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Showing posts from May, 2016

A Song of Hope

Psalm 96: 1-4; Lamentations 3:21-25
May 29, 2016
First Presbyterian Church, Sterling IL
Christina Berry

We have two readings today, both from the Hebrew scriptures. Both are songs of hope.
Our first reading is a song of joy and praise for our great and glorious God: Psalm 96: 1-4

O sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth. Sing to the Lord, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples. For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; he is to be revered above all gods.

The word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.

The second scripture selection is from the book of Lamentations. That’s an Old Testament book of only five chapters. It rarely shows up in worship, rarely gets preached. It is a book that is exactly what its name describes: a series of laments. The reading is from the middle of the book, and the basis for the hymn “Great is Thy Faithfulness.”

(You can hear a great rendition of tha…

Rock, Paper, Scissors

A Trinity Sunday sermon
Psalm 8; Proverbs 8: 22-31; John 16: 12-15
May 22, 2016
First Presbyterian Church, Sterling, IL
Christina Berry

Today is Trinity Sunday.
It is the only Sunday on the church calendar that addresses a doctrine rather than an event.If you are familiar, which many of you are by now, with the church year, we start with Advent, move on to Christmas and Epiphany, then Lent and Easter, and fifty days later, Pentecost.

But on this Sunday, the Sunday after Pentecost, we celebrate the Trinity – a doctrine of the universal church. Not all who fall under the appellation of Christian are believers in the Trinity, and for some people, that makes them “not Christian.” Mormons, for example, believe in Father, Son and Holy Ghost, “united in purpose and separate in person.”[1] Jehovah’s Witnesses do not accept the doctrine of the Trinity, nor do Christian Scientists.

But for the last several centuries –actually since the year 451, the year of the council of Chalcedon, the vast…

What Must I Do?

This is the last sermon in our series on the Acts of the Apostles: Who We Are.

John 17:20-23; Acts 16:16-34
May 8, 2016
First Presbyterian Church, Sterling IL
Christina Berry

I mentioned last week that these chapters of John’s Gospel we’ve been looking at are part of what is called Jesus’ “farewell discourse.” Last week the content of that discourse was essentially instructions about what the disciples were supposed to do after Jesus had left them. In this reading, there are no more instructions or assurances or commandments or suggestions. Jesus is simply praying for the disciples. By extension, Jesus is also praying for us. Let’s listen to his prayer in John 17:20-23

"I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may …

An Open Heart

John 14: 23-29, Acts 16:9-15
May 1, 2016
First Presbyterian Church, Sterling IL
Christina Berry

Our gospel reading is a part of what is known as Jesus’ “farewell discourse” a long parting speech that was probably originally more a dialogue than the monologue it looks like in John’s gospel. In any case, Jesus is giving some assurances, and some instructions, to his disciples before he takes his leave from them. You can imagine it like a very loving parent, about to leave the kids on their own, making sure they know how to handle things, reminding them of the important stuff, and reassuring them that they will be just fine. The question that precedes this particular section is in John 14:22, when Judas, not Iscariot, but the other Judas, asks Jesus, “‘Lord, how is it that you will reveal yourself to us, and not to the world?” Let’s listen for Jesus’ answer in John 14:23-29.

23 Jesus answered him, "Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to the…