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Showing posts from 2014

Soul Support

Luke 2:22-40 December 28, 2014 First Presbyterian Church, Sterling IL Christina Berry

Luke 2:22-40

The Gospel of Luke is structured as a biography of Jesus and follows the literary conventions of the time. As you might expect then, after the prologue, we have the birth narrative, which you heard on Christmas Eve, then the stories of infancy and childhood, which foreshadow the life of Jesus as an adult. Aside from Matthew’s account of the visitation of the Magi and the slaughter of the innocents, Luke’s gospel is the only one that includes any stories of Jesus from his infancy and childhood. Listen for God’s word to you in the second chapter of the Gospel of Luke, verse 22-40.

When the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23(as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male shall be designated as holy to the Lord”), 24 and they offered a sacrifice according to what is stated in the law of …

The Surprise of Love

Ruth 4; Luke 2: 8-16 December 21, 2014, Fourth Sunday of Advent First Presbyterian Church, Sterling IL Christina Berry
Ruth 4
1 Meanwhile, Boaz went up to the gate and sat down there. Just then, the redeemer about whom Boaz had spoken was passing by. He said, "Sir, come over here and sit down." So he turned aside and sat down. 2 Then he took ten men from the town's elders and said, "Sit down here." And they sat down. 3 Boaz said to the redeemer, "Naomi, who has returned from the field of Moab, is selling the portion of the field that belonged to our brother Elimelech. 4 I thought that I should let you know and say, ‘Buy it, in the presence of those sitting here and in the presence of the elders of my people.' If you will redeem it, redeem it; but if you won't redeem it, tell me so that I may know. There isn't anyone to redeem it except you, and I'm next in line after you." He replied, "I will redeem it." 5 Then Boaz said, &q…

Peace, Plain and Simple

Ruth 2, Matthew 1:18-25 December 7, 2014, Second Sunday of Advent First Presbyterian Church, Sterling IL Christina Berry Ruth Meets Boaz

2 Now Naomi had a kinsman on her husband’s side, a prominent rich man, of the family of Elimelech, whose name was Boaz. 2 And Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, “Let me go to the field and glean among the ears of grain, behind someone in whose sight I may find favor.” She said to her, “Go, my daughter.”3 So she went. She came and gleaned in the field behind the reapers. As it happened, she came to the part of the field belonging to Boaz, who was of the family of Elimelech. 4 Just then Boaz came from Bethlehem. He said to the reapers, “The Lord be with you.” They answered, “The Lord bless you.” 5 Then Boaz said to his servant who was in charge of the reapers, “To whom does this young woman belong?” 6 The servant who was in charge of the reapers answered, “She is the Moabite who came back with Naomi from the country of Moab. 7 She said, ‘Please, let me gl…

Something to Look Forward To

Luke 1:5-25; Ruth 1 November 30. 2104 First Presbyterian Church, Sterling IL Christina Berry

Ruth, Chaper 1

During the days when the judges ruled, there was a famine in the land. A man with his wife and two sons went from Bethlehem of Judah to dwell in the territory of Moab. The name of that man was Elimelech, the name of his wife was Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem in Judah. They entered the territory of Moab and settled there. But Elimelech, Naomi's husband, died. Then only she was left, along with her two sons. They took wives for themselves, Moabite women; the name of the first was Orpah and the name of the second was Ruth. And they lived there for about ten years.

But both of the sons, Mahlon and Chilion, also died. Only the woman was left, without her two children and without her husband. Then she arose along with her daughters-in-law to return from the field of Moab, because while in the territory of Moab s…

This Generation

1 Timothy 6: 17-19 November 23, 2014 First Presbyterian Church, Sterling IL Christina Berry
As we complete our stewardship season this year, and prepare to dedicate our pledges, the selected Scripture reading is pretty short. It comes from the book of 1st Timothy, a letter to the church that was presumed to have been written by Paul, but was probably actually from a later writer. First and Second Timothy and Titus are often neglected books, in part for the directives about women which, taken in a modern context, are restrictive and oppressive. But the books were written to help churches order their lives. These books are source material for much of the way churches now organize and govern themselves. So this brief directive near the end of 1st Timothy comes in a larger context, a set of instructions about how to be church in this generation.

Let’s listen for God’s word to us today from 1 Timothy 6:17-19

As for those who in the present age are rich, command them not to be haughty, or …

Unfair Justice

Matthew 20:1-16 November 16, 2014 First Presbyterian Church, Sterling IL Christina Berry
Matthew 20: 1-16

1 "For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. 2 After agreeing with the laborers for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard. 3 When he went out about nine o'clock, he saw others standing idle in the marketplace; 4 and he said to them, "You also go into the vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.' So they went. 5 When he went out again about noon and about three o'clock, he did the same. 6 And about five o'clock he went out and found others standing around; and he said to them, "Why are you standing here idle all day?' 7 They said to him, "Because no one has hired us.' He said to them, "You also go into the vineyard.' 8 When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, "Call the laborers and give them their pay, beg…

Small Change

Mark 12:38-44 November 9, 2014 First Presbyterian Church, Sterling, IL Christina Berry
This third Sunday of our Stewardship Season, we continue to explore the Generations of Generosity in our faith history. Last week, we were in the Old Testament, as the widow of Zarephath shared the last of her meal and oil with the prophet Elijah, and through God’s provision, she did not run out. We saw how what we bring, though it be only a little, can be made into plenty by God’s mighty power.

This week, we hear about yet another widow who gives her all. But this is a different widow, in a different context and a different generation. Jesus has come to Jerusalem for the last time, riding into town on the back of a donkey to shouts of “hosanna!” And before long he will be arrested and executed. He has been challenging the leaders with his actions and his words. Just before this widow comes to give her offering, Jesus says:

"Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and to…