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Showing posts from April, 2016

The Same Gift

John 13:31-35; Acts 11:1-18
April 24. 2016
First Presbyterian Church, Sterling, IL
Christina Berry

Both of our readings today mark important turning points – for followers of Jesus, and in the life of the church. As I mentioned last week, the church we are talking about did not even exist during the time of the gospels, when Jesus was on the earth. Christianity was only beginning to develop in the Book of Acts, when those who believed in the risen Lord began to meet in homes early in the morning on the first day of the week. Like the sudden conversion of Saul on the road to Damascus, these events changed everything – everything – about what people understood themselves to be as followers of Jesus. Our first reading, from John’s gospel, takes place at the Last Supper, when Jesus is celebrating Passover with the disciples. Judas has just left the room, to complete his betrayal of Jesus. And now, Jesus gives a new commandment, new to these faithful men and women who have left everything to f…

Alive in Christ

Alive in Christ
Acts 9:36-43
April 17, 2016
First Presbyterian Church, Sterling, IL
Christina Berry

Last week, we began a series on the book of Acts, a series which will continue until we celebrate Pentecost on May 15. You heard about a change of plan for a fellow named Saul, a sudden and radical event that changed Saul from a persecutor of Christians to a missionary of the gospel. The Book of Acts, the Acts of the Apostles, describes for us the events of the early church.The Christians of the first century were still working out what that meant, to be Christian. The events of that time – the healings, the missionary journeys of Paul, the Jerusalem council, the travels of the apostles,
and the response to their message – shaped how they understood the message of Jesus.

The Acts of the Apostles depict for us a community of faith whose identity is being shaped as the community forms.There was no Book of Order, no precedent, no plan. This is on the job training, for everyone in those early Chr…

We Have Come to Believe

1 Corinthians 15:1-11, Luke 24: 1-12
March 27, 2016, Easter Sunday
First Presbyterian Church, Sterling, IL
Christina Berry

Our first reading today is from Paul’s first letter to the church at Corinth. Corinth was a religiously diverse colony of Rome, a city whose reputation was one of wealth without culture and diversity without sophistication. The early church there reflected the city – a few very wealthy and influential people, a wide diversity of backgrounds, with Jews, Greeks, Roman freedmen and immigrants making up the bulk of the congregation. But it was only the rich who had sufficient space and resources to host the house church gatherings, and it was only the wealthy who could leave off work early enough to come and eat the best food and drink most of the wine of the communal meal before the poor working stiffs arrived. You can imagine that sometimes resentment and conflict that would arise. We know that the church at Corinth had many struggles, which occasioned Paul’s letters an…