1st Sunday in Lent (Year C)

Call to Worship

The season of Lent is the faithful journey to salvation - 
salvation that will be found beyond the cross, in an empty tomb.
We remember that God has already saved us - 
that God brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand
     
and brought us, in safety, to the other side of the sea.

We recognize that God is saving us now - 
that God sends us into the wilderness of Lent
filled with the Spirit to gather and to guide.

We celebrate that God will save us - 
that God will give us signs and wonders
     
to inspire and encourage us along the way.

Come, let us begin this journey of Lent;
let us follow Christ to the cross.

Prayer of the Day

Sheltering God,
through your Spirit,
you drove your son, Jesus Christ,
into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan.
Yet, even there he was sheltered by your word.
As you were to him in those trials and tribulations,
be our refuge and our fortress as we begin this Lenten journey.
This we pray in your good and holy name.  Amen.

Call to Confession

Let us confess our sins before our merciful God
and beg for God's pardon on this Lenten journey.

Confession

Merciful God,
like your Son, we are tempted on a daily basis
by that which seeks to tear us from you and from one another.
When Jesus was tempted by Satan, 
he turned to scripture for wisdom and strength,
trusting in your goodness and your grace to uphold him.
When we are seduced by the same temptations,
we often do not bother to look to the scriptures;
instead, we do not hold ourselves accountable
to the righteousness to which you call us.
Help us to be strengthened by Christ's strength.
Lead us to be instructed by his wisdom, and encouraged by his trust.
Forgive us our sins and lead us to a better relationship with you and with one another.
This we pray in your holy and merciful name.  Amen.

Assurance of Pardon

Friends, by the grace of God,
you and I have been forgiven of our sins
and invited to a renewed life with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! Amen!

Prayer for Illumination

Saving Spirit,
as you gathered us in the wilderness
and led us to a land flowing with milk and honey,
gather us before your Word
and lead us into your wisdom
that we might be equipped to follow your Son
on this Lenten path.  Amen.

Prayers of the People

Sheltering God,
you are our refuge and our fortress;
in you we place our trust and our very being.
Since before time's dawning,
you have created us and crafted us with a purpose - 
to join you in your jubilant act of life and love,
to plant seeds of righteousness and justice,
to care for and nurture the earth and her creatures,
to dance and join creation's everlasting song of praise.
We have eternally resided in the presence of your protection
and enjoyed the fruits of your providence.
How wonderful it is that you call us your children!
How undeserving are we of this grace-filled gift!

We give you thanks for your Son, Jesus Christ - 
the fruition of your love song for us, your children.
Creation sings the praise of her savior, our redeemer;
for Jesus Christ leads us on this Lenten path,
and calls us to a journey of repentance and trust.
Long is the path to the cross
and long our journey with Christ before us.
Send your Spirit to surround us with your protection
as we delve into the darkness of Lent.
The shadows of temptation follow us closely,
seeking to distract us from our truest selves - 
the selves we find in your righteousness and peace.
May we be strengthened by Christ's struggle with temptation
and uplifted by his story of trial and tribulation with Satan.
We thank you for the stories of scripture
which remind us that Jesus Christ stands in solidarity with us
in our joys, in our struggles, in our plenty, and in our want.

We pray this day especially for those who struggle with temptations - 
temptations of the flesh...
temptation of the mind...
temptations of addiction and substance abuse...
temptations of wealth and oppression...
temptations of self-righteousness and selfishness...
temptations of nostalgia and fear...

On this Lenten journey, Christ stands in solidarity with us.
Because of this gracious act, we remember this day
that we are called to stand in solidarity with those in need among us...
We pray this day for those who are cold during these winter months;
that they may be warmed and sheltered and fed.
We pray this day for those who have recently been hospitalized;
that they may be healed and returned to their homes.
We pray this day for those who are in the depths of alcoholism;
that they may be freed of their addiction and led to recovery.
We pray this day for those who suffer from seasonal depression disorder;
that they may find hope within the darkness.
We pray this day for those whom we lift up to you in silence or out loud...

Good and gracious God,
as we begin yet another Lenten journey,
we ask for courage to follow your Son,
and wisdom to walk the way.
Gather us, shelter us, protect us
as we are led to the cross.  Amen.

Comment

Stephen Fearing

Stephen was born in 1988 in Cookeville, TN, where his parents met whilst attending Tennessee Tech. Shortly after, they moved to Dalton, Georgia where they put down roots and joined First Presbyterian Church, the faith family that taught Stephen that he was first and foremost a beloved child of God. It was this community that taught Stephen that it was OK to have questions and doubts and that nothing he could do could every possibly separate him from the love of God. In 1995, his sister, Sarah Kate, joined the family and Stephen began his journey as a life-long musician. Since then, he has found a love of music and has found this gift particularly fitting for his call to ministry. Among the instruments that he enjoys are piano, trumpet, guitar, and handbells. Stephen has always had a love of singing and congregation song. An avid member of the marching band, Stephen was the drum major of his high school's marching band. In 2006, Stephen began his tenure at Presbyterian College in Clinton, SC where he majored in Religion and minored in History. While attending PC, Stephen continued to explore his love of music by participating in the Wind Ensemble, Jazz Band, Jazz Combo, Jazz Trio, as well as playing in the PC Handbell ensemble and playing mandolin and banjo PC's very own bluegrass/rock group, Hosegrass, of which Stephen was a founding member (Hosegrass even released their own CD!). In 2010, Stephen moved from Clinton to Atlanta to attend Columbia Theological Seminary to pursue God's call on his life to be a pastor in the PC(USA). During this time, Stephen worked at Trinity Presbyterian Church, Silver Creek Presbyterian Church, Central Presbyterian Church, and Westminster Presbyterian Church. For three years, Stephen served as the Choir Director of Columbia Theological Seminary's choir and also served as the Interim Music Director at Westminster Presbyterian Church. In 2014, Stephen graduated from Columbia with a Masters of Divinity and a Masters of Arts in Practical Theology with an emphasis in liturgy, music, and worship. In July of 2014, Stephen was installed an ordained as Teaching Elder at Shelter Island Presbyterian Church in Shelter Island, NY. Later that year, Stephen married the love of his life, Tricia, and they share their home on Shelter Island with their Golden Doodle, Elsie, and their calico cat, Audrey. In addition to his work with the people who are Shelter Island Presbyterian Church, Stephen currently serves as a commission from Long Island Presbytery to the Synod of the Northeast and, beginning in January of 2016, will moderate the Synod's missions team.