February 2016 Archives

You've heard it said that Karma's a b****. But that just sounds like a misinterpretation of what karma actually is. Do bad things happen because of bad things we do? Or is that just a simplistic way of looking at the world, rather than facing the scary truth that bad things happen for no reason at all? There is a meaning to life, regardless.

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. 

February 28, 2016 - Third Sunday in Lent

"Lament for Jerusalem".  Text is from Luke 13:1-9


Jesus is dealing here with a very tricky theological question that still continues to plague Christians of today. Because when bad things happen, we have to find some meaning behind the bad things that are happening, because when we don't have a reason for bad things to happen to people, because we're so in love with phrases like, "what goes around comes around," And "That Karma, isn't she a... big bad blessed itch ?" Well, I'll allow you to fill in the next word. It's a lot easier to think that disaster strikes because people have been doing something wrong rather than accepting that bad things happen without precedence, without meaning, that sometimes bad things happen to people who are good.  

And what we find with the attitudes of many people today, who would wish to attribute a cosmic cause and effect we find especially true in 1st century Israel, with these individuals who seek to find answers from Jesus by looking for answers to a question as to why certain people, Galileans, the second class children of Israel had been executed and defiled by Pontius Pilate.

How do we demonstrate love and kindness even in the face of adversity, even to those who would wish us personal harm? God calls us to mercy to others, but (s)he doesn't call us to roll over. Calling out can also be done with understanding and compassion, even if we think the object of our calling out doesn't want to listen.. 

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. 

February 21, 2016 - First Sunday in Lent

"Lament for Jerusalem".  Text is from Luke 13:31-35


Jesus is now well into his mission, and is on his way to Jerusalem when he is stopped by this helpful group of Pharisees who wish only to warn him away from the evil intent of Herod Antipas, who had recently executed John the Baptist and was absolutely a threat to Jesus. And you can be certain that these men, in fact, had convinced themselves that they were only wishing to help this man who they'd been hearing about and come to know as a possible Messiah, because, after all, what good is a Messiah if he's simply going to be going to get himself killed; and Jerusalem is a rough place and nobody can control what potentially might happen there. 

But lest we think these Pharisees are being helpful, it is good to remember that while Pharisees are not the villains they appear in Matthew's gospel, neither are they purely altruistic in Luke. There is inevitably a hidden motive. They may sound like they are being helpful but their help is ultimately a means to turn Jesus away from his mission. They are not actually doing this for his sake, but their own, because they have their own ideas of what a Messiah is all about, and it might not have a lot to do with all these healings of the riff-raff, and sitting down with the absolute worst kinds of sinners...prostitutes, tax collectors... Gentiles. Come on Jesus, be the Messiah we all expect you to be! 


Satan from Ghost Rider.jpg

If we let our guard down, if we turn away from God for a length of time, we can find ourselves regretting our actions and under the influence of powers beyond our control. But we're human, we can't always stay vigilant, what can we do? 

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

Sermon delivered at Lutheran Church of the Cross in Berkeley. 

February 17, 2016 - Second Wednesday in Lent

"Second Wednesday in Lent".  Text is from Luke 22:34--22:6 and Job 1:1-22

The Wilderness is a lonely place. And we bear the things we've given up or given ourselves to do for season of Lent because Jesus bore so much more for 40 days, and bore the transgressions of the world on the cross. And he suffered. Because God became human. Isn't that good news? 

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. 

February 14, 2016 - First Sunday in Lent

"Privilege".  Text is from Luke 4:1-13


With Ash Wednesday we entered the season of Lent in the church.  Lent is a time when Christians have an opportunity to focus on some of the things that make us who we are, and it is a time where we engage in particular almsgiving, prayer and fasting. Lenten practices can be as wide and varied as the people who do them, but ultimately we find them as doing something different from the ordinary time that we spend throughout the rest of the year. 

ashestogo.jpg

What is Lent all about and why do we put ashes on our forehead on Ash Wednesday? 

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

Sermon delivered at Lutheran Church of the Cross in Berkeley. 

February 10, 2016 - Ash Wednesday

"Ash Wednesday".  Text is from Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21


Jesus appears to go through this amazing transfiguration, but really who is it that is being transformed? 

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. 

February 7, 2016 - Transfiguration of our Lord

"Privilege".  Text is from Luke 9:28-36


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

When talking about the transfiguration of Jesus, I find myself cautious not to substitute it with the term transformation, which means a thorough or dramatic essential change in one's self.  While one may, upon looking into this account, conclude that a transformation is taking place, it is not Jesus himself being transformed, but more three disciples, Peter, John and James.

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