LAST DAY OF THE YEAR

EVENING.

We kneel together, O great God, for the last time in the year, which has now reached its close. May our last united cry be our best—the most glowing in fervor—the most abased in humility—-the most fragrant in the reconciling blood—the most hallowed by the interceding Spirit.

We look to ourselves—and we turn to You. Our earthly days roll rapidly away. Our moments vanish while we grasp them. But You change not. Time is not time to You. From everlasting to everlasting Your name is, “I am that I am.” Glorious Jehovah, we are astounded at Your unspeakable greatness. We marvel more at Your surpassing goodness. Trusting in Your superabounding grace, we thus draw near.

It befit us at the end of each day, to bring the tribute of thanksgiving for our daily mercies. What shall we render for all the mercies of all the days of the year now fled? Oh that we could gather all into one mass, and meet them with deserving praise! But we cannot count the ocean’s sands. How, then, can we calculate Your mercies, which in number are far more! Our thanks are worthless for the least of all Your favors. What are they when weighed against the wondrous whole! We know but a part—but that part surpasses praise. But we ardently desire that the concluding year should bear witness that we bring adorations with overflowing hearts.

For all Your personal mercies—for the measure of health with which we have been favored—for the preservation of our frames from fatal sickness and from evil accident—for the comforts of a sheltering roof—for the sufficiency of food and clothing—for the continuance of mental and bodily power—Good Lord accept the praises of our inmost souls!

For Your goodness to us as a family—for mutual support and help—for the sweet delights of domestic harmony and peace—for seats now filled which might have been a vacant blank—Good Lord accept the praises of our inmost souls!

For Your distinguishing favors to us as a nation—for the peace which smiles upon our borders—for the plenty of our fields—for the absence of wasting sickness and destroying plagues—for the protection of right laws—for the Bible open to our use—for the continued light and liberty of our glorious Reformation—Good Lord accept the praises of our inmost souls! Enriched with all these blessings, and with countless more, we close this year. We know our privileges. We feel them. We bless Your holy name!

But other thoughts oppress us. We blush to lift up our eyes unto You, O God of all grace and love. Shame and confusion of face humble us to the very dust. Wherever You have been boundless in mercy—we have been abundant in sin. We cannot measure our ingratitude. We cannot estimate our vileness. We cannot in thought reach to the extent of our transgressions throughout this traversed year.

Each day has added to our guilt. Each scene has witnessed our straying feet and our offending tongues. What is there in heaven or in earth, above, around, without, within—which condemns us not? The sun condemns us, which has seen our misdeeds; the darkness, too, which hides nothing from You. The cruel accuser justly accuses. How often have Your good angels been provoked to leave us! Your righteous law, Your holy Word, our sin-soiled consciences, our public and our private hours, our neighbors and ourselves—write dark things against us. We make no denial. We frame no excuse. We confess, Father, we have sinned throughout this year against heaven and before You—and are no more worthy to be called Your sons.

But still we live! We live to fly as contrite penitents to Your extended arms! We know that You will not cast us off—for Jesus brings us near. You will not condemn us—for Your dear Son died in our place. You will not mark the mountains upon mountains of our sins—for the Savior has removed them all. His precious blood has washed out every crimson stain! His beauteous righteousness, covers all our deformities!

O God, our God, we bid farewell, then, to this year, clinging to His cross, sheltered by His side, hidden in His wounds, cleansed in His blood, covered by His spotless robe, beautified in His salvation. Thus we conclude our last united prayer, blessing You for Jesus Christ. All honor, and glory, and might, and majesty, and dominion, be unto You, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the God of our salvation, now, henceforth, and ever. Amen.