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Showing posts from October, 2016

Accidental Saints

Luke 19:1-10
All Saints and Stewardship Kickoff
October 30, 2016
First Presbyterian Church, Sterling IL
Christina Berry

As we come to this reading in Luke 19:1-10, Jesus is nearing Jerusalem for the final week of his life. On his way into the city of Jericho, Jesus healed a blind man who called out to him, “Jesus, son of David! Have mercy on me!” Now as Jesus passes through Jericho, he encounters another man in need of mercy: a chief tax collector by the name of Zacchaeus.

Luke 19:1-10
He entered Jericho and was passing through it. 2 A man was there named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was rich. 3 He was trying to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was short in stature. 4 So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to see him, because he was going to pass that way.5 When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today.”6 So he hurried down and was happy to welcome hi…

Who Do You Think You Are?

Luke 18:9-14
October 23, 2016
First Presbyterian Church, Sterling, IL

Luke 18:9-14
He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt:
"Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, 'God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.' But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, 'God, be merciful to me, a sinner!' I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted."

This past Friday, Bob and I found a series on Netflix called “Black Mirror.” It’s a kind of modern day “Twilight Zone” – a television series …


Luke 18:1-8
October 16, 2016
First Presbyterian Church, Sterling IL
Christina Berry

As we continue in Luke’s gospel with today’s reading, we hear yet another of Jesus’ parables. Jesus is still on the road to Jerusalem in this chapter, but we aren’t certain exactly where it is that he tells this story. This section of Luke deals with Jesus’ teaching about the rich and poor, the privileged and the disadvantaged, the oppressed and the tyrant.

In this particular parable, Jesus has been teaching the disciples about faith and prayer, and it seems at first that this story concerns that. But there is more to this parable than meets the eye, as usual. What starts as a simple story about prayer turns out to be a complex teaching about faith, persistence, and a Christian ethic of active resistance to injustice. Let’s listen together for God’s word in Luke 18: 1-8

1 Then Jesus told them a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart.
2 He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who …

One in Ten

Luke 17:11-19
October 9, 2016
First Presbyterian Church, Sterling Il
Christina Berry

In our story today, Jesus is on the road to Jerusalem. In Luke’s gospel, the journey to Jerusalem starts in chapter nine, and ends at the cross, so it is like a gospel travelogue. In Bible study on Wednesday, when we looked at the reading, we also looked at the map of the region at that time. Galilee, where Jesus had been, is due north of Samaria. Samaria is due north of Judea, where Jerusalem is. 
Map of Samaria, Galilee and Judea
Most travelers on their way to Jerusalem from parts north, Jesus included, skirted around the region of Samaria on their journey. They avoided Samaria like we’d avoid a neighborhood where every resident was our enemy. There wasn’t anything particularly terrible or different about Samaria itself. It was the Samaritans they wanted to avoid. The Samaritans had close historical and religious ties to the Jews, and in fact some were descended from the tribes of Israel.

But they also …

Faith Rekindled

2 Timothy 1:1-14
October 2, 2016
First Presbyterian Church, Sterling, IL
Christina Berry

Our scripture reading today is from the Second Letter to Timothy, a part of what are called the “pastoral epistles” – First and Second Timothy, and Titus. Timothy is the grandson of Lois and the son of Eunice, both of them converts to Christianity due to the influence and preaching of the Apostle Paul. Paul has known Timothy since he was a child, and feels like a spiritual father to him. The pastoral letters have been attributed to the Apostle Paul, and much of their content sounds like him, but the authorship is uncertain. In any case, the love and encouragement in these letters shines through.

The writer instructs Timothy to boldly share the gospel, with courage, and to continue in his Christian journey, a journey from suffering to ultimate glory. Let’s listen for God’s voice in these encouraging words from 2 Timothy 1:1-14.

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, for the sake of the pro…