all things, let me have nothing: I freely and wholeheartedly yield all things to your pleasure and disposal. And now, glorious and blessed God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, you are mine and I am yours. So be it. And the covenant now made on earth, let it be ratified in heaven. Are you ready to make such a commitment or is something holding you back? What would it look like for you to live by this prayer?
Baking communion bread Mix 250g flour, ½ a sachet of dried yeast, ½ a teaspoon of salt, 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil, and approximately 125ml of sparkling water, then knead for six minutes and divide into balls to bake a batch of bread for us to share as we celebrate communion later. As you knead, you may like to remember this story that Jesus told: The Kingdom of Heaven is like the yeast a woman used in making bread. Even though she put only a little yeast in three measures of flour, it permeated every part of the dough. What small things can you introduce to your life this year that will have big effects? How can you knead the kingdom into action?
We'll be singing some of the carols that didn't make it into our Christmas services, and taking requests for some favourites. You might like to open up whatever platform you use to listen to music, and put together a playlist of your favourite carols to belt out with as much enthusiasm as you can muster.
Below is the liturgy we will use to share in communion, using freshly baked bread if all goes well. Please feel free to use whatever you have to hand and feels appropriate to you. Pray these words or simply reflect quietly as you eat and drink.
Christ, at this turning of the year you have brought us together into your extraordinary presence. We have no words with which to explain or fully understand, and yet we are here with open hearts and open hands. We have come at your invitation, once strangers but now family. Just as grapes and grains have been transformed, we also are transformed by your grace and your love. As we work together to make this world your kingdom, we ask that you continue to transform us.
At these tables, in bread and cup and friendship, we are able to see and hear and smell and touch and taste the gifts that you freely offer to us, and we give thanks with grateful hearts. Encourage us to share your love and your gifts with those around us. Help us to see ourselves in a new light and fill us with a desire for change. And may the Holy Spirit fill us with the promise of new possibilities and open our hearts to your kingdom here on earth. We ask this in Jesus' name. Amen.
We remember that on the night before he died, Jesus shared a meal with his friends. As they ate and drank and talked together, he took a loaf of bread and gave thanks for it and shared it among them, saying "This is my body, which is given for you". He also took a cup and gave thanks for it and shared it among them, saying "This is my blood, which is given for you".
At the start of a new year, we look both backwards and forwards. And so in remembrance of the one who gave his life that we might live, and in anticipation of the feast we will share in heaven, we eat and drink together. I invite you to share the bread and the cup around your tables, with whatever words seem most fitting.
[After all have shared] In sharing this meal, may we start the year as we mean to go on. May we who share Christ’s body live his risen life; we who drink his cup bring life to others; we whom the Spirit lights give light to the world. Amen.
May the hope, peace, joy and love of God go with you into the new year. Amen.