The cross has come to represent many things over the year, but during the Roman era, before the cross became the symbol of Christianity, it was a sign of punishment and humiliation 

The text notes I preached from are after the sermon audio for convenience, however, I suggest you listen to the sermon audio, because it is in the delivery of a sermon in the midst of the people of God which is where he Holy Spirit is doing the strongest work within me; and there will not only be some changes to the notes but also emphasis and intonations that don't occur in the notes. 

Sermon delivered at United Lutheran Church of Oakland
March 1, 2015  - Second Sunday in Lent

"Restorative Justice" - Lectionary text from Mark Mark 8:31-38




The Lent season is a time of reflection, self-examination and repentance. With a new cycle of Restorative Justice starting at San Quentin this coming Wednesday, that inspired me to tie in Jesus' call for repentance in the Gospel text with the Restorative Justice program.

The text notes I preached from are after the sermon audio for convenience, however,  always suggest you listen to the sermon audio, because it is in the delivery of a sermon in the midst of the people of God which is where he Holy Spirit is doing the strongest work within me; and there will not only be some changes to the notes but also emphasis and intonations that don't occur in the notes. 


Sermon delivered at United Lutheran Church of Oakland
February 22  - First Sunday in Lent

"Restorative Justice" - Lectionary text from Mark 1:9-15



Sermon delivered at United Lutheran Church of Oakland
February 15 - Transfiguration of our Lord

"Witness to the Glory" - Lectionary text from Mark 9:2-9


Greetings to you this day my sisters and brothers, saints and sinners, children of God. 

In 2004, a six year old boy named Alex was riding in a car with his father when they suffered a horrible traffic accident. Alex's father, Kevin, survived the accident relatively intact by being ejected from the automobile, but Alex, suffering a severe impact that paralyzed him, and he went into a deep coma, doubtful that he would survive.  For two months his family prayed for him, never losing hope entirely, although the prognosis looked grim

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And then, two months later, Alex returned from the coma with a surprising and incredible recounting. After he had suffered the impact, he floated out of his body and watched his father ejected from the car, only to be caught by angels. He then traveled all the way to heaven, going through its tall gates. He heard unearthly music which surprisingly, irritated his young ears. And, most incredible of all, he spoke to Jesus.

With the help of his father, the paralyzed boy got the memoirs together. Over the years, struggling to get the book published, they found ways to get Alex the treatment he needed, in 2009, Alex became the youngest person, at age 10, to receive the same treatment Christopher Reeve had in order to breathe freely without a ventilator. That same year he became able to stand upright.  

Sermon delivered at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church - San Jose
February 8 - Fifth Sunday after Epiphany

"Stepping out of the Boat" - Text from Matthew 14:13-33


Greetings to you this day my sisters and brothers, saints and sinners, children of God. 

Faith story

12 step programs are a way of finding a way out of many kind of self-destructive behaviors, such as alcoholism, narcotics, gambling, and eating disorders.  The third step of any twelve step program reads as such: "Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him."  Because Having a definition of God is a meaningful and important part of recovery from whatever behavior or addiction that seems to be troubling you.  

I've heard a little saying that relates to the third step that goes like this: "There are there frogs sitting and sunning themselves on a log in the middle of a flowing creek. The log seems to be starting to go faster and faster and faster, as the sound of tumbling water gets louder and louder.  The creek seems to disappear into thin air a little ways ahead of the log.  One of the frogs makes a decision to jump off the log before it finally tumbles over the waterfall.  The question is this: How many frogs tumble over the waterfall with the log?

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It's kind of a trick question. The answer is three. Making a decision to jump off the log isn't good enough. How many of you can relate to this?  I can have a big plate of spaghetti and make a decision to put it aside when eaten half of it, and still wind up with an empty plate before I get up from eating. It's because making a decision isn't always good enough for us. 

I have a good friend of mine who I'll call Sam who has a decent job that he goes to each and every day. It pays a good salary and it enables him to afford his security gated $2,000 / month studio apartment in Emeryville.  But it's not a really great job. Sam is constantly under a lot of stress. It's a small office, and he isn't sure what kind of state his boss, the business owner, is going to be on a daily basis.  Sometimes his boss is easygoing, has projects in place for Sam to manage, and gives him all the resources he needs to manage them.  Sometimes his boss is aggravated, and yells at Sam, the receptionist, his other co-worker. Mistakes have been made and it's everyone's fault, no matter whose fault it is. 

On Whose Authority? - Sermon for Epiphany + 4

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Sermon delivered at United Lutheran Church - Oakland
February 1 - Fourth Sunday after Advent

"On Whose Authority" - Text from Mark 1:21-28



Greetings to you this day my sisters and brothers, saints and sinners, children of God. 

Some days I look at all the things around me and I am just blown away at the time that we live in.  The Internet is something that most of us could not have even imagined only 30 years ago or even the impact it has on our lives today, just 20 years ago. But here we all are, in this day and age, with information available at our fingertips, access to friends and families available constantly at our computers, tablets, smartphones.  In fact, I just recently saw a smart watch available at a Verizon store.  It made me think about Dick Tracy's wrist band 2-way video feed, brought to life, but more than that, it contains constant access to everything you can access on any tablet or smartphone. 

Just about two weeks ago, I attended my 91 year old grandmother's funeral in South Carolina, and while my family is still in the process of continuing to mourn her death and celebrate her life, I realize along with the process, that she is my last immediate relative with no online access. Indeed, my sister, the Wednesday my grandmother died, petitioned Facebook and Google plus in order to gather photographs from my siblings, aunts, and cousins alike, and they were ready in just two days in a musical slideshow, uploaded to Youtube on Friday afternoon for her viewing.

Sermon delivered to St. Francis Lutheran Church
January 25 - Reconciling in Christ Sunday (Third Sunday after Advent)

"Reconciled and called" - Text from Jonah 3:1-5, 101 Corinthians 7:29-31, Mark 1:14-20




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Greetings to you this day my sisters and brothers in Christ and family in life. 

The week before last my 91 year old grandmother died, and I went to South Carolina to be with my family and help with the funeral, which included providing the homily.  While I thank you for your thoughts and prayers, she felt that her time had come, and she was more than ready to go. In many ways it was as much as celebration as it was a remembrance of her life and times. 

But besides all of that, I had the opportunity for the first time in my life to stand in the pulpit in the church of my childhood, the church of my family for five generations and over a hundred years. The church where my parents were married and where I was confirmed and where my Lutheran identity was well formed. 

Sermon - Funeral for Mama Myrtle

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Mama Myrtle 1979.jpgSermon delivered January 17, 2015
At St. Luke's Lutheran Church, Columbia South Carolina

The Gospel according to Matthew, the 11th chapter

At that time Jesus said, 'I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

 'Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.'


Let us pray,

May the words of my mouth and the mediation of my heart be acceptable to you, Lord, my rock and my redeemer. 

Amen

Greetings to you this day my sisters and brothers in Christ and family in life. We are here today to mourn the loss and celebrate the life of Myrtle Estelle Kyzer Spigner, who many people know as Mrs. Spigner, many other people know as Myrtle or Miss Myrtle, and a no small number of us, including myself, know as Mama Myrtle.   

And she was known by so many names because she touched so many people's lives through her family who is well represented here in this chapel, her church life here at St. Luke's, her work with Airport High School, her arts and crafts, which she dearly loved, and even at the end of her life the people she touched at Agape Senior Living.  

Sermon delivered to St. Francis Lutheran Church
October 19, 2014 - Children's Sabbath (Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost)

"Children" - Text from Matthew 19:13-15 




Greetings to you, my family in Christ, sisters and brothers, saints and sinners, children of God.

I am approaching 48 years old, and of course, it is not "old" by many measures, as many members of my beloved St. Francis family will remind me when I complain about the toils that age has thus far been having on me. But it does seem to be a kind of milestone in my life. Way back in 1989, over half my life ago, I tested positive for HIV, which pretty much eliminated the question of passing on my DNA to later generations, for fear of passing on the virus as well, and so any time I ever thought about the desire to have children, I pretty much moved forward from that thought. But now, in 2014, I am still around and in better health than ever, and my virus has been undetectable for probably the last five years. But I'm going to be 48 soon, and my spouse is going to be 60. And so the prospect of bringing a newborn child into this world now is also the prospect of approaching 70 when that child is in the midst of college. It will be a time that I hope to be beginning retirement and at least joining my husband's golden years in life.

The Prickly Guest - Sermon Pentecost +18 (A) 2014

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Sermon delivered to St. Frnacis Lutheran Church
October 12, 2014 - Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost

"The Prickly Guest" - Text from Matthew 22:1-14 

 You should listen to the delivered sermon. The text is provided below for convenience, but as with any delivered sermon, I go off the text as the spirit leads me. 




Greetings to you, my family in Christ, sisters and brothers, saints and sinners, children of God.

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This week has been an impressive week for good news. I'm delighted to tell you, my Saint Francis family, that I have been recommended for a call to Emanuel Lutheran Church in Modesto. The call committee has presented its unanimous recommendation to the Church Council, who has approved it, and now it goes before the congregation itself. And while the significance of the fact that a pastor with a same-gender spouse would be called to an ELCA church in the central valley is not lost on me, part of my own identity is that I am a pastor who happens to have a same-gender spouse, and not a gay man first and a pastor second. Indeed, one of the wonderful things about the changes that have happened in our church in the years since the 2009 ELCA churchwide decision that my identity with regard to lifelong committed relationship with another human being is no longer the first consideration in whether or not I will be called as a minister of Jesus Christ in this church.

Sermon delivered to Hope Lutheran Church-El Sobrante
September 28, 2014 -Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost

"Let Go, Let God" - Text from Exodus 14:10-14, 21-29




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