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Unstoppable

Genesis 15:5-12, 18 Luke 13:31-35
February 21, 2016, Second Sunday of Lent
First Presbyterian Church, Sterling IL
Christina Berry


On this second Sunday of Lent, we are invited to feast on the faithfulness of God’s promises. In both Old and New Testaments, we see stories that point our attention to the unstoppable mercy and love of God, who acts in our lives with boundless mercy.

Our Genesis reading tells us about a conversation between Abraham and God. Abraham has heard God’s promises, but at this point in the story, he has not seen the fulfillment of the covenant. He is still Abram, not Abraham; his wife is still Sarai, not Sarah, and they still do not have a son and heir.

He is questioning whether God intends to keep the promises of the covenant, and he dares to ask whether God is going to be faithful. First, God told him to gather up his goods and his wife and his herds and go to a new country. And he did. Then God told him to wait and he would have a son. Abram has been waiting. So fa…

Milk and Honey, Bread and Stones

Deuteronomy 26:1-11, Luke 4:1-13
February 14, 2016
First Presbyterian Church, Sterling IL
Christina Berry

Our first reading on this first Sunday of Lent is from Deuteronomy, a retelling of the laws God gave on the Mount of Revelation, Mount Sinai. Here we see Moses, near the end of his ministry, as he warns the Israelites not to become complacent in the promised land they are about to enter. They will cross the Jordan into Canaan, but Moses will not go with them. So he calls them to remember their history, and to celebrate God’s grace in leading them to this land, to celebrate with thanksgiving and bringing their best gifts.

The story lifts up the central meaning of stewardship: offering to God the first returns of our labor as an act of worship and thanksgiving, and as a symbol of the dedication of ourselves and all our possessions to God. There is special mention of the care for the priestly tribe of Levites, landless servants of God, and the “sojourner“ perhaps, in today’s terms, “ref…

Homecoming King

This is the final installment of a series on the early life of Jesus.
Jeremiah 1:4-10, Luke 4:21-30
February 7, 2016
First Presbyterian Church, Sterling IL
Christina Berry



Our first reading today comes from Jeremiah -- the prophet, not the bullfrog!
Jeremiah describes the event of his calling by God, while he was young and feeling unprepared for the work God had set before him. Let’s listen for God’s call in

Jeremiah 1:4-10

Now the word of the LORD came to me saying, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations." Then I said, "Ah, Lord GOD! Truly I do not know how to speak, for I am only a boy." But the LORD said to me, "Do not say, 'I am only a boy'; for you shall go to all to whom I send you, and you shall speak whatever I command you, Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, says the LORD." Then the LORD put out his hand and touched my mouth; and t…

Learning By Heart

This is the second in a brief series on the early life of Jesus.
Nehemiah 8:1-3, 5-6, 8-10, Luke 4:14-21
January 31, 2016
First Presbyterian Church, Sterling IL
Christina Berry

Our Old Testament reading today comes from the book of Nehemiah. You may remember that this is a book of history, and Nehemiah was a cup-bearer to the king of Persia. Because he is in a position of trust, the king sends him to Jerusalem to lead the Israelites in rebuilding their city. After the long years of exile, they are finding themselves again, and re-establishing their identity as God’s covenant people. The lessons they had learned and forgotten have been re-learned in the rebuilding of the walls of the city. Now they gather around their beloved Torah, the word of God, and Ezra reads the scripture and interprets it to them. The people are overcome with emotion as they hear the word. Let’s listen with that same attentive delight for God’s word to us in

Nehemiah 8:1-3, 5-6, 8-10

1 all the people gathered together…

Fathers and Sons

This is the first sermon in a short series about the early life of Jesus.  Jesus: The Missing Years 
Luke 2:21-42
January 24, 2016
First Presbyterian Church, Sterling IL
Christina Berry


Our gospel reading today is from the gospel of Luke, one of the few stories we have about the early life of Jesus, and the only story in which we see Jesus as a child, speaking and acting on his own. After his birth, we read that the family was warned to get out of town, because King Herod was looking for them, and killing every child under the age of two in an effort to kill Jesus and eliminate the threat he posed. The family lived in Egypt for a time, then returned to the hometown of Mary and Joseph, where they presumably lived permanently from then on. It was the custom of every faithful Jew who could do so to “go up” to Jerusalem at Passover, to worship in the temple. That’s what we find Mary and Joseph doing in this story from scripture, and this is where we get a glimpse of the young Jesus.


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