Recently in Pentecost season Category

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. 


Many things happen in border towns. Many boundaries are crossed when people find their way to Jesus' side 

 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 9 - 21st Sunday after Pentecost 

"Boundaries".  Text is from Luke 17:11-19

Click here for sermon audio 






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

Boundaries may be invisible lines in the sand, that prevent us from going from one place to another. But have you ever seen a boundary from a plane? Sometimes, you may spot them...particularly if one place contains a park that ends at the lines of the boundary while there is farmland on the other side, but for the most part, when I'm flying, I can't tell where California ends and Nevada begins, or Utah, or Colorado...

Jesus grants his followers the power to perform miracles, and talks about the expulsion of Satan from heaven. This is the power of angels. But we have the power to do angelic things.  

Note: This sermon was a rerecord done as the recorder did not function on Sunday when It was delivered.  

 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 2 - Michael and All Angels Sunday 

"Angels".  Text is from Luke 10:17-20

Click here for sermon audio 






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

We start with a few short passages from Luke in which Jesus has sent the seventy out and they return with joy, proclaiming that by using his name, even demons would listen to them being cast out.

Here Jesus tells them about having seen Satan cast from heaven, which hearkens back to an older Jewish legend about how Michael and Satan fought and Michael cast Satan down from heaven. And they power that Jesus has given the ones that he has sent out is such that the miracles done in the name of the spirit are done not by the superhuman beings such as Michael and Gabriel but by the people that Jesus had appointed. 

Finally, Jesus tells them not to rejoice in the power that he has given them. That they should instead rejoice that they are destined to join him in the hereafter, the paradise where he resides with Father God and all the other beings of heaven. 

Through the name of Jesus Christ he gives his disciples power, the power to heal and exorcise demons and more important, the power to proclaim the good news in the world that Jesus Christ has come, God has forgiven all people and death holds no more sway over humankind. Such power being exercised by humans is limited, and only through Jesus' will and command. It is the power of beings who many consider to be mythological, but who our scripture tells us about with clarity and purpose. Who are these beings called angels, and what marks our fascination with them, despite our firm conviction that there is only one God in heaven.


What do you expect of slaves? Well, not to be slaves, for one thing. 

Jan Steen - The Bean Feast - WGA21734

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

Sermon delivered at Lutheran Church of the Cross in Berkeley. 

September 28, 2016 - 20th Wednesday after Pentecost

"Twentieth Wednesday after Pentecost".  Text is from Luke 17:5-10

The chasm separating the rich and the poor seems insurmountable just as was the chasm separating the wicked and the good in the Hebrew land of shades. But Jesus is the bridge.

Note: This sermon was a rerecord done as the recorder did not function on Sunday when It was delivered.  

 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. 

September 25 - 19th Sunday after Pentecost

"The Chasm".  Text is from Luke 16:19-31 

Click here for sermon audio 






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

This is a classic parable of Jesus in Luke, and when we approach it it sounds like a classic reversal. Here we have a two significant characters. First we have the rich man. He enjoys all the things life has to offer, and wants for nothing. He has failed, however, to take notice of the suffering even at the gate of his house and has left Lazarus, a poor soul, hungry there, with dogs licking his wounds. As what comes to all mortal men, the both of them die. However, the fortunes are now reversed, as Lazarus, upon his ending, is carried off by angels and received into the land of the dead by Abraham, the patriarch of all the children of Israel. The rich man, however, is condemned into Hades, and suffers unending pain and torment. 

Crying out to Abraham, the rich man wishes for some small favor, that he send poor Lazarus with the slightest bit of water to quench his thirst. Having been refused that, because of the distance of the chasm, that the patriarch send Lazarus to warn his brothers against the life that caused he himself to find torment. Abraham says it is impossible, if they are not swayed by Moses, and the words of the prophets like we heard from Amos this morning, a dead man rising up would not make any difference. 

So one thing that we find in this passage is that even in death, the rich man is entitled. He doesn't appear to be overly remorseful of his behavior, and even fails to acknowledge Lazarus directly, but continues to expet Lazarus to serve his needs. Abraham, bid Lazarus to quench my thirst. Abraham bid Lazarus to warn my brothers. At first glance it appears that the rich man has earned his comeuppance. He did not even see Lazarus in life, he failed to acknowledge the suffering at his doorstep, and even in suffering fails to see his own culpability, choosing to objectify Lazarus and not see him as a human being. 

The gospel is for everyone. Even rich people. 

30 pieces of silver.jpg

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

Sermon delivered at Lutheran Church of the Cross in Berkeley. 

September 21, 2016 - 19th Wednesday after Pentecost

"Nineteenth Wednesday after Pentecost".  Text is from 1 Timothy 6:6-19  

The message of the cross is foolishness to those who don't believe. And it really seems to be absurd when you look at it.  

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

Sermon delivered at Lutheran Church of the Cross in Berkeley. 

September 14, 2016 - Holy Cross Day

"Seventeenth Wednesday after Pentecost".  Text is from 1 Corinthians 1:18-24 

We cry when we lose things. We are joyful when we discover things we'd lost. God cries when God loses us. God is super joyful when we are found.

 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. 

September 11 - 17th Sunday after Pentecost

"Lost and Rescued".  Text is from Luke 15-1-10

Click here for sermon audio  



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

Jesus is offering us a parable which is kind of a double parable, essentially outlining the same thing in both parts. 

It is a classic response to complaining Pharisees about the invitation Jesus had extended to tax collectors and sinners (and I love how Luke described it, as if tax collector was a different category of sin unto itself). Luke allows us to remember that tax collectors were not simply sinners but people...Jewish people who collaborated with the Roman authorities. They grumble as they always do about the way Jesus conducts himself. Imagine this holy messiah who they've been told that Jesus is, and Jesus has done nothing to dissuade that belief, but rather than hang out with the important Jewish folk like the priests and Levites, kings and other synagogue leaders, Jesus surrounds himself with the likes of these. 

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