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Showing posts from March, 2014

Sensing the Glory of God: The Scent of Love

Matthew 26: 1-13 March 30, 2014 First Presbyterian Church, Sterling IL Christina Berry
This is the fourth Sunday in our Lenten series, “Sensing the Glory of God.” This week we focus on the sense of smell. It was perhaps the sense that was easiest to think of a text for, because this story came to mind immediately. But it took a while to think through how to talk about smell, a very powerful sense.
Our sense of smell is so critical to our functioning – to taste, to memory, even to our ability to discern when there is danger. But there are also smells that we laugh and joke about – unpleasant smells, usually. And we didn’t want to find ourselves inviting all of you to start thinking about how Jesus smelled, or smells!
I don’t know about you, but when we start talking about smell, I think of  pleasant aromas like bread baking, or flowers, or English lavender soap. But I also think about Pepe le Peux, the cartoon skunk, and spoiled milk, and diaper pails. So, now that we maybe have sku…

Sensing the Glory of God: Mended Vessels

Matthew 9:18-30a March 23, 2014 First Presbyterian Church, Sterling IL Christina Berry
As we enter this third week of Lent we continue our series, “Sensing the Glory of God.” We’ve been looking at stories in the gospel of Matthew through the lens of our five senses. I hope you’ll take a few minutes today to look at the display in the narthex of  the items people have shared that reflect God’s glory, that demonstrate hope, abundance and courage.
This week, our sensory focus is on touch – specifically, the touch of Jesus. Our scripture reading calls our attention to three different healing stories of Jesus from the 9th chapter of Matthew, verses 18-30. Let’s open ourselves to the healing touch of Jesus as we listen to these stories:
18 While he was saying these things to them, suddenly a leader of the synagogue came in and knelt before him, saying, "My daughter has just died; but come and lay your hand on her, and she will live." 19 And Jesus got up and followed him, with his …

Sensing the Glory of God: Look Here! 6:22-34

March 16, 2014 First Presbyterian Church, Sterling, IL Christina Berry
Jesus: The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light; but if your eye is unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!  No one can serve two masters; You: Why not? Jesus: Because a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You: I don't know if I agree with that or not. It seems overstated. Jesus: Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. You: Seriously? Isn't your advice a little na├»ve? I do need to plan ahead and know where my next meal is coming from and make sure my family is clothed. Jesus: "Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?" You: Yes, when you put …

Sensing the Glory of God: The Sound of Glory

Today's Lenten focus is on hearing:

Matthew 8:18-34 March 9. 2014 First Presbyterian Church, Sterling, IL Christina Berry
As you probably have discovered by now, our Lenten theme for this year is “Sensing the Glory of God.” Rather than deny our senses, as so often the season of fasting might imply, we are celebrating this Lent how our five senses draw us closer to God, in moments of daylight and darkness. To that end, we’ll be focusing our attention, through our five senses, on stories from the gospel of Matthew. We are starting with the sense of hearing, and we’ve chosen this episode that is full of sounds, sounds of all sorts. Normally, we have the scripture reading up on the screen, and many of us read and follow along as the scripture is read. This week, I invite you to close your eyes and simply listen carefully. Listen especially for what sounds you hear—voices, noises, all types of sounds. Listen! for God’s word to us today in Matthew 8: 18-34:            
Now when Jesus s…

Mountain and Valley

Matthew 17:1-9, Psalm 23 March 2, 2014 First Presbyterian Church, Sterling, IL Christina Berry
A mountain top experience. Christians love that phrase. We like to use it to describe a moment or an hour, a time in which we felt amazed, transfixed, transformed. If we were mystics, we would describe it as ecstasy – spiritual ecstasy. I expect that is what Peter and James and John knew in that moment: ecstasy, unspeakable joy, ineffable feelings that welled up in their hearts and filled them and surrounded them and made everything brighter and clearer and larger than life.
The theological term is theophany – an appearance of God! If that word reminds you of the word epiphany, you are onto something. Epiphany, the season that is just ending as we move toward Lent, is a sudden, striking manifestation – a realization. In fact, Epiphany as it is celebrated in the Western church is actually called Theophany in the Eastern church. It is “the revelation of God the son as a human being in Jesus Christ…