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The Trinity is a doctrine that attempts to define what God is. What matters most however, is what God is to 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. 

May 22, 2016 - Holy Trinity Sunday

"Ascended friend".  Text is from Luke 24:44-53

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

Father, Son and Spirit.

God in three persons.

The trinity.  

Last Sunday we celebrated an evet in the life of the church, the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the followers of Jesus Christ. Today we celebrate a doctrine that arises based on our imperfect understanding of who God is, based on the words we from the mouth of Jesus Christ as spoken through his disciples and through the writers of the gospels, handed down to us through the centuries.

And our reading today consists of four very short verses in John which come from the section of the gospel known as the Farewell Discourse, that incredibly rich and lengthy dialogue that took place during the Last Supper in which Jesus explains to his disciples what is about to occur and what shall occur after he is gone. As we know, their lives were not all sunshine and daffodils after Jesus rose, but there is certainly some comfort to be found along the course of this dialogue, found in the gospel of John, also known as the Gospel of Love. 

One of these days I will be getting around to posting about each and every one of my tattoos and explain the symbolism behind each and every one.  Although there are at least a couple that I got because I just wanted to get them, but have managed to create post-symbolism after the fact. It's all about symbolism is it not? 

But I had to post about the most recent one, in honor of my grandmother, Myrtle Spigner, who died last January 2015. I'd been long trying to figure out what it was that I was going to get in her honor, particularly given that she was not especially fond of tattoos. Nevertheless, she still wanted to see what I had on me just so she could shake her head about it.  

And yet, she was such an integral part of my formation and identity, particularly with respect to my call to ministry. 

Myrtle Spigner was a devout Christian all her life, with an unwavering faith of a quality that I have rarely seen even in church. And when she passed away last year at the age of 91, I felt a deep and abiding loss.

She did not live to see me ordained, although she knew it was the path I was heading to, as my ordination finally came seven months later on August 30. 

The tattoo that I got in her honor, prominent on my left forearm, is a cross surrounded by crépe myrtle flowers. I made the design via Photoshop by splicing a metal cross tattoo flash art with a botanical drawing of crépe myrtle, which I diced and sliced and printed. The tattoo itself was done by East Bay Shorty who is a tattoo artist living in Bozeman, Montana (see East Bay Shorty's facebook page here) in two sessions, the first in March at my home in Richmond, California and finished on a trip I took to Bozeman in May.  


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 I think Momma Myrtle would be okay with this.

What does the Ascension--and by extension, the Resurrection--mean for us today? One thing it means is that the one who is to judge us is well known as a friend to sinners. 

lease 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. 

May 8, 2016 - Ascension Sunday

"Ascended friend".  Text is from Luke 24:44-53

Click here for sermon audio





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

We have spent the last few Sundays preparing ourselves for the departure of Jesus from among his disciples. Indeed, since he returned from the dead, he's made quite a number of his appearances, and we've gone back to the farewell discourse so we could remind ourselves about what Jesus told his faithful apostles what the departure means to them.  We've felt their anxieties, held their hands with their questions to Jesus, been with them to understand what was this mystery, that Jesus meant, that he would not be among us any more, that he would physically be taken up into the midst of God, while leaving his Holy Spirit among us to keep us company.  

And now that time is here. We see that Jesus is to arise into his glory, with his final words on earth shared among the fortunate few that were witness to his time on earth. We remember what he's told them, and through them, us: "Stick together. Love one another as I have loved you. I have to go to the Father. If you loved me, you would be happy for me that I go to the Father." And while we want to be happy for him, to us there is a certain feeling of loss, the same kind of feeling when a good friend or loved sibling decides to find better opportunities in another city. It pulls at our hearts.

Jesus gifts us peace and love during is parting time. He also left us the Holy Spirit so we would not be alone. 

lease 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. 

May 1, 2016 - Sixth Sunday in Easter

"Parting Gift".  Text is from John 14:23-29

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

Jesus continues to answer questions of his disciples in what has come to be known as the Farewell Discourse in the gospel of John, those words that he offers to his disciples to let them know what is to become of him and what they are to do when he is no longer physically with them. And although we are in the season of resurrection, the Easter season, the time between when the empty tomb was discovered and the time when Jesus finally ascends into heaven, there are some very good reasons why we have gone back in John to hear Jesus's words about his leaving. Because in this text, we can finally reflect on what it must have certainly meant to the disciples to have Jesus the man be gone from their presence at last, and yet what it means to have him yet walking alongside them.  

The new heaven and the new earth hat God is offering to us in the end does not supplant the need to steward the earth now. 

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 This is an unrehearsed homily, so there is no accompanying text!  

Sermon delivered at Lutheran Church of the Cross in Berkeley. 

April 27, 2016 - Fifth Wednesday in Easter

"Fifth Wednesday in Easter".  Text is from Revelation 21:10, 22--22:5


On our own we are lost and bewildered and can wander off track far too easily. Is it not great that we have this wonderful good shepherd to guide us along the way? 

lease 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. 

April 24, 2016 - Fifth Sunday in Easter

"By Our Love".  Text is from John 13:31-35

Click here for sermon audio





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

In just a few short verses, Jesus is providing us with a wealth of information about his nature and his future. Given the context of this statement, he speaks of the Father being glorified in him and him being glorified in the father. He foretells his departure and he gives the disciples one more, important command, that they love each other as he has loved them. 

So even as we are proceeding forward from the cross and the great resurrection, we are, at this point late in the Easter season, being drawn toward the Ascension and finally the Pentecost. This saying of Jesus, drawn as it is from Chapter 13, takes place after the Last Supper. Jesus has washed the feet of his disciples. He has given Judas the piece of bread, pointing him out to the beloved disciple as the one who would betray him. And we begin with "After he had left", meaning Judas. 

Even on our best days, we can find things that cause us anxiety or stress, and none of us are immune to the pain that life brings. But God brings us hope of freedom from stress and pain. 

 This is an unrehearsed homily, so there is no accompanying text!  

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Sermon delivered at Lutheran Church of the Cross in Berkeley. 

April 20, 2016 - Fourth Wednesday in Easter

"Fourth Wednesday in Easter".  Text is from Revelation 21:1-6

On our own we are lost and bewildered and can wander off track far too easily. Is it not great that we have this wonderful good shepherd to guide us along the way? 

lease 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. 

April 17, 2016 - Fourth Sunday in Easter

"Not In It Alone".  Text is from John 10:22-30

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

Jesus is speaking to Judeans who have preconceived notions of what the Messiah is supposed to be, what they've heard about Jesus what their own interpretation is of the promises that Jesus is to fulfill. We can empathize with them at least for a little bit because indeed, they've been waiting for a Messiah and they've heard some good things about this Jesus of Nazareth but he is not exactly acting and speaking what their version of the Messiah is like. And so they're impatient and they want to call him out, to "speak plainly" and tell them whether he is or not this Messiah, this Christ that they are ready for. 

And Jesus answers plainly. They just have to hear what he's been telling people all over the place, that the information is already there.  That they would already know if they just believe. That if they were members of his flock, they would already believe, and then this question should not be coming up at all. And we find some variation on this next line, that the sheep know his voice, and they follow him automatically, with no questions asked. 

How important is it to Love Jesus when Jesus tells us to love him, and are we able to love him in thee way he wants us to love him? 

lease 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. 

April 10, 2016 - Third Sunday in Easter

"Do You Love Me?".  Text is from John 21:1-19

Click here for sermon audio





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

There is so much happening right here today's texts, a richness of information and dialogue, from the Acts reading to Revelation all the way into this particular Gospel text. There is an immense amount of glory to be found in today's scriptures.  

The act of believing happens generally through a process. While faith is a gift, rarely does it occur without evidence for we skeptical human beings. 

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. 

April 3, 2016 - Second Sunday in Easter

"Coming to Believe".  Text is from John 20:19-31

Click here for sermon audio






Jesus tells us, "blessed are those who believe without seeing." But who is he referring to? It is certainly nice to think that he may be referring to us, here in the 21st century, because we know for certain it was meant in contrast to how Thomas came to believe that Jesus has risen.


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