November 2016 Archives

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. 

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