Jesus doesn't do his hometown any special favors, reaching out to those who are more in need. They got mad about it. Could there be some deep seated fear?

Please listen to the sermon rather than read it.  The delivered sermon is often considerably different than the sermon notes which are included for convenience below.  

Sermon delivered at Lutheran Church of the Cross in Berkeley. 

January 31, 2016 - Fourth Sunday after Epiphany

"Privilege".  Text is from Luke 4:21-30


Good morning to you my sisters and brothers in Christ, saints and sinners, children of God. 

No sooner is Jesus speaking the good news that the fulfillment of all of the hopes and dreams of the people of Israel from the prophet Isaiah has come to pass, that those selfsame people of Israel begin to turn on him. And not just any people but the ones from his own home town, Nazareth, those who watched him as a child, watched him grow up and had him sitting in the temple teaching to them. Because while the prophecy of the coming salvation is all well and good, the idea that they might have to take a second seat to others. That the good news might not be to his home town folk first and then to others later.

Jesus declared he Year of the Lord's Favor was now. Our baptism demands that we live into that ordained time of Jubilee. 

Please listen to the sermon rather than read it.  The delivered sermon is often considerably different than the sermon notes which are included for convenience below.  

SPECIAL NOTE: the recorder was off the first 6 minutes of the sermon so I had to rerecord that portion it from home, later.  The sound quality will be going through a distinct change about 6 minutes in -- Cary.

Sermon delivered at Lutheran Church of the Cross in Berkeley. 

January 24, 2016 - Third Sunday after Epiphany

"Jubilee".  Text is from Luke 4:14-21


Good morning to you my sisters and brothers in Christ, saints and sinners, children of God. 

The year of the Lord's favor is upon us and there is good news to be heard all over the place.  

From the very beginning we hear that Jesus is filled with the spirit. In Luke this takes place right after his time in the wilderness, which started as well, Jesus was filled with the spirit, having been driven into the wilderness by its power under his baptism. And as Luke tells us, a report has already spread about him to the surrounding country, and of what?  Because virtually nothing has taken place in public except the event of his baptism. And now he arrives in Nazareth, his home town, where people already know who he despite the reports because this was the town where he was raised and because it is the Sabbath, he heads to the synagogue.

Six jugs of wine?  That's ridiculous?  Who is going to drink that much in just a few days of a wedding? But the blessing of Jesus Christ makes the sweetness and quality immeasurable.  

Please listen to the sermon rather than read it.  The delivered sermon is often considerably different than the sermon notes which are included for convenience below.  

Sermon delivered at Lutheran Church of the Cross in Berkeley. 

January 17, 2016 - Second Sunday after Epiphany

"Wine Beyond Measure".  Text is from John 2:1-11


Good morning to you my sisters and brothers in Christ, saints and sinners, children of God. 

While the Wedding of Cana may seem fairly straightforward at first glance, there is in fact quite a bit going on here if you have read it a few times through, and no small amount of subtleties in the dialogue among and action between each of the participants. And so let me lay out the essential parts of the way that John intended to lay out the account.

This is the very first of Jesus' miracles in John. There is a fairly recognizable pattern for miracles in John in that it starts with describing the place and time, then moves forward into describing the complications, and then some actions that need to be done before the miracle and finally the miracle itself. This recounting of the Wedding of Cana is especially important as it is the first one of Jesus' miracles in John. Although there are many other stories that never found their way into the New Testament, some in particular which focus on Jesus' childhood, this is truly the first of the miracles of Jesus, as he himself says his hour has not yet come, we understand that he has not yet been revealed. In fact, Jesus does not do miracles for the sake of doing them, but so that those who are following him may understand who he is.

Baptism is a means of entry into Christian community. But it is not only that. Remember your baptism? I don't. 

Please listen to the sermon rather than read it.  The delivered sermon is often considerably different than the sermon notes which are included for convenience below.  

Sermon delivered at Lutheran Church of the Cross in Berkeley. 

January 10, 2016 - Baptism of our Lord

"Our Baptism".  Text is from Luke 3:15-17, 21-22


Good morning to you my sisters and brothers in Christ, saints and sinners, children of God. 

Well, it feels like we've gotten out of the wondrous Christmas season and no sooner are have we finished with the accounts of Christ's birth that we jump full force into Jesus's ministry. With a hearken back to part of an account we read in Advent, one in which John the Baptist makes his important prophecy about the coming Messiah, we come full circle, because that reading was, in fact what brings us to Jesus's own baptism.  Which is a baptism like no other baptism. 

Like many others, we see that Jesus was baptized in the midst of a time when other people were being baptized, putting Jesus in the midst of humanity, and emphasizing the fact that Baptism is a community event. However, it's important to emphasize once again that the baptisms that were done by John, in fact all of the baptisms done in those days were done out of repentance to declare a human being free from sin. It was done in order that their enmity be washed away and that they become new persons. 

The mystery of Christ not only declares that we are reconciled to God by the divine grace of God's son, Jesus Christ, but we are also reconciled to one another. 

Please listen to the sermon rather than read it.  The delivered sermon is often considerably different than the sermon notes which are included for convenience below.  

Sermon delivered at Lutheran Church of the Cross in Berkeley. 

January 3, 2016 - Epiphany Sunday 

"Revelation and Reconciliation".  Text is from Ephesians 3:1-12


Good morning to you my sisters and brothers in Christ, saints and sinners, children of God. 

What bright morning star leads three foreign astrologers to the manger in which the newborn Christ lies? And what an amazing and odd story that we celebrate on the Epiphany; because these three men were not of the Jewish faith, no, in fact practitioners of acts that the devout Jew would find offensive, the divination of things to come by virtue of the skies.  So why include this story of the arrival of these three wise men from afar to bear witness to the newborn king? This is an account three pagan Gentiles bearing gifts to be witness to the one who is to come and lead all into glory and reconciliation with God. 


Whether it be angels or helicopters, the messages from above might give us some insight as to how to be neighbors to those who need shelter. 

Please listen to the sermon rather than read it.  The delivered sermon is often considerably different than the sermon notes which are included for convenience below.  

Sermon delivered at Lutheran Church of the Cross in Berkeley. 

December 24, 2015  -  Christmas Eve

"Message from Above".  Text is from Luke 2:1-14


Merry evening to you my sisters and brothers in Christ, saints and sinners, children of God.

Here we have to night the hope of the ages, the coming of the newborn Jesus Christ, Messiah of all the heaven.   We have the birth of Christ set in historical perspective, while Augustus is emperor and Quirinius as governor of Syria, while Joseph makes his way all the way from his home in Nazareth way up in Galilee all the way to Bethlehem, not far from Jerusalem, because that's where he was born.


The encounter between Mary and Elizabeth is incredible on a number of levels. And what Mary has to say is amazing.  

Please listen to the sermon rather than read it.  The delivered sermon is often considerably different than the sermon notes which are included for convenience below.  

Sermon delivered at Lutheran Church of the Cross in Berkeley. 

December 20, 2015  -  4th Sunday in Advent

"Conversation between Two Women".  Text is from Luke 1:39-55


Good morning to you my sisters and brothers in Christ, saints and sinners, children of God.

If the words to this morning's reading sounds familiar to some of you, well, it's because every Wednesday we sing it here during our Vespers service, right after our community meal.  And what we have in it is somewhat amazing, particularly in terms of scripture. 

It's something that happens all the time.  Women visiting one another, and talking about things. And in this case, pregnant women, friends, who love and admire one another, being there for each other. But this is not the kind of thing that holy scripture is usually about, which what makes it amazing here. 

God loves all his people. Some that we believe hopelessly bad of us have the potential to do good things, and the rest of us have the potential to do bad. And both good and bad are in each of us.  

Please listen to the sermon rather than read it.  The delivered sermon is often considerably different than the sermon notes which are included for convenience below.  

Sermon delivered at Lutheran Church of the Cross in Berkeley. 

December 13, 2015  -  3rd Sunday in Advent

"Take a Moment".  Text is from Luke 3:7-18


Good morning to you my sisters and brothers in Christ, saints and sinners, children of God.  

What started out as a kind of a side show has morphed into something that's taken a different direction altogether.  The people came out to the Jordan River to witness this unusual character named John the Baptist, because they knew he was going to shout at them and tell them that they were nothing but a brood of vipers. But when they start to hear then thing that he says, they become agitated. And even hearing him berate them and telling them that they were doomed he also offers them some kind of hope. That even despite the sins that they have been doing there is an opportunity for them to turn it all around. 


I'm posting this here because I've had difficulties reading any online version of this text from my phone, and I wanted to make sure that people had easy access to a readable version of the text if they wanted to find it.  I've included the entirety of the text in this entry, but in particular, a readable version is available by following this link: It Works How and Why: Step 5.  
Please note, the following text does not belong to me. It is included here for convenience. It is the copyright of Narcotics Anonymous (©NA).


STEP FIVE
"We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs."
Now that we have completed our written inventory, it is essential that we share it promptly.  The sooner we work our Fifth Step, the stronger the foundation of our recovery will be. We've built this foundation on spiritual principles such as surrender, honesty, trust, faith, willingness, and courage; with each step forward in our recovery, we strengthen our commitment to these principles.  We reaffirm our commitment to recovery by immediately working Step Five.

The world speeds by at a phenomenal rate. We are living in a time that will never come again. God's time is God's time and while we await God's return, there's no point in rushing it. Be in the now. 

Please listen to the sermon rather than read it.  The text is included for your convenience, but it is not entirely like the delivered version, which includes nuances that can't be read.  

Sermon delivered at Lutheran Church of the Cross in Berkeley. 

December 6, 2015  -  2nd Sunday in Advent

"Take a Moment".  Text is from Luke 3:1-6


Good morning to you my sisters and brothers in Christ, saints and sinners, children of God.  

Our reading from Luke begins with an interesting take on the setting of where we are in the history of Israel. Pontius Pilate was governor and Herod and Philop and Lysanaus were rules over parts of the divided provinces of Israel. Annas and his son-in-law Caiaphas were the high priests over the Judeans, a role they switched from time to time.  No, this reading is not set in the birth year of Jesus, we'll get to that in the coming weeks. No, this is the precursor to his ministry, where John the Baptist foretells the coming of one whose shoes he is not even worthy to tie by way of a reading from Isaiah, whose words, seeking the repentance of the hearers, are intimately familiar to those people of Israel. 


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