Friday, December 31, 2021

Sermon - New Year's Eve, December 31, 2021

'The book of Revelation gives us the vision of the end of time. The word ‘end’ can be defined as a stopping point, but a richer and fuller meaning might be expressed in the use of the word ‘goal.’ The goal of time is the healing of all things.' 

Service of the Word on New Year's Eve - December 31, 2021, 6:30 pm

The livestream may be found here.

OPENING MUSIC                                                            Two Improvisations

From Heaven Above

Greet Now the Swiftly Changing Year



XHYMN             Greet Now the Swiftly Changing Year             Green LBW 181 

 1                      Greet now the swiftly changing year

With joy and penitence sincere.

Rejoice! Rejoice!

With thanks embrace another year of grace.


2                    Remember now the Son of God

And how he shed his infant blood.

Rejoice! Rejoice!

With thanks embrace another year of grace.


3                     This Jesus came to end sin’s war;

This name of names for us he bore.

Rejoice! Rejoice!

With thanks embrace another year of grace.


4                    His love abundant far exceeds

The volume of a whole year’s needs.

Rejoice! Rejoice!

With thanks embrace another year of grace.


5                    With him as Lord to lead our way

In want and in prosperity,

What need we fear in earth or space

In this new year of grace!


6                    “All glory be to God on high,

And peace on earth!” the angels cry.

Rejoice! Rejoice!

With thanks embrace another year of grace.


7                     God, Father, Son, and Spirit, hear!

To all our pleas incline your ear;

Upon our lives rich blessings trace

In this new year of grace!


Holy is the Lord, the Almighty,

                He was, he is, and he is to come.

He is worthy of glory and honor and power.

                He created all things. By his will they came to be.

Worthy is Christ, the Lamb who was slain;

                worthy to take the scroll and break its seals.

By his blood he purchased for God

                people of every race and tongue, of every folk and nation.

Christ made of them a kingdom

                and priests to serve our God.

And they shall reign on earth forever.

                Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.



God has made us his people through our Baptism into Christ.

Living together in trust and hope, we confess our faith.


                I believe in God, the Father almighty,

                                creator of heaven and earth.


                I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.

                                He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit

                                                and born of the virgin Mary.

                                He suffered under Pontius Pilate,

                                                was crucified, died, and was buried.

                                He descended into hell.

                                On the third day he rose again.

                                He ascended into heaven,

                                                and is seated at the right hand of the Father.

                                He will come again to judge the living and the dead.


I believe in the Holy Spirit,

                                the holy catholic Church,

                                the communion of saints,

                                the forgiveness of sins,

                                the resurrection of the body,

                                and the life everlasting. Amen


PSALMODY:  Psalm 8


1 O | Lord our Lord,*

                how exalted is your name in | all the world!

2 Out of the mouths of in- | fants and children*

                your majesty is praised a- | bove the heavens.

3 You have set up a stronghold against your | adversaries,*

                to quell the enemy and | the avenger.

4 When I consider your heavens, the work | of your fingers,*

                the moon and the stars you have set | in their courses,

5 what is man that you should be mind- | ful of him,*

                the son of man that you should | seek him out?

6 You have made him but little lower | than the angels;*

                you adorn him with glo- | ry and honor;

7 you give him mastery over the works | of your hands;*

                you put all things un- | der his feet:

8 all | sheep and oxen,*

                even the wild beasts | of the field,

9 the birds of the air, the fish | of the sea,*

                and whatsoever walks in the paths | of the sea.

10 O | Lord our Lord,*

                how exalted is your name in | all the world!


The Lord be with you.

  And also with you.


Eternal Father, you have placed us in a world of space and time, and

through the events of our lives you bless us with your love. Grant that in

this new year we may know your presence, see your love at work, and

live in the light of the event which gives us joy forever—the coming of

your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.





FIRST READING                                                           Ecclesiastes 3:1-13


For everything there is a season,

and a time for every matter under heaven:
2a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
3a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
5a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
6a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to throw away;
7a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
8a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.
9What gain have the workers from their toil? 10I have seen the business that God has given to everyone to be busy with. 11He has made everything suitable for its time; moreover he has put a sense of past and future into their minds, yet they cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. 12I know that there is nothing better for them than to be happy and enjoy themselves as long as they live; 13moreover, it is God's gift that all should eat and drink and take pleasure in all their toil.


The Word of the Lord.

  Thanks be to God.


SECOND READING                                                    Revelation 21:1-6


1I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,
 “See, the home of God is among mortals.
 He will dwell with them;
 they will be his peoples,
 and God himself will be with them;
4he will wipe every tear from their eyes.
 Death will be no more;
 mourning and crying and pain will be no more,
 for the first things have passed away.”
  5And the one who was seated on the throne said, “See, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.” 6aThen he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.”


THIRD READING                                                         Matthew 25:31–46


31When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory.  32All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats,  33and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left.  34Then the king will say to those at his right hand, 'Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world;  35for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,  36I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.'  37Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink?  38And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing?  39And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?'  40And the king will answer them, 'Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.'  41Then he will say to those at his left hand, 'You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels;  42for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink,  43I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.' 

44Then they also will answer, 'Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?'  45Then he will answer them, 'Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.'  46And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."


The Word of the Lord.

  Thanks be to God.




XHYMN                              From Heaven Above                                Green LBW 51


Stanzas 1-2, 8, 13-14

1      From heav’n above to earth I come

        to bring good news to ev’ryone!

        Glad tidings of great joy I bring

        to all the world, and gladly sing:


2      To you this night is born a child

        of Mary, chosen virgin mild;

        this newborn child of lowly birth

        shall be the joy of all the earth.



8      Welcome to earth, O noble Guest,

        through whom this sinful world is blest!

        You turned not from our needs away!

        How can our thanks such love repay?



13    My heart for very joy now leaps;

        my voice no longer silence keeps;

        I too must join the angel-throng

        to sing with joy his cradle-song:


14    “Glory to God in highest heav’n,

        who unto us his Son has giv’n.”

        With angels sing in pious mirth:

        a glad new year to all the earth!





Let us pray.                                                 


Almighty God, giver of all things, with gladness we give thanks for all your goodness. We bless you for the love which has created and which sustains us from day to day. We praise you for the gift of your Son our Savior, through whom you have made known your will and grace. We thank you for the Holy Spirit, the comforter; for your holy Church; for the means of grace; for the lives of all faithful and good people; and for the hope of the life to come. Help us to treasure in our hearts all that our Lord has done for us, and enable us to show our thankfulness by lives that are wholly given to your service.

  Hear us, good Lord.


Save and defend your whole Church, purchased with the precious blood of Christ. Give it pastors and ministers filled with your Spirit, and strengthen it through the Word and the holy sacraments. Make it perfect in love and in all good works, and establish it in the faith delivered to the saints. Sanctify and unite your people in all the world, that one holy Church may bear witness to you, the creator and redeemer of all.

  Hear us, good Lord.


Give your wisdom and heavenly grace to all pastors and to those who hold office in your Church, that, by their faithful service, faith may abound and your kingdom increase.

  Hear us, good Lord.


Send the light of your truth into all the earth. Raise up faithful servants of Christ to labor in the Gospel both at home and in distant lands.

  Hear us, good Lord.



In your mercy strengthen the younger churches and support them in times of trial. Make them steadfast, abounding in the work of the Lord, and let their faith and zeal for the Gospel refresh and renew the witness of your people everywhere.

  Hear us, good Lord.


Preserve our nation in justice and honor, that we may lead a peaceable life of integrity. Grant health and favor to all who bear office in our land, especially to Joseph Biden, the President of the United States; Thomas Wolf, the Governor of Pennsylvania, and all those who make, administer, and judge our laws, and help them to serve this people according to your holy will.

  Hear us, good Lord.


Take from us all hatred and prejudice, give us the spirit of love, and dispose our days in your peace. Prosper the labors of those who take counsel for the nations of the world, that mutual understanding and common endeavor may be increased among all peoples.

  Hear us, good Lord.


Bless the North American Lutheran Seminary, all schools of the Church, and all colleges, universities, and centers of research and those who teach in them. Bestow your wisdom in such measure that people may serve you in Church and state and that our common life may be conformed to the rule of your truth and justice.

  Hear us, good Lord.


Sanctify our homes with your presence and joy. Keep our children in the covenant of their baptism and enable their parents to rear them in a life of faith and devotion. By the spirit of affection and service unite the members of all families, that they may show your praise in our land and in all the world.

  Hear us, good Lord.


Let your blessing rest upon the seedtime and harvest, the commerce and industry, the leisure and rest, the arts and culture of our people. Take under your special protection those whose work is difficult or dangerous, and be with all who lay their hands to any useful task. Give them just rewards for their labor and the knowledge that their work is good in your sight.

  Hear us, good Lord.


Special supplications, intercessions, and thanksgivings may be made.


Comfort with the grace of your Holy Spirit all who are in sorrow or need, sickness or adversity. Remember those who suffer persecution for the faith. Have mercy on those to whom death draws near. Bring consolation to those in sorrow or mourning. And to all grant a measure of your love, taking them into your tender care.

  Hear us, good Lord.


We remember with thanksgiving those who have loved and served you in your Church on earth, who now rest from their labors. Keep us in fellowship with all your saints, and bring us at last to the joy of your heavenly kingdom.

  Hear us, good Lord.


All these things and whatever else you see that we need, grant us, Father, for the sake of him who died and rose again, and now lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God forever.



As our Savior has taught us, we are bold to say:

                Our Father, who 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 trespasses,

                                as we forgive those who trespass against us;

                and lead us not into temptation,

                                but deliver us from evil.

                For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory,

                                forever and ever. Amen



Jesus, Lord of time,

  hold us in your eternity.


Jesus, image of God,

  travel with us the life of faith.


Jesus, friend of sinners,

  heal the brokenness of our world.


Jesus, Lord of tomorrow,

  draw us into your future.


The Lord bless you and keep you;

the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;

the Lord look upon you with favor, and + give you peace.



XHYMN             O God, Our Help in Ages Past                  Green LBW 320        

 1      O God, our help in ages past,

        our hope for years to come,

        our shelter from the stormy blast,

        and our eternal home:


2      Under the shadow of your throne

        your saints have dwelt secure;

        sufficient is your arm alone,

        and our defense is sure.


3      Before the hills in order stood

        or earth received its frame,

        from everlasting you are God,

        to endless years the same.


4     A thousand ages in your sight

        are like an evening gone,

        short as the watch that ends the night

        before the rising sun.


5      Time, like an ever-rolling stream,

        soon bears us all away;

        we fly forgotten, as a dream

        dies at the op’ning day.


6      O God, our help in ages past,

        our hope for years to come,

        still be our guard while troubles last

        and our eternal home!


Go in peace. Serve the Lord.        

  Thanks be to God.



St Stephen Lutheran Church

55 Forsythe Road

Pittsburgh PA 15220

(412) 279-5868


Saturday Evening Worship – 6:30 pm

Sunday Morning Worship – 10:30 am