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Showing posts from August, 2016

Faces in the Cloud

Hebrews 11:29-12:2
August 28 2016
First Presbyterian Church, Sterling, IL
Christina Berry

Hebrews 11:29-12:2
By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as if it were dry land, but when the Egyptians attempted to do so they were drowned.
By faith the walls of Jericho fell after they had been encircled for seven days.
By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had received the spies in peace.
And what more should I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets— who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched raging fire, escaped the edge of the sword, won strength out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received their dead by resurrection. Others were tortured, refusing to accept release, in order to obtain a better resurrection. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even cha…

Happily Ever After

Job 42:7-17
August 21, 2016
First Presbyterian Church, Sterling, IL
Christina Berry

Today we come to the end of the book of Job. I’ve enjoyed this series, and I’m also glad it’s over! You too? You have been great to walk through this difficult book of the Bible together. The ending of Job is both satisfying and troubling. The satisfying part is that it ends with this kind of “happy ever after” and the troubling part is that it ends with this “happy ever after.” God has spoken to Job at last, and pointed out that Job’s understanding of God is as limited and finite as God is unlimited and infinite. Job agrees, and as he has throughout the story, trusts in God’s promise. Then, the friends come back into the picture, and everything Job has lost is restored to him. At first reading, we tend to say, “Oh, look, it all worked out okay.” But then on reflection we might say, “What? What kind of story is this?”

Let’s listen and be satisfied and troubled by God’s word for us today in Job:42-7-17
7 Aft…

God Speaks (Let the Mystery Be)

Book of Job, Chapters 38-42
August 14, 2016
First Presbyterian Church, Sterling IL
Christina Berry

You heard last week some of the 38th chapter of Job, when God answered Job out of the whirlwind. God’s beautiful, powerful and poetic speech goes on for three more chapters. I want us to overhear some of conversation between God and Job. Then we’ll hear what Job finally says in response.

I hope you’ll take some time to read this entire section – it is beautiful. Just a side note here – you’ll hear in this reading about “leviathan” and if you do some reading on your own, you’ll run into the “behemoth” too. Depending on the translation you use, those may be translated as names of familiar animals. Creationists sometimes claim they are biblical terms for dinosaurs. These are primordial, mythological beasts – the behemoth some kind of land animal, and Leviathan some kind of huge, fire breathing sea serpent - think of the ancient maps that say:”here there be dragons.” They are meant to be alien …

Finite Suffering, Infinite Hope

Job 14:7-15; Job 19: 23-27
July 31, 2016
First Presbyterian Church, Sterling IL
Christina Berry

We’ve come to our third installment of our series on Job. We’ll just do a brief recap of the story so far. This is an ancient folk tale, a story about suffering. The story opens in a kind of courtroom drama, with God and the adversary debating whether Job will keep the faith, even in the event of unspeakable suffering.

Within the first two chapters, Job loses everything except his wife and his life. All of his livestock been killed, and a house has fallen on all of his children. Only his wife survives, and her suggestion is that he “curse God and die.” Job’s friends show up, and first they sit with him in silent empathy. Then they open their mouths, and nothing they say is helpful. They suggest that he somehow deserves this suffering, or that he needs to just suck it up and deal with it. Job does not care for their answers and neither does God. Finally, Job himself speaks to God, demanding some …