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Showing posts from January, 2018

First and Foremost

Mark 1: 21-28; 1 Corinthians 8: 1-13
January 28, 2018
First Presbyterian Church, Sterling, IL
Christina Berry

Ordinarily, when the scriptures are read in worship, the gospel reading would be the last one read. I guess we usually want to have Jesus to have the last word. But today, we are going to read the gospel first, because this Sunday, we want Jesus’ words to come first, and the words of the Apostle Paul to come second.

So our first reading comes from the first chapter of Mark, in which we see the first miracle Mark records, as Jesus heals a very ill man at the synagogue. Mark is, I think, less interested in the miraculous healing, and more interested in us understanding the identity and authority of Jesus. He places that statement of identity and authority in the mouth of an unclean spirit, right in the middle of this story, Let’s listen for God’s word to us in Mark 1:21-28:

They went to Capernaum; and when the sabbath came, he entered the synagogue and taught. They were astounde…

Go Fish

Jonah 3:1-5, 10; Mark 1:14-20
January 21, 2018
First Presbyterian Church, Sterling IL
Christina Berry

Our first reading today comes from the Old Testament, a little book, tucked way in the back, among the minor prophets. Even though Jonah is a small book, it may be among the more familiar stories, even to people who aren’t religious. That’s because of the part about Jonah being swallowed by a big fish – familiarly called a whale, though that isn’t the term in the story. It’s also not exactly the point of the story.

Here’s a Cliff’s notes refresher. (Kids, Cliff’s notes were what we use before the internet, when we hadn’t read the book but needed to pretend like we had. They sold them at bookstores, little black and yellow booklets… not that I ever used them….anyway…)  Jonah, son of Amittai, is called by God to carry a message to Nineveh. He’s supposed to go tell that wicked city to repent, or God will smash them. But Jonah doesn’t want to go to Nineveh. Not at all. So instead he…

Before and After

1 Samuel 3:1-10; John 1: 43-51
January 14, 2018
First Presbyterian Church, Sterling IL
Christina Berry

John 1:43-51
The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee.
He found Philip and said to him, "Follow me."
Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter.
Philip found Nathanael and said to him, "We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth."
Nathanael said to him, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?"
Philip said to him, "Come and see."
When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, "Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!"
Nathanael asked him, "Where did you get to know me?"
Jesus answered, "I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you."
Nathanael replied, "Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!"
Jesus answered, "Do you believe because I told you tha…


Genesis 1:1-5, Mark 1:4-11
January 7, 2018
First Presbyterian Church
Christina Berry

On this day when we recall and celebrate the baptism of Jesus, we begin with the beginning, the first five verses of Genesis. In the ancient world, the conception of the way the world began was that God brought forth order from the watery chaos; as science teaches us today, that is pretty much how it all started - in the watery chaos, life began. Let’s listen for the beginning of it all in Genesis 1:1-5

In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

Today’s gospel reading is the beginning of…