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Showing posts from July, 2016

With Friends Like These

suffering - Paula Smith Heffel

Job 3:1-10, 4:1-9, 8:1-6, 11:1-6, 14-17
July 17, 2016
First Presbyterian Church, Sterling IL
Christina Berry

Last week we heard the opening two chapters of Job, in which the writer imagines God and “ha-shatan” – the adversary, debating whether Job would stay faithful in the face of unspeakable suffering. It is worthwhile to emphasize a few important points as we explore this story.

First, it is widely recognized to be a story – a parable, not a literal account.
Second, the character we would call “Satan” is not a being whose name is “Satan” or “Lucifer.” We get the term “Satan” from the Hebrew words “ha shatan” which means “the adversary” or “the accuser.” The term is used to designate the character’s role in the story, not a name. So “Satan” is not a name of an individual any more than “politician” or “banker” or “arguer” or “liar” is a name.
Third, like all folk tales or parables, this story is purposeful –the characters and the story line are drawn broad…

Hold Fast

This is the first sermon in a series on the Book of Job.

Job 1-2
July 10, 2016
First Presbyterian Church, Sterling, IL
Christina Berry

Every story that begins with “once upon a time” can be expected to end with, “and they lived happily ever after.” The story of Job is no exception. But what happens in between those two phrases is not a child’s storybook tale. The book of Job is an ancient folk tale, a compelling tale that tells us something important about suffering. The theological term for that is “theodicy,” the attempt to defend God’s goodness in the face of evil. Theodicy is an effort to sort how a benevolent God can cause or permit evil and suffering in a world that God loves.

Job does not give us any easy answers. In fact, the story is a complicated, difficult tale, and sometimes it sounds like two people trying to tell the same story. That may be a result of multiple authors working on the story over time – we just are not sure about that – but it can be confusing. For today, though…

What to Carry

Galatians 6:(1-6), 7-16, Luke 10:1-11, 16
July 3, 2016
First Presbyterian Church, Sterling IL
Christina Berry

This reading marks the final week in our study of Paul’s letter to the Galatians. In his closing words, Paul tries to deal with practical issues with advice on how to challenge and forgive members of the flock, and with some general comments on good works. We should be advised not to take the sowing and reaping metaphor too literally. Doing so could give people the idea that sickness is God's punishment, an idea challenged in Job and contradicted by Jesus. As we begin a study of Job next week, we’ll get some perspective on that. Meanwhile, in Galatians, Paul puts the emphasis on working for the good of all, coming back, as Paul always does, to the centrality of the cross of Christ.

Let's listen as for God’s gracious word to us in Galatians 6: (1-6) 7 – 16

1 My friends, if anyone is detected in a transgression, you who have received the Spirit should restore such a one in …