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Showing posts from January, 2017

Blessed?

Micah 6:1-8; Matthew 5:1-12
January 29, 2017
First Presbyterian Church, Sterling IL
Christina Berry

In our first reading, imagine that God has called a tribunal. The judges for this proceeding are the mountains and the hills, God’s very own creation. Those contending in this tribunal are God and mortals. The controversy is clear – God has not done anything to humans but free them and redeem them and save them and feed them. What is the fair compensation, then, than mortals should render unto God? Are we to bring burnt offerings of yearling calves? Or maybe God would be happier with an offering of thousands of rams and ten thousands rivers of oil? Does it come down to the sacrifice of our children? Will that offering satisfy God? The answer is perhaps not what you might expect, given the imbalance of the transaction. Let’s listen for what God asks of us in Micah 6: 1-8

1 Hear what the LORD says:
Rise, plead your case before the mountains,
and let the hills hear your voice.
2 Hear, you moun…

Leaving Our Nets

Isaiah 9:1-4; Matthew 4:12-23
January 22, 2017
First Presbyterian Church, Sterling, IL
Christina Berry

Our first reading today is again from the book of the prophet Isaiah, this time one of the prophecies of the messiah. You recently heard this, if you were in church on Christmas Eve, but you heard even more verses than in this reading. Following the text you hear today comes the familiar “Unto us a child is born...a son is given…and his name shall be called “wonderful counselor, almighty God, everlasting father, the prince of peace. The promise is that in a time of struggle and anguish – captivity, brutality, hunger and poverty – in a time of deep darkness, God will send a savior. Let’s listen for God’s promise in Isaiah 9:1-4


1 But there will be no gloom for those who were in anguish.
In the former time he brought into contempt
the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali,
but in the latter time he will make glorious the way of the sea,
the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the…

Not Lacking

Isaiah 49:1-7; 1 Corinthians 1:4-9; John 1: 29-42
January 18, 2017
First Presbyterian Church, Sterling IL
Christina Berry


Our first reading today is from the Hebrew Scriptures, the book of the prophet Isaiah. This section, like the scripture we heard last week from Isaiah, is a part of the text called “Servant Songs.” These prophetic promises have long been understood as pointing to the identity of the Messiah, the promised one who fulfills God’s covenant. But the servant songs can also be understood to be speaking to all of God’s servants – the people of Israel, the descendants of Abraham, and you and me. Let’s listen to God’s call to us in Isaiah 49:1-7:


1 Listen to me, O coastlands, pay attention, you peoples from far away!
The LORD called me before I was born,
while I was in my mother's womb he named me.
2 He made my mouth like a sharp sword, in the shadow of his hand he hid me;
he made me a polished arrow, in his quiver he hid me away.
3 And he said to me, "You are my servan…

Water Clean, Water Holy

Baptism of Christ Sunday
Isaiah 42:5-9, Matthew 3: 13-17
January 8, 2017
First Presbyterian Church, Sterling, IL
Christina Berry


Our first reading today is from Isaiah, a part of one of the texts that are called “the servant songs.” These poetic passages are widely understood to be prophetic promises from God to God’s people – promises of comfort, of liberation, and of covenant. The God of the servant songs is the God whose spirit moved across the face of the deep in Genesis, the one who speaks and brings order out of chaos and whose covenant brings a future with hope, and a new vision for all of humankind. Let’s listen for God’s promise in this portion of the Servant Song in Isaiah 42:5-9


Thus says God, the LORD, who created the heavens and stretched them out,
who spread out the earth and what comes from it,
who gives breath to the people upon it and spirit to those who walk in it:
I am the LORD, I have called you in righteousness,
I have taken you by the hand and kept you;
I have given you…