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Showing posts from September, 2015

The Best We Can Do

James 5:13-20, Mark 9:38-41
September 27, 2015
First Presbyterian Church, Sterling, IL
Christina Berry

The letter of James is one of the most practical portions of Scripture. There are several “James” in the New Testament, including, of course, Jesus‘ brother. We have no direct indication of which James is behind the letter, or whether someone is writing under James’ name and in his style of thought! We do know that it is written in beautiful Greek, and that James was felt to be so well known in the Church that he needed no introduction. In this letter, the early Christians are invited to rely on and help each other, with the conviction that prayer will make a difference. Let us listen to his advice and encouragement, in James 5:13-20:

Are any among you suffering? They should pray.
Are any cheerful? They should sing songs of praise.
Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord…

Who Is Welcome

Mark 9:30-37
September 20, 2015
First Presbyterian Church, Sterling, IL
Christina Berry

Leader: We are so much like the early disciples! We want God to know how hard we work. We want to be praised and recognized for our efforts and successes. And we want God to pass over our failures as though they were inconsequential. When Jesus heard his disciples arguing, he responded that they should be ready for service rather than adulation. And then he placed a small child in their midst; a child with no guile, no pretense. May God help us to reach out to others, not with thought of importance or gain, but in love and compassion; truly caring for each one we meet. When we have done this, we will have truly given our hearts and our service to our Lord. Let’s listen for God’s word to us as we read responsively Mark 9:30-37

Leader: They went on from there and passed through Galilee. He did not want anyone to know it; for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them,

People: “The Son of Man is to be…

Outside the Lines

Mark 2:1-12
September 13, 2015
First Presbyterian Church, Sterling IL
Christina Berry

Mark 2:1-12 After a few days, Jesus went back to Capernaum, and people heard that he was at home. So many gathered that there was no longer space, not even near the door. Jesus was speaking the word to them. Some people arrived, and four of them were bringing to him a man who was paralyzed. They couldn’t carry him through the crowd, so they tore off part of the roof above where Jesus was. When they had made an opening, they lowered the mat on which the paralyzed man was lying. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Child, your sins are forgiven!”
Some legal experts were sitting there, muttering among themselves, “Why does he speak this way? He’s insulting God. Only the one God can forgive sins.”
Jesus immediately recognized what they were discussing, and he said to them, “Why do you fill your minds with these questions? Which is easier—to say to a paralyzed person, ‘Your sins are forgiven,…

Haves and Have-Nots

James 3:13 - 4:3, 7-8a (CEB) September 6, 2015 First Presbyterian Church, Sterling, IL Christina Berry
This week wraps up our short series on the letter of James. We are not all the way through the book, and we’ll revisit it in a couple of weeks, but next week is RALLY SUNDAY! and we start a new series called “Jesus, Outside the Lines.”

For the last few weeks we’ve been thinking about the importance of words and works in our Christian life. In a way, this scripture wraps that conversation up and ties a bow on it, because it addresses the source and motivation of our actions and words. James does that, in part, by contrasting the wisdom of God with the wisdom of humans – divine wisdom and earthly wisdom. Let’s listen for God’s word today in James 3:13 - 4:3, 7-8a as we contemplate desiring God’s wisdom in our daily lives:

Are any of you wise and understanding?
Show that your actions are good with a humble lifestyle that comes from wisdom.
However, if you have bitter jealousy and …