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Showing posts from February, 2019

The Walls Came Tumblin’ Down

Joshua 4-6
February 24, 2019
First Presbyterian Church, Sterling IL
Christina Berry

Last week we heard the story of how two Israelites, sent by Joshua, spied in the city of Jericho, aided by Rahab the prostitute. God had told them to be strong and courageous, and that they would soon enter into the promised land, ending their time of wandering in the wilderness.

Now in these selections from Chapters 4, 5, and 6 from Joshua, we hear how they crossed the Jordan and conquered the city of Jericho. Like last week, this reading from Joshua is full of moral ambiguity, with questions that contemporary Christians may not be able to answer. There is violence and conquest, and there will be more.

We are left to struggle with some challenging questions about what the Israelites understood about God, and their covenant, and how to interpret the Biblical account in light of our own understanding of God in Jesus Christ. So let’s listen with questioning and critical ears for the word of God to us tod…

Strong and Courageous

Joshua 1: 1-2, 6-7, 9; Joshua 2: 1-6, 9, 11-13, 15, 17-18, 21, 23-24
February 17, 2019
First Presbyterian Church, Sterling IL
Christina Berry

The Hebrew Scriptures, what we call the Old Testament, begin with the Torah – five books that span the first moment of creation to the death of Moses outside of the promised land. In between, God has acted in the lives of people, creating, calling, covenanting and liberating them. Now they are about to enter Canaan, the Promised Land, as the book of Joshua begins. Let’s listen for God’s word to us in these selections from Joshua 1.

Joshua 1: 1-2, 6-7, 9
After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord,
the Lord spoke to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, saying,
“My servant Moses is dead.
Now proceed to cross the Jordan, you and all this people,
into the land that I am giving to them, to the Israelites.
Be strong and courageous; for you shall put this people
in possession of the land that I swore to their ancestors to give them.
Only be strong…

Good News

Luke 4:14-30
January 27, 2019
First Presbyterian Church, Sterling IL
Christina Berry

Our gospel reading today is Luke’s account of the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry.

Since we last read from the second chapter of Luke on Christmas Eve, the baby Jesus has grown up and gotten baptized. Then he underwent 40 days of temptation in the wilderness. He goes back to Nazareth, the hometown boy, and goes to worship.

Everything is going well – they praise him and are amazed by him. Mary and Joseph’s boy is going to be a great success, right? If it had worked out that way, we’d probably never had heard of him again. As it was, the attention and praise turned to outrage. Let’s listen for the good news in Luke 4:14-30:

Then Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee,
and a report about him spread through all the surrounding country.
He began to teach in their synagogues and was praised by everyone.
When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up,
he went to the syna…