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Showing posts from September, 2014

Living Letters from Paul: A series on the Epistles, week 3

The Right Answer Really IS Jesus! Colossians 3: 12-17 September 28, 2014 First Presbyterian Church, Sterling IL Christina Berry
Dear Sisters and Brothers of the 21st century American church, Greetings from Colossae!

We are the recipients of one of the Apostle Paul’s shorter letters. And we need to say, it isn’t even exactly clear whether Paul himself or one of his students wrote this letter to us. But Paul knew about us, and he knew many of us by name, as personal friends. Colossae was the home of Philemon, who was the one addressed in Paul’s very short letter by the same name. Our congregation was in a diverse medium sized city in what is now the country of Turkey. We were an established Christian community, but we had been led astray by some false teachings.

You see, all around us, in our city, were those who followed other beliefs. Some worshiped angels. Some worshiped the stars, practicing astrology and counting the stars themselves as deities. Others called themselves Christian, bu…

Living Letters from Paul: A Series on the Epistles, week 2

Invisible Strength 2 Corinthians 4: 7-18 September 21, 2014 First Presbyterian Church, Sterling IL Christina Berry
Dear Sisters and Brothers of the 21st century American church, Greetings from Corinth!

As you can tell from your Bible, the Apostle Paul wrote to us in Corinth more than once. Since he founded our congregation, he had a close but difficult relationship with us. You can see from the map that Corinth is a major city between Athens and Sparta, on the Isthmus of Corinth. Our city was a large and bustling place, with ports on both the east and the west. We were a city of wealth and luxury, known for our temple to Aphrodite, and for our contribution to classical architecture called “Corinthian order.”

Romans, Greeks, and Jews lived in this populous city. When the Apostle Paul came to Corinth, in about 51 AD, he stayed for a year and a half, founding our churches and teaching us about the Lord Jesus Christ. After he wrote this letter, the one you call “The Second Epistle to the …

Living Letters from Paul: A Series on the Epistles

Walking in Love Romans 14:1-18 September 14, 2014 First Presbyterian Church, Sterling IL Christina Berry


Dear Sisters and Brothers of the 21st century American church,

Greetings from Rome!

We are happy to share with you this portion of a letter from the Apostle Paul. He wrote to us often, back then. Our congregation is really a collection of small house churches, like-minded followers of the way of Jesus who gather in private homes on the first day of the week to pray, sing, and eat.

Paul, as you know, was a missionary, who traveled around and founded quite a few churches in the area. He had not even visited us, when he wrote this letter. But he wrote to us to help us as we tried to figure out how to live Christ’s teaching in a diverse urban congregation. Some of us were Jews, others were Gentiles. Each of us came into the Christian community with our own cultures, backgrounds, beliefs and biases. Some of us don’t eat meat, others do. Some of us observe particular holy days, others do…