February 2015 Archives

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. 

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.

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I *am* Cary Bass-Deschenes
Written by Cary Bass-Deschenes
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