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Showing posts from April, 2018

“Unless Someone Guides Me”

John 15:1-8, Acts 8:26-40
April 29, 2018
First Presbyterian Church, Sterling IL
Christina Berry


The gospel reading today comes from the farewell speech of Jesus, in which he reminds his followers of their relationship to him and to one another, and the life-giving connection that they share. It’s worth noting as Jesus reminds us of who he is, he shows us who we are, in relationship to him. We are the branches on the vine, where the fruit grows. The production of fruit depends on us as much as it does on him. Let’s listen for God’s word to us in John 15:1-8:

1 "I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower.
2 He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit.
Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit.
3 You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you.
4 Abide in me as I abide in you.
Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine,
neither can you unless you abide in me.
5 I am the vine, y…

By the Name

John 10:11-18; Acts 4:5-12
April 22, 2018
First Presbyterian Church, Sterling IL
Christina Berry



Today’s gospel reading is from the poetic gospel of John. Unlike Matthew, Mark, and Luke, the gospel of John does not give a chronological account of the life of Jesus. His deeply theological narrative shows Jesus to be the light of the world, he tells of the signs that point to Jesus as Messiah and point us to Jesus. In the reading for today, Jesus identifies himself as the good shepherd. Like the shepherd in Psalm 23, Jesus provides care, guidance, sustenance and safety. Let’s listen for the voice of the shepherd in John 10:11-18

“I am the good shepherd.
The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep,
sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away—
and the wolf snatches them and scatters them.
The hired hand runs away
because a hired hand does not care for the sheep.

I am the good shepherd.
I know my own a…

Learning to Share

April 8, 2018
John 20:19-31; Acts 4:32-37
First Presbyterian Church, Sterling IL
Christina Berry

Today’s gospel reading is traditional for the Sunday after Easter, the account of one of the post-resurrection appearances. Last week, we heard how Mary of Magdala reported that Jesus was alive, now our attention shifts away from the tomb and to the locked room where the men hid in fear. Although this is a significant gospel story, it is not our focus text today. But it does lay the groundwork for our reading from Acts, because it demonstrates for us the importance of faith in the risen Lord as the very foundation of the church that was going to come into being. Although they would not have said it this way at the time, those people hiding in fear in that locked room were Easter people.

Let’s listen for God’s word to us in John 20:19-31:

When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews…

The Challenge of Easter

John 20:1-18
April 1, 2018
First Presbyterian Church, Sterling IL
Christina Berry


John 20:1-18
1 Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. 2 So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, "They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him."
3 Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. 4 The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5 He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in.
6 Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, 7 and the cloth that had been on Jesus' head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. 8 Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also w…