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Sermon delivered to Christ Church Lutheran
April 7, 2013 - 2nd Sunday of Easter (C)

"Doubt" - Text from John 20:19-31

Doubting Thomas.jpgChrist has risen. Holy Week is over, all the work that led up to it can be put away. Now we can move onto other things, right? Well, not quite, and who would want to? Easter is a time of celebration for our glorious savior has returned and will raise us up in his kingdom. And we continue to proclaim that Christ has risen not one Sunday, but for the following 50 days, we get to go on living within his wondrous resurrection.

The Easter Season is about a remembrance and it is about the now and it is about the future of humankind. We are pointing in the forward direction in anticipation of that blessed event while at the same time looking back on it. And each successive Sunday in Easter we reflect on the never-ending story of the resurrection of our Lord and savior, and the season serves to position us in relation to the living God in the world now while pointing us to the glorious future to come.

Sermon delivered to Christ Church Lutheran
March 29, 2013 - Good Friday

"The Empty Cross?" - Text from John 18:1-19:42 

 You should listen to the delivered sermon. The text is provided below for convenience, but as with any delivered sermon, I go off the text as the spirit leads me. 

Just this morning I got onto the BART train on the way here and listened to an altercation between a man in a wheelchair and another man who was carrying his backpack on his back, completely unaware that it was in the face of the other man. I have to admit, it annoys me as well when trains get crowded and people fail to realize that carrying their backpacks creates more of a sense of crowdedness. Although the backpacked man moved an the other wouldn't let it go, persisting in commentary about how rude others are. He was in the place of a disabled person in a world of able privilege, and ready to challenge anyone who would get in the way of his entitlement. Of his victimhood.

"Passion" - Sermon for Palm Sunday 2013

Sermon text: Luke 22:14-23:56

Click for link to audio version

Passion Sunday Childrens Sermon.JPG

Today is the day we remember the Passion of Christ And what does this word, passion mean to any of us, though? Many people of a certain age will see the word "Passion" and think of a Rod Stewart song from the 1980s or a perfume in a black bottle hawked by Elizabeth Taylor. Both the song and the perfume evoke a sense of the word passion that is much more in use and familiar to English speaking people in the world, that involves a desire centered around love and physical contact between two people. But this use of the word to which we've become accustomed bespeaks only a portion of the meaning of the word in English.

The English word passion is usually defined as any great, strong, powerful emotion, frequently romantic love or hate. While we think about passion for another human being, but we can also talk about a passion for a sport, like baseball. A passion for music, a passion for coin collecting, or birdwatching, or skiing. A passion for preaching or a passion for etymological meaning of English words. What's important to understand in this sense is that it involves an intensity of emotion, a feeling so strong that it can impact the long-term well-being of the person who is feeling it, maybe even change their lives for the better or worse.

"The Lamentful and Diligent Son" - Sermon for the 4th Sunday in Lent 2013

Sermon text: Luke 15:1-3,11-32

Click for link to audio version

Today is the 4th Sunday in Lent, and today's Gospel reading has often been considered to be one of the most well loved parables in the gospels. This is a parable that I'm sure nearly everyone here is familiar with, a parable that is generally referred to as "The Prodigal Son."

Here, Jesus is telling everyone who has come near to him, the tax collectors, the scribes, the Pharisees, all those who are listening about a son who asked for his inheritance from his father, then takes off and squanders all of it, goes and leads a life of disrepute, winds up destitute, then finally comes to his senses and he remembers that even the people who work for his father have it much better than he does. And surely, even if his father doesn't forgive him, he will most certainly employ him. So the son comes back to beg for his father's forgiveness, and lo and behold, to his surprise, his father not only takes him back with open arms, he decides to throw celebration in honor of his return.

Now, we could stop there when we recount this parable--after all, it's commonly referred to as "the Prodigal Son" and if we do stop there we can certainly use the parable as an exemplar that the father represents God and that God forgives us of anything without hesitation, no matter what. We admit our wrongdoing, accept his forgiveness, and join in the celebration. There you have it.

But titling this parable, "The Prodigal Son" doesn't do complete justice, in fact it relegates the father in a more passive role. I've even heard it referred to as the "Prodigal Father", which can certainly give us a greater emphasis on the one who is in the central place in the parable. But there's more than that even than just a lost son returning home and a loving father giving him forgiveness.

"Promises and Expectations" - Second Sunday in Lent

Sermon text: Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18

Click for link to audio version

Last week I made plans to meet someone for lunch, and I went out to Church Street they canceled on me.

God keeps his promises.

Abram is already somewhat advanced in years and had become settled in his life, resigned to the fact that he and his barren wife would produce no heirs, God promised Abram that he would have as many children as the stars in the sky. (Now for those of you who don't get out of San Francisco, out into the open land away from city lights, the night sky is a pretty incredible sight, but I think everyone gets what this means). And despite what his any reasonable logic would tell him, were telling him, Abram believed God. Abram believed God and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.

And this despite the fact that Abram would never live to see this promise fulfilled, he had faith in the promise that God made. Knowing that he couldn't possibly live to see that promise fulfilled. Abram believed in it. And so we read that the "Lord reckoned it to him as righteousness.

And so, what does that say about God's promises and our ability to see them bear fruit?

Sermon for Ash Wednesday 2013

Text from Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21


On Sunday we had a reading from Second Corinthians that talked about how Moses veiled his glowing face so that the people of Israel wouldn't have to be exposed to the glory of God in it, but being Christians, when we are filled with the Spirit, we can let our light shine into the world. In the sermon, Pastor Steve talked about being out as a Christian, letting people know who we are. In fact we had some experience with that today, offering Ashes to go to people on the street at 9th and Irving and at Market and Castro.

When we do things that a Christian is supposed to do, it lets people know who Christians are, a way of sharing the good news with others who are not in our little church community, a form of evangelism.

But now I've heard, as we've been approaching Ash Wednesday, people who look at this Gospel reading for today and say, wait a minute, this sounds like a completely different message than what we've been talking about? What does Jesus mean by doing these things in secret? What has this got to do with putting ashes on our forehead?

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.


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...

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I *am* Cary Bass-Deschenes
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