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The Speed of Light

Isaiah 60:1-6; Matthew 2:1-12
January 6, 2019, Epiphany Sunday
First Presbyterian Church, Sterling, IL

Today is the Feast of the Epiphany, the twelfth day of Christmas. Those of you who’ve been around this church a while know that I just love Epiphany, the celebration of the magi’s visit. Our first reading from the prophet Isaiah foresees a time when the promised glory of God will light up the world, and all people everywhere will come to that light, and will worship and praise God. Let’s listen for how God’s light shines in Isaiah 60:1-6:

Arise, shine; for your light has come,
and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.
For darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples;
but the LORD will arise upon you, and his glory will appear over you.
Nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.
Lift up your eyes and look around; they all gather together,
they come to you; your sons shall come from far away,
and your daughters shall be carried on…
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Us Lions

Isaiah 9:2-7; Luke 2: 1-20
December 24, 2018, Christmas Eve
First Presbyterian Church, Sterling IL
Christina Berry


Our first reading today is from the prophet Isaiah, words of comfort and light that have illuminated the lives of people for more than two thousand years. The prophet sought to bring God’s message to a suffering people, people who were living amid the ravages of war. The prophet recalls the day of Midian, in which the Israelites triumphed, not because of their superior skill and strategy, but thanks only to the power and might of God. The God who shines light in the darkness is the God of Israel, who will bring us into the light.

Isaiah 9:2-7
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light;
those who lived in a land of deep darkness— on them light has shined.
You have multiplied the nation, you have increased its joy;
they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest,
as people exult when dividing plunder.
For the yoke of their burden, and the bar a…

Aslan’s Roar

December 23, 2018
Isaiah 2:2–5; Philippians 2:5-11
First Presbyterian Church, Sterling IL
Christina Berry

Our first reading on this last Sunday in Advent is from the prophet Isaiah. It speaks of a time “in the days to come” when all nations will come to worship God and walk in God’s paths. This passage also contains the familiar language describing peace, when weapons of war are transformed into tools of agriculture, and people study war no more. Let’s listen for God’s word to us in Isaiah 2:2–5.

In days to come the mountain of the Lord’s house
shall be established as the highest of the mountains,
and shall be raised above the hills; all the nations shall stream to it.
Many peoples shall come and say,
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
to the house of the God of Jacob;
that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.”
For out of Zion shall go forth instruction,
and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
He shall judge between the nations,
an…

Purposeful Gifts

Ephesians 6:14-17; 1 Corinthians 12:4-10
December 16, 2018
First Presbyterian Church, Sterling IL
Christina Berry


In our first reading, the writer exhorts the individual members of the church to understand their gifts and their calling. When we hear the first scripture, we may imagine a Roman soldier, or a Marvel comics superhero. But the imagery, while it is military, is not violent. To the contrary, it is about wearing the gifts of truth, justice and peace. In Ephesians 5:9, we are reminded: “You were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord, so live your life as children of light. Light produces fruit that consists of every sort of goodness, justice, and truth. “ Let’s listen for God’s word to us in Ephesians 6:14-17

So stand with the belt of truth around your waist, justice as your breastplate, and put shoes on your feet so that you are ready to spread the good news of peace. Above all, carry the shield of faith so that you can extinguish the flaming arrows of the ev…

Hungry for Hope

Isaiah 55:1-2, John 6: 32-35
December 9, 2018
First Presbyterian Church, Sterling IL
Christina Berry

Again this Sunday, our first reading comes from the prophet Isaiah, in the section of the book that is often called “Second Isaiah,” since scholars have divided the 66 chapters into two or three volumes. Prior chapters, from First Isaiah, describe the suffering servant, and the troubles of Israel in exile in Babylon. Things seem hopeless. In this text, now, we hear a word of hope— God is accomplishing the unexpected. The briers and thorns have been turned to myrtle and cypress (55:13) and there is plenty to eat and drink – at no cost! Unlike the food and drink that leave people feeling hungry and thirsty, this food and drink truly satisfy the people. Let’s listen for God’s word of hope to us in Isaiah 55:1-2,

Ho, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters;
and you that have no money, come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.
Why do you spend your money f…

Lamppost in the Woods

Isaiah 9:2-5; John 1:1-9
December 2, 2018
First Presbyterian Church, Sterling IL
Christina Berry

Our first reading today is from the prophet Isaiah, words of comfort and light that have illuminated the lives of people for more than two thousand years. The prophet sought to bring God’s message to a suffering people, people who were living amid the ravages of war, in a kind of dark ages in which there seemed to be little hope. In these words, the prophet recalls the day of Midian, an historic battle in which the Israelites triumphed, not because of their superior skill and strategy, but thanks only to the power and might of God. For the battle of Midian, Gideon gathered 32,000 men. But God said that was too many, and that if they had an army that strong, the victory would be attributed to Gideon and the army, not God. So God winnowed them down to 300 soldiers, 300 men who were not the best, strongest, and most alert. And then God delivered the Midianites to the Israelites. The God who …

In the Kingdom

Christ the King Sunday, November 25, 2018
Revelation 1:4b-8; John 18:33-38
First Presbyterian Church, Sterling IL
Christina Berry

Our first reading this morning is from the first chapter of Revelation, a kind of introductory text that lets us know something about Jesus. As we hear this text, let’s keep in mind that the book of Revelation is not a terrifying prediction of the return of an angry Jesus. “Revelation is not a script for the end of the world!” It is, instead, a prophecy of the fall of earthly empire and the coming reign of God in a new heaven and a new earth. Let’s listen for God’s coming kingdom in Revelation 1:4b-8:

Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and freed us from our sins by his blood, and made us to be a kingdom, priests serving his God and Fathe…