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Showing posts from November, 2016

Making Change

Isaiah 9:6-7, Luke 1: 46-47, 52-55
November 27, 2016
First Presbyterian Church, Sterling, IL
Christina Berry

Our first reading is a part of the scripture you hear nearly every Christmas Eve, from the prophet Isaiah. In these two verses we hear the prophecy of the promised child. “Three times in the book of Isaiah a child is a sign of a new era of prosperity, the ‘God with us’ pronouncement of Isaiah 7:10-17. The child is used as a symbol three times in Isaiah 11:1-10. The shoot of Jesse begins and ends the unit. The same chapter paints a picture of peaceable kingdom, where a child shall lead them. Isaiah 9 likewise announces a new era,. The sign of this new era will be a child.”[1] Let’s listen for how this child will change everything in Isaiah 9:6-7

For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be end…

All the Fullness of God

Colossians 1:11-20
November 20, 2016
First Presbyterian Church, Sterling IL
Christina Berry

Today is the last Sunday of the liturgical year,Christ the King Sunday, or Reign of Christ Sunday, and the last Sunday of our annual stewardship season,AND most of us are looking forward to Thanksgiving this Thursday. It’s fitting that all these events converge in this way, because two of the central ideas of Christian stewardship in the Presbyterian and reformed tradition are gratitude for everything in our lives and the lordship of Jesus Christ over all of our lives.

Our scripture is from the epistle to the Colossians, from the Apostle Paul to a church founded by his student Epaphras.The reading begins with loving encouragement to these new Christians,words that ground them firmly in faith and hope,and call them to endurance, commitment, and love of Christ. There follows one of the most beautiful and joyful Christ hymns in all of scripture, a song that expresses not only a high Christology b…

Not Weary

2 Thessalonians 3:6-13
November 13, 2016
First Presbyterian Church, Sterling, IL
Christina Berry

This second letter to the Thessalonians was written sometime around 50 AD. Although this letter is attributed to the Apostle Paul, it is questionable whether or not he was the actual author. In any case, the letter carries with it much of the character of Paul who founded that church, and loved the people.

The letter is to the church at Thessalonica, a thriving seaport in Macedonia. It was, like all of Christianity at the time, a new, young congregation. All the overlays of interpretation, tradition, custom and theology had not yet accrued to these new Christians. There was virtually no history, no structure, no organization. There was, however, the expectation that Jesus was coming back. Soon. He had promised he would, and they thought it would be in their lifetime. Because of that, some of the community there had decided to stop working. These were not people who were disabled – they h…

Saints Alive

2 Corinthians 8:1-5
November 6, 2016
First Presbyterian Church, Sterling IL
Christina Berry

Our scripture reading today comes from Paul’s second letter to the churches of Corinth. Paul had an intense relationship with the Corinthians. He loved them, cared deeply for them, and wanted them to grow in their faith. But there had been disappointments in his ministry with them. They tended to be attracted to other preachers who seemed more glamorous. They didn’t always listen to his teaching. But Paul was intent on helping the members of the church in Corinth live as disciples of the living Christ. This part of the letter concerns the collection that Paul is taking up for the Christian in Jerusalem who are in deep poverty. Earlier in his letters, Paul has instructed the Corinthians about taking up a collection when they gather for worship on the Lord’s day. Now, Paul encourages them to offer their best in support of the church. Paul’s hope and prayer for those Christians was that they would liv…