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Showing posts from January, 2016

The Stargazers

Matthew 2:1-12
January 3, 2016
First Presbyterian Church, Sterling IL
Christina Berry

Today’s reading from the gospel of Matthew is the reading for Epiphany, the 12th day of Christmas, which is actually on January 6. We don’t always observe Epiphany in this church, but I like to lift it up for several reasons.

The first reason is to remind us that Christmas is not one day, but a season, twelve days which begin on December 24 and end on January 6.

The Western tradition of celebrating the birth of Christ for only one day
with gifts and trees and overeating is a relatively modern innovation.
It seems sad to me, that so often we have this huge buildup
that begins around Halloween and then abruptly ends on December 25th.
Christmas is not over yet!

The second reason I like this celebration is that it invites us to consider the big arc of geography, history, faith, science and theology all in one observance. These “wise men” we hear about are actually Zoroastrian astronomers – scientist…

Love Songs

December 20, 2015, Fourth Sunday of Advent
Isaiah 52:7-10
First Presbyterian Church, Sterling, IL
Christina Berry

The people of Israel, the descendants of Jacob, were in exile, captives in Babylon. They had been taken away from their homes after they had again strayed from God’s law. Things weren’t quite as bad as they had been when they were slaves in Egypt. At least in Babylon, they had a little bit of freedom. But still, it was not home. They were waiting for God’s deliverance – some were waiting patiently, but mostly they were anxiously anticipating God’s deliverance. So when they heard the prophetic words of Isaiah that we are about to hear, they did not say to themselves, “Oh, that will be nice some day -- five or six hundred years from now!” They did not hear these words as a prediction of a Messiah to be born five centuries from then – they were ready to be delivered from their exile!

As it eventually happened, Cyrus of Persia – the area that is now Iran, was Israel’s deliver…

Breathless Joy

December 13, 2015, Third Sunday of Advent
First Presbyterian Church, Sterling, IL
Christina Berry

Luke 2:8-14
In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace among those whom he favours!’

Truthfully, it is really hard to imagine how I could add anything to the presentation we’ve all just enjoyed. But, it is Sunday, and somebody gave me a microphone…

The Sunday of the childr…