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Showing posts from June, 2016

Free to Love

Galatians 5:1, 13-25, Luke 9:51-62
June 26, 2016
First Presbyterian Church, Sterling, IL

As you’ve heard for the last several weeks, the Galatian Christians have been confused by some teachers who have told them, contrary to what Paul has taught them, that they need to follow Jewish practice as part of their faith. Paul has been sorting this out for them, explaining the importance of the law but emphasizing that faith is more important. Now, as his letter is coming to a close, he points the Galatians toward a more concrete understanding. You have been set free from slavish compliance with the law, he says, but you have been set free so that you may place yourself in servitude to a greater law – the law of love. If you live into that freedom, being led by the Spirit, Paul tells us, your life will demonstrate it with the fruits of the Spirit. Let’s listen for the message of Christian freedom in Galatians 5:1, 13-25:


For freedom Christ has set us free.
Stand firm, therefore, and do not subm…

Wearing Christ

Galatians 3:23-29, Luke 8:26-39
June 19, 2016
First Presbyterian Church, Sterling IL
Christina Berry


We are about half- way through the book of Galatians, and we are about to see, in this text, the turn in Paul’s argument. He has written to the churches of Galatia because he is alarmed that they have been told they need to add something more to their faith. These former pagans have been told that they must become Jewish, too, and Paul wants to assure them that this is not necessary. In typical polemic Pauline fashion, he uses a kind of verbal shorthand to distinguish the two sides of the argument- “the law” on one hand, and “faith” on the other. This is a false dichotomy, frequently misinterpreted through our Western Christian lens of interpretation. The law itself is not the problem. The problem is that people can so easily derive their identity from so many things other than the grace of God though faith. Paul declares unequivocally where our identity truly rests.

Let’s listen for God’s…

A Matter of Life and Death

Galatians 2:15-21, Luke 7: 40-50
June 12, 2016
First Presbyterian Church, Sterling IL
Christina Berry


Last week we began a look at the book of Galatians, one of the earliest letters from the Apostle Paul to the newly formed churches. In the verses that begin what we call chapter two (remember, Paul didn’t write his letters with chapters and verse numbers) Paul refers to an argument he’s had with other leaders. The argument concerned whether non – Jews -Gentiles – could follow in the Jesus way and if so, whether they needed to follow Jewish practice, tradition and law. There was a strong sense that if a Gentile wanted to join up, they needed to sign up for the whole covenant – circumcision, dietary restriction, and observance of the traditions. Let’s listen for what the Apostle Paul says about that, and for God’s word in Galatians 2:15-21

15 We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; 16 yet we know that a person is justified not by the works of the law but through faith i…

Glory Be!

Galatians 1:11-24; Luke 7:11-17
June 5, 2016
First Presbyterian Church, Sterling, IL
Christina Berry

Our first reading for today comes from the first chapter of the Apostle Paul’s letter to the churches in Galatia. For the next few weeks we’ll be looking at this letter and thinking about what it might have to say to us today. The context of this letter is much like most of Paul’s letters to churches – it was occasioned by an issue in the church that Paul took great pains to address in writing. This particular letter was written not to just one congregation but to a cluster of house churches, and it was intended as a kind of circular for them to share.

Paul is extremely distressed with the Christians in Galatia. He started the churches there, and has an almost parental feeling for them. Now he writes to say is astonished and perplexed by them – in fact, he is really quite angry and dismayed. One sign of his anger is that among all of Paul’s epistles, this is the only one that does not…