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New Year's Eve Ecumenical Watch Night Vigil (December 31, 2023)


A Vigil for New Year's Eve

December 31, 2023 at 6:00 PM

An Ecumenical Offering with:

Butler Memorial Presbyterian, First Congregational, and Holy Spirit Lutheran Churches


St. Matthew's Linktree: https://linktr.ee/stmattsav

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The New Year’s Eve Vigil for Watch Night 2023



The Christmas Service of Light

 

Light and peace, in Jesus Christ our Lord.

Thanks be to God.

 

In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. The Word was with God in the beginning. Everything came into being through the Word, and without the Word nothing came into being. What came into being through the Word was life, and the life was the light for all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness doesn’t extinguish the light.

 

Let us pray:

 

Almighty God, you have poured upon us the new light of your incarnate Word: Grant that this light, enkindled in our hearts, may shine forth in our lives; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

 

Pray the following litany as the Advent Wreath Candles are lit.

 

Tonight, we celebrate the hope fulfilled in the birth of Christ.

Joy to the world! The Lord has come.

Tonight, we celebrate the promise of peace on earth.

Let earth receive her King.

Tonight, we celebrate the joy of knowing a savior has come.

Let every heart prepare Him room.

Tonight, we celebrate the love of God, through Jesus Christ.

Joy to the world, the Savior reigns!

 

Tonight, we light all five candles on this advent wreath. As the flames gleam we are reminded that Christ is the true light of the world, and with the Christ candle in the center, the flames of hope, peace, joy and love burn even brighter. So it is with Christ in our hearts, we can rest in the hope of eternal life, and look forward to the promised peace on earth. Amen.



AAHH #217: Jesus the Light of the World


1 Hark the herald angels sing.

Jesus, the light of the world.

Glory to the new-born King.

Jesus, the light of the world.

 

REFRAIN

We’ll walk in the light, beautiful light.

Come where the dewdrops of mercy shine bright.

Oh, shine all around us by day and by night.

Jesus, the light of the world.

 

2 Joyful, all ye nations, rise.

Jesus, the light of the world.

Join the triumph of the skies.

Jesus, the light of the world. [Refrain]

 

3 Christ, by highest heav'n adored.

Jesus, the light of the world.

Christ, the everlasting Lord,

Jesus, the light of the world. [Refrain]

 

4 Hail, the heav'n-born Prince of Peace.

Jesus, the light of the world.

Hail, the Sun of righteousness!

Jesus, the light of the world. [Refrain]


[Words: George D. Elderkin; verses by Charles Wesley, Public Domain. Music: We'll Walk in the Light, George D. Elderkin; arr. Evelyn Simpson-Curenton © 2000 GIA Publications, Inc. Reprinted with permission under ONE LICENSE #94883. All rights reserved.]



The Collect for the Holy Name of Jesus (Jan. 1)


The Lord be with you.

And also with you.

Let us pray:

 

Eternal Father, you gave to your incarnate Son the holy name of Jesus to be the sign of our salvation: Plant in every heart, we pray, the love of him who is the Savior of the world, our Lord Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.



The Hebrew Year

Readings led by Deacon Melvin Washington of First Congregational


A Reading from the Book of Exodus (23:9-16, 20-21)


Don’t oppress an immigrant. You know what it’s like to be an immigrant, because you were immigrants in the land of Egypt. For six years you should plant crops on your land and gather in its produce. But in the seventh year you should leave it alone and undisturbed so that the poor among your people may eat. What they leave behind, the wild animals may eat. You should do the same with your vineyard and your olive trees. Do your work in six days. But on the seventh day you should rest so that your ox and donkey may rest, and even the child of your female slave and the immigrant may be refreshed. Be careful to obey everything that I have said to you. Don’t call on the names of other gods. Don’t even mention them.

 

You should observe a festival for me three times a year. Observe the Festival of Unleavened Bread, as I commanded you. Eat unleavened bread for seven days at the appointed time in the month of Abib, because it was in that month that you came out of Egypt. No one should appear before me empty-handed. Observe the Harvest Festival for the early produce of your crops that you planted in the field, and the Gathering Festival at the end of the year, when you gather your crop of fruit from the field.

 

I’m about to send a messenger in front of you to guard you on your way and to bring you to the place that I’ve made ready. Pay attention to him and do as he says. Don’t rebel against him. He won’t forgive the things you do wrong because I am with him.

 

Hear what the Spirit is saying to God’s people.

Thanks be to God.



LEV #208: We’ve Come This Far By Faith


REFRAIN:

We’ve come this far by faith,

Leaning on the Lord.

Trusting in his holy word.

He’s never failed me yet.

Oh, oh- oh- can’t turn around,

We’ve come this far by faith.

 

1 Don’t be discouraged

when trouble's in your life.

He’ll bear your burdens

and move all misery and strife,

that's why... [REFRAIN]

 

2 Just the other day I heard someone say,

He didn’t believe in God's word.

But I can truly say that God has made a way.

And He’s never failed me yet.

that's why... [REFRAIN]


[Words and Music: Albert A. Goodson, Copyright © 1963, renewed 1991 Manna Music, Inc.; harm. Richard Smallwood, Copyright © 1963, renewed 1981 Manna Music, Inc. Reprinted with permission under ONE LICENSE #22180. All rights reserved.]


Let us pray:

O God our Creator, you have divided our life into days and seasons, and called us to acknowledge your providence year after year: Accept your people who come to offer their praises, and, in your mercy, receive their prayers; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


Marking the Times

Readings led by a member of St. Matthew's


Psalm 19


1 The heavens declare the glory of God, *

and the firmament shows his handiwork.


2 One day tells its tale to another, *

and one night imparts knowledge to another.


3 Although they have no words or language, *

and their voices are not heard,


4 Their sound has gone out into all lands, *

and their message to the ends of the world.


5 In the deep has he set a pavilion for the sun; *

it comes forth like a bridegroom out of his chamber;

it rejoices like a champion to run its course.


6 It goes forth from the uttermost edge of the heavens

and runs about to the end of it again; *

nothing is hidden from its burning heat.


7 The law of the LORD is perfect and revives the soul; *

the testimony of the LORD is sure and gives wisdom to the innocent.


8 The statutes of the LORD are just and rejoice the heart; *

the commandment of the LORD is clear and gives light to the eyes.


9 The fear of the LORD is clean and endures for ever; *

the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.


10 More to be desired are they than gold, more than much fine gold, *

sweeter far than honey, than honey in the comb.


11 By them also is your servant enlightened, *

and in keeping them there is great reward.


12 Who can tell how often he offends? *

cleanse me from my secret faults.


13 Above all, keep your servant from presumptuous sins;

let them not get dominion over me; *

then shall I be whole and sound, and innocent of a great offense.


14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of

my heart be acceptable in your sight, *

O LORD, my strength and my redeemer.



LEV #191: His Eye is on the Sparrow


1 Why should I feel discouraged,

Why should the shadows come,

Why should my heart be lonely,

And long for heav’n and home;

When Jesus is my portion?

My constant friend is He:

 

REFRAIN:

His eye is on the sparrow,

And I know He watches me;

His eye is on the sparrow,

and I know He watches me.

I sing because I’m happy,

I sing because I’m free;

For His eye is on the sparrow,

And I know He watches me.

 

2 “Let not your heart be troubled,”

His tender word I hear,

And resting on His goodness,

I lose my doubts and fears;

Though by the path He leadeth,

But one step I may see; [Refrain]

 

3 Whenever I am tempted,

Whenever clouds arise,

When songs give place to sighing,

When hope within me dies,

I draw the closer to Him,

From care He sets me free; [Refrain]


[Words: Civilla D. Martin. Music: Charles H. Gabel; arr. Horace Clarence Boyer. Arr. Copyright © 1992 Horace Clarence Boyer. Tune: © Gospel Publishing House, assigned to Lorenz Publishing Company. Reprinted with permission under ONE LICENSE # 1002280]


Let us pray:

Almighty Father, you give the sun for a light by day, and the moon and the stars by night: Graciously receive us, this night and always, into your favor and protection, defending us from all harm and governing us with your Holy Spirit, that every shadow of ignorance, every failure of faith or weakness of heart, every evil or wrong desire may be removed far from us; so that we, being justified in our Lord Jesus Christ, may be sanctified by your Spirit, and glorified by your infinite mercies in the day of the glorious appearing of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen. 



A Season for All Things

Readings led by Alderman and Dea. Detric Leggett, Sr. of Holy Spirit


A Reading from the Book of Ecclesiastes (3:1-15)

 

There’s a season for everything and a time for every matter under the heavens: a time for giving birth and a time for dying, a time for planting and a time for uprooting what was planted, a time for killing and a time for healing, a time for tearing down and a time for building up, a time for crying and a time for laughing, a time for mourning and a time for dancing, a time for throwing stones and a time for gathering stones, a time for embracing and a time for avoiding embraces, a time for searching and a time for losing, a time for keeping and a time for throwing away, a time for tearing and a time for repairing, a time for keeping silent and a time for speaking, a time for loving and a time for hating, a time for war and a time for peace.

 

What do workers gain from all their hard work? I have observed the task that God has given human beings. God has made everything fitting in its time, but has also placed eternity in their hearts, without enabling them to discover what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there’s nothing better for them but to enjoy themselves and do what’s good while they live. Moreover, this is the gift of God: that all people should eat, drink, and enjoy the results of their hard work. I know that whatever God does will last forever; it’s impossible to add to it or take away from it. God has done this so that people are reverent before him. Whatever happens has already happened, and whatever will happen has already happened before. And God looks after what is driven away.

 

Hear what the Spirit is saying to God’s people.

Thanks be to God.



LEV #71: In Times Like These

1 In times like these you need a Savior,

In times like these you need an anchor;

Be very sure, be very sure,

Your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock!

 

REFRAIN 1:

This Rock is Jesus, Yes He's the One,

This Rock is Jesus, the only One;

Be very sure, be very sure,

Your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock!

 

2 In times like these you need the Bible,

In times like these, O be not idle;

Be very sure, be very sure,

Your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock! [REFRAIN 1]

 

3 In times like these I have a Savior,

In times like these I have an anchor;

I'm very sure, I'm very sure

My anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock!

 

REFRAIN 2:

This Rock is Jesus, Yes He's the One,

This Rock is Jesus, the only One;

I'm very sure, I'm very sure,

My anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock!


[Words and Music: Ruth Caye Jones, Copyright © 1944 Singspiration Music / ASCAP. All rights reserved.]


Let us pray:

In your wisdom, O Lord our God, you have made all things, and have allotted to each of us the days of your life: Grant that we may live in your presence, be guided by your Holy Spirit, and offer all our works to your honor and glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.



The Acceptable Time

Readings led by Elder Sharon Singleton of Butler Memorial


A Reading from the Second Letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians (5:17-6:2)


So then, if anyone is in Christ, that person is part of the new creation. The old things have gone away, and look, new things have arrived!

 

All of these new things are from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and who gave us the ministry of reconciliation. In other words, God was reconciling the world to himself through Christ, by not counting people’s sins against them. He has trusted us with this message of reconciliation.

 

So we are ambassadors who represent Christ. God is negotiating with you through us. We beg you as Christ’s representatives, “Be reconciled to God!” God caused the one who didn’t know sin to be sin for our sake so that through him we could become the righteousness of God. Since we work together with him, we are also begging you not to receive the grace of God in vain. He says, I listened to you at the right time, and I helped you on the day of salvation. Look, now is the right time! Look, now is the day of salvation!

 

Hear what the Spirit is saying to God’s people.

Thanks be to God.



LEV #225: Oh, Freedom!


1 Oh, freedom! Oh, freedom,

Oh, freedom over me!

An’ be fo’ I’d be a slave

I’ll be buried in my grave,

An’ go home to my Lord an’ be free.

 

2 No mo’ moanin’, no mo’ moanin’,

No mo’ moanin’ over me!

An’ be fo’ I’d be a slave

I’ll be buried in my grave,

An’ go home to my Lord an’ be free.

 

3 No mo’ weepin’, no mo’ weepin’,

no mo’ weepin’ over me!

An’ be fo’ I’d be a slave

I’ll be buried in my grave,

An’ go home to my Lord an’ be free.

 

4 There’ll be singin’, there’ll be singin’,

there’ll be singin’ over me!

An’ be fo’ I’d be a slave

I’ll be buried in my grave,

An’ go home to my Lord an’ be free.

 

5 There’ll be shoutin’, there’ll be shoutin’,

there’ll be shoutin’ over me!

An’ be fo’ I’d be a slave’ll be buried in my grave,

An’ go home to my Lord an’ be free.

 

6 There’ll be prayin’, there’ll be prayin’,

there’ll be prayin’ over me!

An’ be fo’ I’d be a slave

I’ll be buried in my grave,

An’ go home to my Lord an’ be free.


[Words: Traditional. Music: negro Spiritual; arr. Carl Haywood, from The Haywood Collection of Negro Spirituals Copyright © 1992. Reprinted with Permission under ONE LICENSE # 28167]


Let us pray:

Most gracious and merciful God, you have reconciled us to yourself through Jesus Christ your Son, and called us to new life in him: Grant that we, who begin this year in his Name, may complete it to his honor and glory; who lives and reigns now and for ever. Amen.



The Sermon

The Rev. J. Jacob Sanders, Pastor of Holy Spirit Lutheran Church, Savannah, GA



A Litany for Watch Night (AAHH #104)

Leader:

O God, as was customary of our parents and ancestors, we come to this Watch Night vigil to be with you, in your house, as we usher out the old year and welcome the dawning of a new year.

 

We come, thanking you for guidance and direction. Go before us, O God, and draw us into the future where you are.

 

Leader:

Our enslaved ancestors watched that night long ago for the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. Lord, keep us awake and alert as we follow in the light of your Word, searching for the good news of the gospel, and the comforting signs of your love in this world.

 

We thank you for watching over us and caring for us through the old year, as we walked in the light of your love. We thank you for your promises of peace, healing, and justice.

 

Leader:

We come, O God, with great expectations and great hopes. Keep these fires kindled within us that we may watch and wait, and once more feel your presence. Let us know your power as we embark upon this journey.

 

You have led us in the past. Guide us now, and always, that we might choose to do your will and follow your way. We are pilgrims in a barren land.

 

Leader:

We give you praise, O God, for your goodness and mercy; for life, health and friends, and for the many blessings you always send. Above all, we thank you for Jesus Christ, who lifts our hopes, guides us in the Way, in this new year, and in years to come.

 

All praise, honor, glory, and thanks to you, our God, through Jesus Christ our risen Savior and Lord. Amen.

 


The Peace

 

The peace of Christ be always with you.

And also with you.



Parish Announcements


Christmas Season Worship Schedule:

  • Sunday, January 7, 2024

  • 1st Sunday After the Epiphany - Holy Communion


Savannah MLK Jr. Day Parade on Jan. 15: The Episcopal Diocese of Georgia and St. Matthew's Episcopal Church and Day Care invite you to join us for the annual Savannah Martin Luther King Jr. Day Parade on Monday, January 15, 2024 at 10:00 AM. The parade route begins at East Broad Street and Liberty Street and ends in front of St. Matthew's Episcopal Church, 1401 M. L. King Jr. Blvd, Savannah, GA 31415. We will have a walking group and a trolley-riding group. Marchers and riders may park cars at St. Matthew's beginning at 8:45 AM (enter the parking lot behind the church from Burroughs Street and W Anderson Street) and get dropped off at the parade starting point. The last shuttle will leave at 9:45. After the parade, St. Matthew's will host a brief worship service and a lunch reception. 


Grow and Glow in Grace Gear!: St. Matthew's is producing branded clothes and other merchandise with our new Grow and Glow in Grace mission logo! Order T-shirts for $25, embroidered Polo shirts for $40, Mugs for $15, Pens for $2 each, and more! All proceeds will go to the Building Capital Campaign (for remodeling the kitchen, preserving the stained glass windows, replacing the roof, and more)! Order forms are available in church now.

***Mugs, pens, shirts, polos, and more have arrived!***


T/W/Th Evening Prayer on Zoom/Facebook: On Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, St. Matthew's invites you to pray Evening Prayer with us over Zoom at 5:00 PM. If you want to be in the Zoom call, please join by 4:55 PM using the link in the e-Newsletter.



The Offertory


The collection this evening will be directed to Justice Unites Savannah Together (JUST), an interfaith justice advocacy organization. Its purpose is to build a powerful vehicle through which people of faith can hold the local systems accountable for fair policies and resource allocation. Our 2024 goals include improving literacy in Savannah-Chatham County public schools and increasing the availability of affordable housing in our city. Our inspiration comes from the Prophet Micah who says that all that the Lord requires of us is to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with our God (Micah 6:8). St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church and Butler Memorial Presbyterian Church are founding members of this organization, while Holy Spirit Lutheran Church and First Congregational Church are re-joining the organization in 2024.


Giving to St. Matthew's:

  1. Mail us a check or money order at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, 1401 Martin Luther King, Jr., Blvd, Savannah, GA 31415; OR

  2. Make a secure online gift to St. Matthew’s and/or automate future gifts at: https://onrealm.org/StMattSav/-/give/now; OR

  3. Text “stmattsav” to 73256 to make a secure online donation through your phone.

NOTE: Donations made online (#2 or #3) through Realm incur a processing fee of about 2.5%. Please consider adding an additional 2.5% to your online gift to cover these costs.


Through Christ let us continually offer to God the sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge the Holy Name. But do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. [Hebrews 13:15-16]



LEV #1: Lift Every Voice and Sing


1 Lift ev’ry voice and sing,

Till earth and heaven ring,

Ring with the harmonies of liberty;

Let our rejoicing rise

High as the list’ning skies,

Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.

Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us;

Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us;

Facing the rising sun

Of our new day begun,

Let us march on till victory is won.

 

2 Stony the road we trod,

Bitter the chast’ning rod,

Felt in the days when hope unborn had died;

Yet with a steady beat,

Have not our weary feet

Come to the place for which our fathers sighed?

We have come over away that with tears has been watered;

We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered;

Out from the gloomy past,

Till now we stand at last

Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast.

 

3 God of our weary years,

God of our silent tears,

Thou who hast brought us thus far on the way;

Thou who hast by thy might,

Led us into the light,

Keep us forever in the path, we pray.

Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met thee;

Lest our hearts, drunk with the wine of the world, we forget thee,

Shadowed beneath Thy hand,

May we forever stand,

True to our God, true to our native land.


[Words: James Weldon Johnson. Music: J. Rosamond Johnson. Copyright © 1921 by Edward B. Marks Music Company. Copyright Renewed. International Copyright secured. All Rights reserved. Used by Permission. Used with permission under ONE LICENSE # 85147.]



LEV #264: The Lord’s Prayer


And now, as our Savior Christ has taught us, we are bold to sing,

 

Our Father, which art in heaven, hallowed be thy Name,

Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread.

And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.



The Blessing of the People



LEV #227: We Shall Overcome


1 We shall overcome,

We shall overcome,

We shall overcome some day;

Oh, deep in my heart, I do believe,

We shall overcome some day.

 

2 We’ll walk hand in hand, 

We’ll walk hand in hand, 

We’ll walk hand in hand today;

Oh, deep in my heart, I do believe,

We’ll walk hand in hand today.

 

3 God is on our side, 

God is on our side, 

God is on our side today;

Oh, deep in my heart, I do believe,

God is on our side today.

 

4 We are not afraid, 

We are not afraid, 

We are not afraid today;

Oh, deep in my heart, I do believe,

We are not afraid today.

 

5 We shall live in peace, 

We shall live in peace, 

We shall live in peace someday;

Oh, deep in my heart, I do believe,

We shall live in peace some day.


[Words: Traditional. Music: Negro Spiritual; arr. Carl Haywood, from The Haywood Collection of Negro Spirituals. Copyright © 1992. Reprinted with permission under ONE LICENSE # 88613.]



The Dismissal

[BCP, p. 366]


Let us go forth in the name of Christ!

Thanks be to God!




The Parish Prayer List


PRAYER LIST: Jacqueline Bryant, Lazola Cope, Beryl Dandy, Aaron, Natalie, and Olivia Duplechien, Charles Gordon, Marva Harris, David Jones, Beverly Kemp, Whitney Kennedy, Sada Maxwell, Russell Nails, Jeannette Outing, Jewel Wheeler


BIRTHDAYS: N/A

WEDDING ANNIVERSARIES: N/A


RECENT DEATHS: N/A


May the souls of all the departed rest in peace; and may light perpetual shine upon them. Amen.



Permissions and Credits: This service is reproduced from Enriching Our Worship 1 (EOW1), The Book of Common Prayer 1979 (BCP), The Hymnal 1982 (Hymn), Lift Every Voice and Sing II: An African American Hymnal (LEV), and other sources cited. Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture readings are from the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) of the Bible.


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