Recently in epiphany Category

And now Jesus talks about unconditional love. Do you have an enemy? You might not even know it. We're expected to love that person anyway. Wha-what?? 

 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. 

February 19, 2017 - 7th Sunday after the Epiphany  

"Who is Your Enemy?".  Text is from Matthew 5:38-48



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

What better way to close out this year's Epiphany season--before  next week's transfiguration, that is--than the final reading of Jesus's Sermon on the Mount. We've found out who was blessed, we've learned how to be disciples, we've learned that it isn't enough just to hold to the letter of the commandments, that we need follow the spirit of them as well, and now Jesus breaks down what God expects of what it means to truly follow Him.

It seems like the further we get into the Sermon on the Mount, the more conditions Jesus puts on his people. But what is he really asking of them? 

 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. 

February 12, 2017 - 5th Sunday after the Epiphany  

"Demands on Salvation".  Text is from Matthew 5:21-37



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

What is God saying to you? What is God telling you to do? 

Here in the third section of Jesus's sermon on the mount we move from God has done this to a "do this" point. And the things that Jesus is telling us to do here, these taking of God's righteous commandments and relating them to what we normally think of as relatively minor sins... it just seems to be making things so hard. 

Blessed can have many meanings, and the implication that "blessed" was similar to "wealthy" was not unintended, even in Jesus name. But Jesus turns it around, and the beatitudes are telling us that we are blessed when we walk in his ways.

 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. 

January 29, 2017 - 4th Sunday after the Epiphany  

"Registered".  Text is from Matthew 5:1-12




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

The Sermon on the Mount, which starts with the Beatitudes, is Jesus's first act that takes place in the Gospel of Matthew. It also sets the stage for how Matthew wants to present Jesus which is as a teacher of righteousness. It is in the Sermon on the mount where the disciples of Jesus first learn about what it means to be disciples. Who was Jesus saying was being blessed, and what exactly did that mean? 

The first group that Jesus says are blessed are the poor in spirit. We find in Luke's version it simply reads poor, and what Matthew is telling us is that poverty is not only a material condition but a spiritual one. What Jesus is saying here is that the poor, who, as today, existed in great numbers, in fact probably more so, and who were nevertheless rich, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven. 

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Following a God who died in public execution style, hanging from a cross, beaten and naked, is foolishness, no?  Not to the believer.

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

Sermon delivered at Lutheran Church of the Cross in Berkeley. 

January 25, 2017 - Fourth Wednesday after Epiphany

"Foolishness of the Cross".  Text is from 1 Corinthians 1:18-31

The mystery of Christ not only declares that we are reconciled to God by the divine grace of God's son, Jesus Christ, but we are also reconciled to one another. 

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. 

January 3, 2016 - Epiphany Sunday 

"Revelation and Reconciliation".  Text is from Ephesians 3:1-12


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

What bright morning star leads three foreign astrologers to the manger in which the newborn Christ lies? And what an amazing and odd story that we celebrate on the Epiphany; because these three men were not of the Jewish faith, no, in fact practitioners of acts that the devout Jew would find offensive, the divination of things to come by virtue of the skies.  So why include this story of the arrival of these three wise men from afar to bear witness to the newborn king? This is an account three pagan Gentiles bearing gifts to be witness to the one who is to come and lead all into glory and reconciliation with God. 


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.

Sermon notes from 2nd Sunday after Epiphany (Year C) 


Text for Epiphany +2: John 2:1-11


Click here for an Audio of Sermon


Something has been weighing on my mind over the last couple of weeks. I've had some encounters that have been taking up a lot of real estate in my head.


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Last week I was getting on the BART at Civic Center station. Didn't think about it.


Tuesday, I got off at Macarthur. $16 ticket for 8 dollars. I began to get angry as I walked off.


Now, I have no clue where this BART pass came from. I mean, after all, he could be an ordinary person who made a serious mistake and needed the cash. But having been involved with people in need, no, having been in need myself, I know that people give out BART tickets regularly...

Sermon for Epiphany / 01/06/2013

Audio of Sermon is available here 

Sermon text: Matthew 2:1-12

Happy Epiphany!

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While kids are already back in school, while people have returned from Christmas vacation, while the after-Christmas sales have been going on for many days now, here in the church, we have only just last night left Christmas season and entered into the new season of Epiphany.

And yet, how is it that Epiphany begins? With our celebration of the the great revelation that teaks place when wise men, Magi, gentiles, really; arrive from the east to bow down in the house of where the newly born messiah is living.

The magi in our passage, the wise men from either Babylonia, Persia, maybe even India have divined that something great is going to be happening. These men aren't Hebrews, they don't even possess characteristics marking good Hebrew practice. The very word magi comes from the same root as magic. they see signs in the sky, in the stars, and the alignment of the planet. They practice divination, they read dreams. And yet, the God of Israel is leading these outsiders to find the one who will free the world from sin and bondage. They have faith and find their way, with highly valued gifts.


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