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Showing posts from June, 2014

Cold Water

Matthew 10: 40-42 June 29, 2014 First Presbyterian Church, Sterling IL Christina Berry
If you read the sermon last week, you may remember the scripture reading was also from the tenth chapter of Matthew. It was a part of Jesus’ speech as he sent the disciples out. He told them they were to take no extra clothes, no money, nothing. They were to go out to bring the good news to the lost sheep. But they couldn’t even take an overnight bag or a traveler’s check. Then he warned them about the dangers and difficulties of their mission.

They risked rejection, persecution, even death. Jesus assured them that God’s presence was with them. And he told them not to be afraid –remember those three-word sermons? It ain’t easy; don’t be afraid; you are loved. Now Matthew concludes this section with some words about welcome:

40“Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. 41Whoever welcomes a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet’s…

Obvious Answers

Matthew 10:24-39 June 22, 2014 First Presbyterian Church, Sterling IL Christina Berry

In our scripture reading today we return to the gospel of Matthew. Jesus has commissioned the disciples and is sending them out to proclaim the kingdom, to heal the sick, to share the good news of God’s love. He has told them to go out, taking nothing – no money, no luggage, no extra tunics. He said, “Whatever town or village you enter, find out who in it is worthy, and stay there until you leave. As you enter the house, greet it. If the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it; but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet as you leave that house or town.” But Jesus wants them to be aware of the full scope of their commission, of the possibility of rejection, of persecution, even of death. This scripture is intended for us, as contemporary disciples, but it is important to be aware that our expe…

Creative Rest

Genesis 1:1-2:2a June 15, 2014 First Presbyterian Sterling, IL Christina Berry
The scripture we are about to read has become one of the standards for those who take the Bible literally and insist on what is now called “creationism” Since we do not read the Bible literally, we may sometimes feel at a loss as to how to answer someone who seems so knowledgeable and vehement about the meaning of this story at the very beginning of the Bible.

As we listen to this scripture, it may be helpful to think about it in terms of God’s overall intention for humankind – in other words, since this is obviously NOT a science textbook, what are we as believing people to believe about his story? Hebrew professor Jeffrey Tigay gives a thoughtful explanation of this scripture, some of which I will quote for you.

“…it is clear from the Bible as a whole that its compilers were not overly concerned with the details of the creation story in the first chapter of Genesis. They incorporated several accounts of cre…

One Hundred and Sixty Eight Hours

John 17:1-11 June 1, 2014 First Presbyterian Church, Sterling IL Christina Berry
Have you ever asked someone to offer a prayer, and have them begin by praying for you? That happens to me on occasion, and when it does, I’m always profoundly affected by it. Just knowing that someone is praying for me is great, but listening as someone offers their prayers out loud is even more moving. Jesus, in this 17th chapter of the Gospel of John, is not away somewhere in a garden praying silently. He is sitting at the supper table with his disciples, on that night before he was arrested. And he offers this prayer in their presence, and on their behalf.

Let’s listen as Jesus prays for his disciples – prays for us – in John 17: 1-11 :
After Jesus had spoken these words, he looked up to heaven and said,
“Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is etern…