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Showing posts from October, 2014

Heaps and Plenty

2 Chronicles 31: 4-12 October 26, 2014 First Presbyterian Church, Sterling, IL Christina Berry
4 He commanded the people who lived in Jerusalem to give the portion due to the priests and the Levites, so that they might devote themselves to the law of the Lord. 5 As soon as the word spread, the people of Israel gave in abundance the first fruits of grain, wine, oil, honey, and of all the produce of the field; and they brought in abundantly the tithe of everything. 6 The people of Israel and Judah who lived in the cities of Judah also brought in the tithe of cattle and sheep, and the tithe of the dedicated things that had been consecrated to the Lord their God, and laid them in heaps. 7 In the third month they began to pile up the heaps, and finished them in the seventh month. 8 When Hezekiah and the officials came and saw the heaps, they blessed the Lord and his people Israel. 9 Hezekiah questioned the priests and the Levites about the heaps. 10 The chief priest Azariah, who was of th…

Living Letters from Paul: A Series on the Epistles, week 6

The Empty Church Philippians 2:1-11 October 19, 2014 First Presbyterian Church, Sterling Il Christina Berry


Dear Sisters and Brothers of the 21st century American church,
Greetings from the church at Philippi.

Our city was founded by Philip of Macedon, the father of Alexander the Great, about 350 years before the time of Christ. We were once the site of a strategic garrison, and a royal mint. During the Roman civil war, Philippi was the place where Mark Antony and Octavian caught up to Brutus and Cassius, the assassins of Julius Caesar. After that war, our town became a popular retirement city for Roman soldiers. Philippi was populated mostly by Romans and Greeks.

Paul first visited our city on his early missionary journeys, when the Holy Spirit came to him in a dream and told him to come to Macedonia. Even though Paul was arrested during his very first visit to us, he loved us and wrote to us with deep affection and joy.

This scripture provides an ethic that describes how we are …

Living Letters from Paul: A Series on the Epistles, week 5

Outside the Box Ephesians 3:14-21 October 12, 2014 First Presbyterian Church, Sterling, IL Nannette Pashon and Christina Berry

Dear Sisters and Brothers of the 21st century American church,
Greetings from the churches of Ephesus!
We were a collection of congregations in Asia minor. This letter came to us from an early Christian teacher who wrote in Paul’s name, to instruct the church in how to live in unity with Christ and with one another. It was written for all churches, not just to address one single congregation with its particular issues. We’re glad we can share this letter with you, as it was meant to be shared.

The Epistle to the Ephesians speaks to the church’s need to understand itself as an expression of God’s love in Christ Jesus, built on the foundation of that love, supported by grace, and illuminated by the Holy Spirit. So we, along with you, were called to build up the body of Christ. As this body of Christ, brought from death into new life, we are to live as thankful…

Living Letters from Paul: A Series on the Epistles, week 4

Fruitful Living Galatians 5:16-25 October 5, 2014 First Presbyterian Church, Sterling, IL Christina Berry
Clay pots. Clothing. Now fruit. The apostle Paul seems to really like metaphors. If you don’t remember that term from school, or if you haven’t learned that word yet, “Metaphor is a form of thought that occurs when we use one word to mean another word.”[1] A metaphor stands in for something else in a poetic way, like saying “Jesus is my rock,” or “My teacher is a real dragon,” or “My best friend is totally a chicken” Unless your best friend actually is a chicken, of the clucking, egg-laying, feathered variety.

So – metaphors – Paul really likes them. Remember, he’s the one who said we are the body of Christ. He like sports metaphors, too – running a race, competition, and objects - military armor, buildings. Jesus used metaphors, too – lots of them. In that day and time, the choice of metaphor was different from what we might say. Jesus and Paul used terms and imagery that were fam…