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Showing posts from March, 2018

Freely Given

John 12:20-33, Psalm 51:1-12
March 18, 2018
First Presbyterian Church, Sterling IL
Christina Berry

Our gospel reading from the gospel according to John comes from the 12th chapter. In the verses just preceding this reading, Jesus has entered Jerusalem, riding on a donkey, accompanied by crowds shouting “Hosanna,” and waving palm branches. It’s worth considering that only in John’s gospel are the branches specified as palm branches. Since the Maccabean period of about 167-160 BCE, palm branches were symbols of national triumph and victory. The palm branches point us to the fact that the crowd greets Jesus as their national hero.[1] This only increases the discomfort of the Roman authorities. In this scripture, John points out that “some Greeks” have come up to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. They find Philip and ask him to take them to Jesus.

Let’s listen for God’s gracious word to us in that encounter with Jesus in John 12: 20-33
20 Now among those who went up to worship at the …

Signed, Sealed, Delivered

John 3:14-21; Psalm 107:1-3, 17-22
March 11, 2018
First Presbyterian Church, Sterling, IL
Christina Berry

We are again in John’s gospel this fourth Sunday in Lent. We heard last week about one of the events which John calls “signs,” as Jesus threw the moneychangers from the temple. John’s gospel is particularly focused on the incarnation – Jesus as God in human flesh, as a sign of God’s presence, and on the signs that point us to that reality. John’s gospel begins with a focus on Jesus as “the Word made flesh,” Jesus as the light of the world, shining in the darkness. In the verses that lead up to today’s reading, a man named Nicodemus has come in the dark of night to talk to Jesus. They discuss how a person needs to experience a new birth in the Spirit, and Jesus continues with a reference to the deliverance of the Israelites, and how an effigy of a snake lifted up effected their healing. Let’s listen for God’s word to us in John 3:14-21

And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the…

Glorious Things

John 2:13-22; Psalm 19
March 4, 2018
First Presbyterian Church, Sterling, IL
Christina Berry


The event described in our gospel reading appears in all four gospels. The scene is known as “Jesus Cleansing the Temple.” In the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, this event takes place right after Jesus enters Jerusalem in the last week of his life. In them, this event is the last straw, prompting the arrest of Jesus. In John’s gospel, Jesus cleanses the temple right after his first sign, the miracle of turning water into wine at the wedding at Cana. Let’s listen for God’s word to us in John 2:13-22:

The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. He told those who were selling the doves,
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