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Showing posts from October, 2013

Humility: Mercy at the Margins

Luke 18: 9-14 October 27, 2013 First Presbyterian Church, Sterling, IL Christina Berry
We’re now well into our season of Stewardship, this being the third of six Sundays during which we are paying particular attention to our Christian commitment, with an emphasis on the words that emerge from our Scripture readings that reveal and signify our faith in Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh. Our first Sunday focused on gratitude as we heard the story of the one leper in ten, a Samaritan and a leper, thus doubly an outcast, who returned to thank Jesus for his healing, and was made whole by his faith. In this 18th chapter of Luke’s gospel, we are again listening as Jesus tells stories. He has told, as we heard last week, of a widow who was persistent in her pursuit of justice for her cause, and he talked about the need to be persistent in prayer, to pray always, and not lose heart. The one story wasn’t enough, however, and, typical of Luke’s attention to those on the margins, we have another…

Persistence: When You Pray, Move Your Feet

When You Pray, Move Your Feet Luke 18: 1-8 October 20, 2013 First Presbyterian Church, Sterling IL Christina Berry
If you were here last week, you’ll remember that we are in our season of Stewardship, and that our particular emphasis this year is on words – words that count, words that matter, words that describe Christian commitment. We began last week with gratitude, and we continue this week with persistence. That word comes from the gospel story in Luke.
We’re well into the gospel of Luke with these stories, and Jesus has set his face toward Jerusalem. He’ll be stopping through Jericho on the way, and en route, he is teaching, healing and telling stories. He has been telling his disciples about the kingdom of God, that kingdom which is coming and is already here. Now he has begun to compare those who are rich with those who are poor. Luke’s gospel pays particular attention to the people who are on the bottom – those who are without status, without means, without power. So through the l…

Gratitude: A Word of Thanks

Luke 17:11-19 October 13, 2013 First Presbyterian Church, Sterling IL Christina Berry
This Sunday, we begin our season of Stewardship. I’m always a little ambivalent about that term, “Stewardship Season,” because it somehow implies that stewardship is something we only pay attention to during the fall, something that needs to be taken care of before Advent and Christmas. That makes it seem that Stewardship, in spite of our protests to the contrary, is really only about the church’s annual pledge drive. And let’s be honest – we choose this time of year for the annual pledge drive, because it is important that we have that work done before Christmas. But Stewardship, as you well know, is about far more than Pledge Commitment Sunday, and about far more than simply money. Stewardship concerns all of life – how we use all of our resources – not just money, but time and talent, and how we as human beings care for the resources we have in our shared life community, nature, the oceans, air, water…

One Lord, One Faith, One Table (Table Manners)

One Lord, One Faith, One Table 1 Corinthians 10: 16-17, 27-31 October 6, 2013, World Communion Sunday First Presbyterian Church, Sterling, IL Christina Berry
16 The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a sharing in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a sharing in the body of Christ? 17 Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. 27 If an unbeliever invites you to a meal and you are disposed to go, eat whatever is set before you without raising any question on the ground of conscience.  28 But if someone says to you, "This has been offered in sacrifice," then do not eat it, out of consideration for the one who informed you, and for the sake of conscience—  29 I mean the other's conscience, not your own. For why should my liberty be subject to the judgment of someone else's conscience?  30 If I partake with thankfulness, why should I be denounced because of that for which I give thanks?  31 So, whether yo…