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Showing posts from March, 2017

Hungry Hearts

Psalm 37:10-17; Matthew 5: 1-2, 5-6
March 12, 2017
First Presbyterian Church, Sterling, IL
Christina Berry

Our first reading comes from the Psalms today, a Psalm that may not be familiar to many of us. You know, of course, that the Psalms are in verse, like poems and songs, and that many of them were used in worship in ancient Israel. You are probably familiar with the some of the Psalms – maybe even lots of them! – like Psalm 23, “The Lord is my shepherd…” Or maybe Psalm 121 – “I lift up my eyes to the hills…” And you’ve heard phrases from Psalms, even if you didn’t know the source. But there are 150 Psalms, and most of us aren’t that well-versed in the less-quoted ones.

Psalm 37 is a song of assurance to the people of Israel, people who had suffered under various oppressors, and who had lived with persecution and hardship. Granted, some of their troubles were the result of their own disobedience, but this Psalm assures them of God’s justice. It is also the Psalm that Jesus quotes dire…

Greatly Honored

This is the first sermon in a Lenten sermon series on the Beatitudes from the Sermon on the Mount.

Deuteronomy 15:7-8; Matthew 4:23-5:3
March 5, 2017
First Presbyterian Church, Sterling IL
Christina Berry

As we begin our series on the Beatitudes, let’s set the scene and the context. Beatitude means blessing – a simple word that we use often, but maybe not in the ways that Jesus used it. The scriptures are filled with allusions to blessings – the blessings from God to people, from fathers to sons, between brothers, and the blessing of the covenant and the law. As a faithful Jew, Jesus was a student of the law, and as the Messiah, he was also the fulfillment of the law. Part of that law was the injunction to welcome the stranger,to care for the alien that resides in your country, and to care for the poor and the needy.

Listen for that injunction in this reading from Deuteronomy 15:7-8:

If there is among you anyone in need, a member of your community in any of your towns within the land that th…

Glory Be!

2 Peter 1:16-21; Matthew 17:1-9
First Presbyterian Church, Sterling, Illinois
February 26, 2017
Christina Berry

Our first reading, from second Peter, comes from a letter that was written at least one generation after Jesus’ death and resurrection. It is a reminder to the Christian community that the stories of Jesus are our family stories, and they are true stories. These stories are told and retold, like any family stories, until we ourselves feel like eyewitnesses to the events they describe. Like all true stories passed down from generation to generation, these stories must be repeated so that their power is not lost to time. The interpretation of them comes through the power of the Holy Spirit, and so they are never individual stories, but truths shared by the community of those who follow Jesus. This story is a reminder to us of the glory we now share, and the glory that is yet to come. Let’s listen for the Holy Spirit speaking to us in 2 Peter 1:16-21:

For we did not follow cleverly…