Recently in 2016 Category

All the earth was to be registered according to the Luke, which seems considerably stronger than just a simple sentence. Registered implies a much stronger means of keeping track of people.  

 This sermon is quite a bit different from how it was written, therefore, please listen to the sermon rather than read it.  The sermon notes which are included for convenience.  

Sermon delivered at Lutheran Church of the Cross in Berkeley. 

December 24, 2016 - Christmas Eve  

"Registered".  Text is from Luke 2:1-20




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

This is the night for the hope for all the ages. And here, Luke has lain it out in great detail, Augustus is emperor of all of Rome, and Quirinius is the governor of Syria. And because the emperor is demanding that all of this world be registered, Joseph is forced to make his way from his home in Nazareth, which is in the north of Israel around Galilee to Bethlehem, which is not far from Jerusalem because it is where he hails from, coming from the line of David, who was also originally from this place.

baby jesus helpless.png

God comes in the form of a human being in the same way all human beings come into the world, a fragile and vulnerable infant who can't take care of itself. What does this mean about who our God is?  

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

Sermon delivered at Lutheran Church of the Cross in Berkeley. 

December 21, 2016 - 4th Wednesday in Advent

"Fragile and Vulnerable God".  Text is from Luke 2:1-20

This Sunday's gospel was concentrated around Joseph. Joseph could have set Mary aside when he heard she was with child. Joseph received instructions from an angel and chose to take her as his wife. Joseph had all the power. Because women had no power in those days. 

 This sermon is quite a bit different from how it was written, therefore, please listen to the sermon rather than read it.  The sermon notes which are included for convenience.  

Sermon delivered at Lutheran Church of the Cross in Berkeley. 

December 18, 2016 - Fourth Sunday in Advent  

"Condition of Women".  Text is from Matthew 1:18-25




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

Now, a lot of people might be familiar with the story of the birth of Jesus, and we have seen performances from Christmas Pageants the longer and inevitably more familiar birth narrative originating from Luke. We see Mary hearing from the angel and we see Mary being the devoted pregnant mother, and Mary always seems to be the most important part. But Joseph? He has never really gotten much to say in a Christmas pageant. He seems to be relegated to a side part.

But reading the narrative from Matthew, we don't do a lot of talking much about Mary and the birth at all, so much as we do about the drama surrounding Joseph and the angst that he must have been going through. 

But what was Joseph to do anyway? When we say that Joseph was engaged to Mary, it's not so much like we understand engagement. Joseph didn't walk up to Mary, get down on one knee, pull a ring from out of his pocket and say, "Mary, will you do me the honor of becoming my wife?"

Isaiah is always a prophet of two times, his time and the time of Christ. 

mother and child.jpg

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

Sermon delivered at Lutheran Church of the Cross in Berkeley. 

December 14, 2016 - 3rd Wednesday in Advent

"Third Wednesday in Advent".  Text is from Isaiah 7:10-16

You go into the desert, do you expect to see palaces? You have a warehouse with no running water and sketchy electricity, you expect to have sprinklers and smoke detectors? You have out-of-control housing prices, what kind of conditions you expect for the people who can't afford proper housing? 

 This sermon is quite a bit different from how it was written, therefore, please listen to the sermon rather than read it.  The sermon notes which are included for convenience.  

Sermon delivered at Lutheran Church of the Cross in Berkeley. 

December 11, 2016 - Third Sunday in Advent  

"What Did You Expect?".  Text is from Matthew 11:2-11




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

The gospel during Advent is good news. It is anticipation from beginning to end. It cries out from the perspective of souls longing for justice and self-determination. It reminds us that our God is a God who brings justice to all the world, a God who feeds the hungry, who frees the captives, welcomes the poor, the stranger, the widow and the orphan into God's loving arms. As Mary cries out, God comes to the aid of God's servant Israel, and remembers a merciful promise made to Abraham and all that would succeed him, a promise that with the birth of Jesus becomes open to all the world.

And yet, when we look at our Gospel message, we relate a time of ending for one of the heralds of the king to come. We read about one part of John the Baptist's ministry last week, while he was baptizing people in the River Jordan. Now he is in Herod's prison, hopeful that the one who he's been hearing about, Jesus of Nazareth, is the one foretold by the prophets, the one who he's been proclaiming who is coming forth. And John the Baptist has good reason to be wondering, because he knows his time is at end. It matters not what his eventual fate will be, and I doubt even John knew that he would soon be served up on a platter to the daughter of Herod, regardless, John knows that he will not be lasting very long in the prison. 

We choose rulers and they are sometimes chosen for us. They are always imperfect. No matter who rules us here on earth, our King is Christ.   

 This sermon is quite a bit different from how it was written, therefore, please listen to the sermon rather than read it.  The sermon notes which are included for convenience.  

Sermon delivered at Lutheran Church of the Cross in Berkeley. 

November 23, 2016 - Christ the King Sunday   

"Kings and Queens".  Text is from Luke 23:33-43




Today we are at the end of our liturgical year, and we can also view this as the primary time to look forward to the coming kingdom and remember who it is that reigns on the throne. But the text that we're focusing on today is one at the crucifixion, not of Revelations, not of predictions but situated smack dab amid Christ's passion. And we see upon this hill called the Skull not just one cross but three, for along with Jesus hang two men who are condemned to die as well, albeit for serious infractions against the people. 

And even at his time of death, even as the centurions taunt him, as the leaders of the Judeans make fun of him, Jesus asks the Father for forgiveness for all of them. 

But even the first criminal appears to taunt Jesus as well, echoing for a third time the running joke, why can't Jesus just save himself from the cross, if he is indeed and truly the messiah. 

We're anxious about a lot of things these days. Lately, anxiety about the election takes precedence over a longer lasting, more deeply ingrained anxiety: that of our own deaths. 

 This sermon is quite a bit different from how it was written, therefore, please listen to the sermon rather than read it.  The sermon notes which are included for convenience.  

Sermon delivered at Lutheran Church of the Cross in Berkeley. 

November 6, 2016 - All Saints Day   

"Anxiety".  Text is from Luke 20:27-38 




Happy All Saints Day to you, brothers and sisters, children of God, people of LCC and beloved guests, sinners and saints. 

Now those of you who have been walking with me this summer and fall, will know that I talk about Luke during this season while uplifting the journey that Jesus is making from Galilee to Bethlehem. This long, meandering journey that never seems to end. And we can imagine the journey taking place over six months to be real, as there was a lot for Jesus to do in such a short distance. But what we don't get the benefit of is Jesus arrival into Jerusalem, no, that reading takes place during Holy Week. Instead today we have Jesus already in Jerusalem, taking a trap by some Sadducees, the elite, aristocratic and priestly class of people an opportunity to educate some Sadducees about the nature of the resurrection.  

These Sadducees have so much anxiety around the end of life. They are not really interested in what Jesus has to say about their little game. They're interested in trapping him. The Sadducees, as we know don't believe in a resurrection, but why is this. Even as far back as our first reading in Job we are reading about how the writers understood that a physical death would still be followed by standing before the Lord. There is hope for the resurrection in Jewish literature of old, but we are always very clear in the gospels that the Sadducees had no concept of it. They only accept the Pentateuch, the first five books of the bible. They're much more interested in trapping the newly arrived Jesus than seeking actual answers. 

Doing all the right things doesn't mean squat if you treat your fellow human being with contempt. We all need to remember that most of us think we're doing the right thing, and want to do the right thing, even when we're not.

 This sermon is quite a bit different from how it was written, therefore, please listen to the sermon rather than read it.  The sermon notes which are included for convenience.  

Sermon delivered at Lutheran Church of the Cross in Berkeley. 

October 30 - Reformation Sunday  

"Saints and Sinners".  Text is from  John 8:31-36




Happy Reformation Sunday to you, brothers and sisters, children of God, people of LCC and beloved guests. Saints and sinners, each and every one of you. And I say that last, on Reformation Sunday there, deep at the heart of the Reformation, where we get our understanding of understanding of us being simultaneously saints and sinners, or simul justus et peccator. Because being human means we are bound to sin. Living means we are bound to sin. And although we strive to perfection, to being perfect human beings, there is no way we can be completely free from sin in our day to day lives. All of us. 

And yet, we are also simultaneously saints, because Christ has freed us from the bondage of sins. The wages of sin are death. Our escape from that fate is Christ. And we are made sanctified by his blood, and become simultaneously saints even in our constant imperfection. We, in our sinful state are made perfect human beings by the blood of the lamb and become worthy to be in God's kingdom. 

Doing all the right things doesn't mean squat if you treat your fellow human being with contempt. We all need to remember that most of us think we're doing the right thing, and want to do the right thing, even when we're not.

 This sermon is quite a bit different from how it was written, therefore, please listen to the sermon rather than read it.  The sermon notes which are included for convenience.  

Sermon delivered at Lutheran Church of the Cross in Berkeley. 

October 23 - 23st Sunday after Pentecost 

"Humbling and exalted".  Text is from Luke 18:9-14

Click here for sermon audio 





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

A Pharisee and a tax collector walk into a temple.

Stop me if you've heard this one.  

Both of these men are coming before God with their own idea of what they want to receive from the experience. 

Now when you think about it, the temple is quite a daunting place and it can be such for anyone coming forward who does not feel that they are in a right place with God. But the Pharisee has been here many times and is certain of himself. He follows what he's been taught to follow, God's law, by the letter, or so he believes himself. And he's doing what he thinks is the right thing to do, thanking God for the gifts that he has given him... and that he is not like all those sinners that he lists off, thieves, rogues, adulterers, and even that tax collector over there that came in when he came in here. 

We don't always get what we want from persistent prayer and there are times that we don't understand God at all. But God listens, and God acts. 

 This sermon is quite a bit different from how it was written, therefore, please listen to the sermon rather than read it.  The sermon notes which are included for convenience.  

Sermon delivered at Lutheran Church of the Cross in Berkeley. 

October 16 - 22st Sunday after Pentecost 

"Persistent".  Text is from Luke 18:1-8

Click here for sermon audio 





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

What does it take before we finally get justice? How many times do those who are oppressed have to cry out before the people in power finally listen to what they have to say and deliver a verdict that is fair and just? 

Jesus is telling those who are following him a parable that descries what it means to be persistent in prayer. It involves a widow and an unjust judge, someone who basically doesn't care. It's very clear in the text what this judge's issue is, he just doesn't like people. He's a misanthrope, and one gets the feeling he is just going to the bench to do his bare minimum that he needs to do and nothing more. 

Of course this widow that continues to pester him will not be daunted. She knows she has been wronged. We don't know what the matter is, whether it has to do with her property, some injury to her person, but it is definitively a matter that needs to be dealt with fairly and for certain. 


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This page is an archive of recent entries in the 2016 category.

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I *am* Cary Bass-Deschenes
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