Skip to main content


Showing posts from August, 2014

Five Simple Sabbath Practices

Genesis 2: 1-3 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all their multitude. And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that he had done in creation.

Practice – Remembering Sabbath
To begin remembering Sabbath, I invite you into a simple exercise that may help you today to remember the Sabbath, and to be more deeply in touch with God in prayer, in practice, and in daily living. Leave your eyes open and breathe normally. As you breathe in, I will say, “remember the Sabbath” and as you breathe out, I will say, “and keep it holy.” You may want to repeat these words silently with me.

This is a practice of Sabbath rest, taking ten deep breaths, letting thoughts come and go. For the next ten breaths, your task is to focus all your attention on your breathing. If you have trouble just letting thou…

Jesus Slept

Mark 4:35-41 August 24, 2014 First Presbyterian Church, Sterling, IL Christina Berry
As our reading begins, the disciples and the crowds have just heard Jesus' parables of the kingdom. He has told them a parable of a sower planting seeds, and a parable about how the tiny mustard seed grows into a huge plant. The crowds who have come to see him are so large that Jesus has climbed into a boat, using it as his platform and his pulpit. Now it is evening on that day, and he says to his disciples, "Let us go across to the other side."

This act of crossing the water is emblematic of other crossings. As they are crossing the Sea of Galilee, they are also crossing over into Gentile territory, crossing boundaries. There, they they will be met immediately by a man possessed by a legion of demons rushing at them from the tombs. The next crossing in chapter five will take them into encounters with the silent desperation of a hemorrhaging woman and the chaotic grief of a household in…

Beautiful Body

Genesis 1:26- 27 August 17, 2014 First Presbyterian Church, Sterling, IL Christina Berry
I wonder if it has occurred to you how very countercultural this emphasis on Sabbath is!

One of the books I’ve been reading in preparation for these sermons is the book “Sabbath as Resistance” by Walter Brueggemann. Brueggemann’s premise is that observing Sabbath is saying no to the cultural pressure that traps and enslaves so many of us. He discusses, in one section, how the commandment to keep the day holy and to provide rest not only for self but also for servants, slaves, and beasts is essentially a statement of equality – when all are equally at rest. Brueggemann says,

“Not all are equal in production…
Not all are equal in consumption…
In a society defined by production and consumption, there are huge gradations of performance, and therefore, of worth and significance.”[1] But, Brueggemann says, on the Sabbath, we are made equal. As created beings, in the eyes of God, we have been made as equals,…

God’s Garden

Genesis 2; Psalm 8
August 10, 2014
First Presbyterian Church, Sterling IL
Christina Berry

This is the second in our series of Sundays in our Sabbath month, in which we are focusing on simple practices to remember the Sabbath. In our worship, various people are sharing their reflections, we are engaging in some experiential spiritual practices, and our music has been selected from the requested songs turned in last month by those who worship with us. Songs selected for this Sunday include “Morning Has Broken,” “In the Garden,” and “How Great Thou Art.” Sabbath practices are adapted from various resources.

Sabbath Practice: Recreation

Sabbath walk: for 30 minutes, walk slowly and silently, preferably outside in nature. If you are drawn to a leaf, a color, a stone, the fragrance of grass, the feel of the breeze or the sounds of birds or children at play, pause, take it in. Do not hurry. There is no place to go, and there is no goal. Simply take in whatever is around you. At the end of …

Daily Blessings

Mark 1:35 Matthew 14:13-21 August 3, 2014 First Presbyterian Church, Sterling IL Christina Berry
As we enter into this Sabbath month, a time of rest and renewal, it is appropriate to begin with a focus on prayer. This morning as we reflect on Scripture and come to the Lord’s Table, we’ll attend to prayer, in its many forms, and particularly to prayers as blessings. In these two readings, one just a short verse, the other a familiar story, we have two demonstrations of prayer.

You’ll recall perhaps that the gospel of Mark, the first written but second in the canon, jumps right into the life of Jesus, starting with his baptism. No manger, no shepherds, just the adult Jesus going straight to the river Jordan to be baptized by his cousin John, the Baptizer, a wild-eyed evangelist who has been proclaiming the imminent coming of the Messiah.

So in this first chapter of Mark, Jesus goes down to the river, is baptized, goes through forty days of temptation in the wilderness, calls the di…