First Sunday in Lent
February 21, 2021

First Presbyterian Church, Fargo
The Session and members of First Presbyterian Church, extend a sincere welcome to you! We welcome all persons regardless of race, nationality, disability, gender, or sexual orientation. This includes an open invitation to membership, the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper, marriage, funerals, memorial services, and to serve as an officer of the church.

Prelude and Preparation for Worship

Prayer of the Day
Loving God, you have made covenant with us and with every living creature. We give thanks for the sign of the rainbow, for it reminds you and us of your promise: that the flood of destruction will not be the last word. We thank you, too, for the waters of baptism, the sign that we are raised as children of the covenant; through Jesus Christ our Lord. And we thank you for the sign of the dove, the promise of your Holy Spirit. Hovering over the dawn of creation, descending upon your beloved Son, your Spirit also hovers over and descends upon us. With the whole creation, we give you all glory and honor.
In your triune name we pray. Amen.

Gathering in Christ’s Presence

Welcome and Concerns of the Church
Opening Sentences 
From water to wilderness:
God’s covenant continues;
God’s kingdom comes near.

On stone and in hearts:
God’s covenant continues;
God’s kingdom comes near.

From the ancestor of nations to the Son lifted up:
God’s covenant continues;
God’s kingdom comes near.

We follow Jesus on the Lenten path,
for where he is, we would be also.
Let us worship God!
Hymn — God of the Sparrow
Accompanist: Dillon Swanson
1 God of the sparrow
God of the whale
God of the swirling stars
How does the creature say Awe
How does the creature say Praise

2 God of the earthquake
God of the storm
God of the trumpet blast
How does the creature cry Woe
How does the creature cry Save

3 God of the rainbow
God of the cross
God of the empty grave
How does the creature say Grace
How does the creature say Thanks

4 God of the hungry
God of the sick
God of the prodigal
How does the creature say Care
How does the creature say Life

5 God of the neighbor
God of the foe
God of the pruning hook
How does the creature say Love
How does the creature say Peace

6 God of the ages
God near at hand
God of the loving heart
How do your children say Joy
How do your children say Home
Call to Confession
God’s bow has been hung in the clouds—a unilateral disarmament in spite of our sin. God remains faithful to the covenant of steadfast love, even when we are unfaithful. Without fear, then, we confess our sins.

Prayer of Confession
God of mercy, we begin this Lenten season in confession.
We do not live according to your ways, but according to our own. We condone violence, participate in systems of injustice, and use power to our own advantage at the expense of others. Forgive us, we pray, when we are tempted to follow paths  other than those you set before us. Teach us your commandments; help us to turn from evil in its many guises,  and turn us toward your kingdom drawing near. In covenantal love, remember us, we pray, and be for us, once more and always, an ark of safety and new life. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.

Assurance of God’s Forgiveness

Hearing God’s Word

Children's Message
Create in me a clean heart, O God. 
And renew a right spirit in me, 
Cast me not away from thy presence, 
and take not thy holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of thy salvation. 
And uphold me with thy free spirit.
Create in me, O God.
Prayer for Illumination
Lesson  Genesis 9:8-17
Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, ‘As for me, I am establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you, and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the domestic animals, and every animal of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark. I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.’ God said, ‘This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: I have set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.’ God said to Noah, ‘This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.’

Lesson  Mark 1:9-15
In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.’
And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness for forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.
Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.’

Sermon                The One Who Remembers
Hymn — Wild and Lone the Prophet's Voice
1 Wild and lone the prophet's voice
echoes through the desert still,
calling us to make a choice,
bidding us to do God's will:
"Turn from sin and be baptized;
cleanse your heart and mind and soul.
Quitting all the sins you prized,
yield your life to God's control.

2 "Bear the fruit repentance sows:
lives of justice, truth and love.
Trust no other claim than those;
set your heart on things above.
Soon the Lord will come in power,
burning clean the threshing floor:
then will flames the chaff devour;
wheat alone shall fill God's store."

3 With such preaching, stark and bold,
John proclaimed salvation near,
and his timeless warnings hold
words of hope to all who hear.
So we dare to journey on,
led by faith through ways untrod,
till we come at last like John
to behold the Lamb of God.

Responding to God’s Word

Prayers of the People and the Lord's Prayer
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 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.

Call for the Offering, ending with the Prayer of Dedication

Bearing the Word into the World

Hymn — All Who Love and Serve Your City
1 All who love and serve your city,
all who bear its daily stress,
all who cry for peace and justice,
all who curse and all who bless:

2 In your day of wealth and plenty,
wasted work and wasted play,
call to mind the word of Jesus,
"You must work while it is day."

3 For all days are days of judgment,
and the Lord is waiting still,
drawing near a world that spurns him,
offering peace from Calvary's hill.

4 Risen Lord, shall yet the city
be the city of despair?
Come today, our judge, our glory.
Be its name “The Lord is there!"

Charge and Benediction
Join us for Zoom Coffee Hour on Sunday at 11:30 am! Click here for the information.