Russell Pregeant

5th Sunday in Lent

March 21, 2010
See Also: 

Lenten Candle Liturgy

Preaching Lent/Easter I
Preaching Lent/Easter II
Preaching Lent/Easter III

John Cobb on atonement
John Cobb on redemption
John Cobb on Jesus
Biblical Preaching on the Death of Jesus (Cobb)

Reading 1: 
Isaiah 43:16-21
Reading 2: 
Psalm 126
Reading 3: 
Philippians 3:4b-14
Reading 4: 
John 12:1-8
By Russell Pregeant

The readings from the Hebrew Scriptures and Philippians have in common a theme dear to the heart of process thinkers—transformation. In describing his transition from his former faith to his new life in Christ in Philippians 3, Paul is able to look upon his past accomplishments and see them as “rubbish” (v. 8)—the NRSV’s polite translation of the Greek skubalon, a strong term that embraces such meanings as human excrement, filth, or dirt. The danger for preachers in stressing this point is that it might foster anti-Judaism.

4th Sunday in Lent

March 14, 2010
See Also: 

Lenten Candle Liturgy

Preaching Lent/Easter I
Preaching Lent/Easter II
Preaching Lent/Easter III

John Cobb on atonement
John Cobb on redemption
John Cobb on Jesus
Biblical Preaching on the Death of Jesus (Cobb)



Reading 1: 
Joshua 5:9-12
Reading 2: 
Psalm 32
Reading 3: 
2 Corinthians 5:16-21
Reading 4: 
Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32
By Russell Pregeant

The readings for this Sunday are a virtual goldmine of texts expressing the related themes of the grace of God, forgiveness, and reconciliation. The passage from 2 Corinthians celebrates the new creation in which those in Christ participate and proclaims the divine-human reconciliation effected through Christ. Psalm 32 celebrates the joy of one whose sins are forgiven (vv. 1-2, 7, 11), contrasting the spiritual uplift that genuine confession brings (v.5) with the burdensome weight of sin (v.

3rd Sunday in Lent

March 7, 2010
See Also: 

Lenten Candle Liturgy

Preaching Lent/Easter I
Preaching Lent/Easter II
Preaching Lent/Easter III

John Cobb on atonement
John Cobb on redemption
John Cobb on Jesus
Biblical Preaching on the Death of Jesus (Cobb)



Reading 1: 
Isaiah 55:1-9
Reading 2: 
Psalm 63:1-8
Reading 3: 
1 Corinthians 10:1-13
Reading 4: 
Luke 13:1-9
By Russell Pregeant

The passage from Luke begins with people telling Jesus about Pilate’s murder of a group of Galileans who were offering sacrifices. One might expect Jesus to have condemned Pilate’s action, but instead he uses the incident as a teaching opportunity to make his own point. The rhetorical question in v.

Proper 29 - Reign of Christ

November 21, 2010
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
Jeremiah 23:1-6
Reading 2: 
Psalm 46
Reading 3: 
Colossians 1:11-20
Reading 4: 
Luke 23:33-43
By Russell Pregeant

The gospel and epistle readings for this Sunday are linked through the themes of divine forgiveness and the death of Jesus. In some ways, however, they reflect contrasting theological perspectives.

Proper 28

November 14, 2010
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
Isaiah 65:17-25
Reading 3: 
2 Thessalonians 3:6-13
Reading 4: 
Luke 21:5-19
By Russell Pregeant

This Sunday’s reading is a portion of an apocalyptic discourse that Jesus delivers just prior to the beginning of Luke’s passion narrative. The discourse as a whole prefaces Jesus’ death with a preview of the events his followers will face before his return as the Son of Man. It is, on the one hand, a word of warning, because of the great distress that is to come. It is also, however, a word of hope and encouragement, for the drama will end not in tragedy but in the revelation of Jesus as the victorious Son of Man (21:25-28).

Proper 27

November 7, 2010
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
Haggai 1:15b-2:9
Reading 2: 
Psalm 145:1-5, 17-21
Reading 3: 
2 Thessalonians 1:1-5, 13-17
Reading 4: 
Luke 20:27-38
By Russell Pregeant

This Sunday’s gospel reading, the Sadducees’ question about the resurrection, is the last of three verbal contests between Jesus and the Jerusalem leaders. The series begins with 20:1-7, where the chief priests, scribes and elders challenge his authority. In the second contest (20:2-26), which immediately precedes the Sadducees’ question, these same leaders send spies to trick Jesus into making a treasonous statement with their question about paying taxes to the emperor.

2nd Sunday in Lent

February 28, 2010
See Also: 

Lenten Candle Liturgy

Preaching Lent/Easter I
Preaching Lent/Easter II
Preaching Lent/Easter III

John Cobb on atonement
John Cobb on redemption
John Cobb on Jesus
Biblical Preaching on the Death of Jesus (Cobb)

Reading 1: 
Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18
Reading 2: 
Psalm 27
Reading 3: 
Philippians 3:17-4:1
Reading 4: 
Luke 13:31-35
By Russell Pregeant

The Gospel of Luke, as is well known, lacks a notion of the atonement. Although it emphasizes Jesus’ death and resurrection, there is nothing in Luke that suggests the redemptive character of these events. Nor is it legitimate to argue that this motif is implicit.

1st Sunday in Lent

February 21, 2010
See Also: 

Lenten Candle Liturgy

Preaching Lent/Easter I
Preaching Lent/Easter II
Preaching Lent/Easter III

John Cobb on atonement
John Cobb on redemption
John Cobb on Jesus
Biblical Preaching on the Death of Jesus (Cobb)

Resource Packet for Families

Reading 1: 
Deuteronomy 26:1-11
Reading 2: 
Psalm 91:1-2, 9-16
Reading 3: 
Romans 10:8b-13
Reading 4: 
Luke 4:1-13
By Russell Pregeant

The Gospel reading, Luke’s version of the temptation of Jesus, is a rich text that is classically suited for the beginning of Lent. As Luke T. Johnson comments, the three specific temptations Jesus faces have to do with “the seizure of palpable power” and “would suggest to the Hellenistic reader the threefold categories of vice: love of pleasure, love of possessions, love of glory.” (The Gospel of Luke. Sacra Pagina Series, Vol. 3, p. 76).

Christmas - Proper 3

December 25, 2006
See Also: 

John Cobb on Incarnation

Daniel Day Williams on Incarnation

Reading 1: 
Isaiah 52:7-10
Reading 2: 
Psalm 98
Reading 4: 
John 1:1-14
By Russell Pregeant

There are aspects of the first chapter of the Gospel of John that are particularly process-friendly. John 1 is, of course, the incarnation text par excellence. What makes it so amenable to a process interpretation is that the incarnation of the Logos in the person of Jesus is not simply the invasion of a reality that is alien to the world; it stands, rather, in continuity with the presence of the Logos in all creation.

3rd Sunday of Advent

December 17, 2006
See Also: 

John Cobb on Incarnation
Daniel Day Williams on Incarnation

Reading 1: 
Zephaniah 3:14-20
Reading 3: 
Philippians 4:4-7
Reading 4: 
Luke 3:7-18
Alt Reading 1: 
Isaiah 12:2-6
By Russell Pregeant

If the gospel texts for last week tended to treat the theme of repentance is somewhat abstract terms, the readings for this Sunday leave no wiggle room at all for those who insist on reducing repentance to its individualistic and pietistic elements. “Bear fruits worthy of repentance,” John proclaims, and then proceeds to concretize those fruits in economic terms as he demands the sharing of goods and honesty in tax collection and then forbids extortion.

2nd Sunday of Advent

December 10, 2006
See Also: 

John Cobb on Incarnation
Daniel Day Williams on Incarnation

Reading 1: 
Malachi 3:1-4
Reading 3: 
Philippians 1:3-11
Reading 4: 
Luke 1:68-79 and Luke 3:1-6
By Russell Pregeant

The two readings from Luke focus on the ministry of John the Baptist. Although the identity of the “messenger” in Malachi 3:1-4 is obscure, the use of this passage in connection with the Lucan texts rests upon two traditions: a strain of Jewish thought in which the messenger was identified with the prophet Elijah who was expected to return, and the relationship between John the Baptist and Elijah expressed in some New Testament writings. Interestingly, however, the New Testament is by no means unanimous on this point.

1st Sunday of Advent

December 3, 2006
See Also: 

John Cobb on Incarnation
Daniel Day Williams on Incarnation

Reading 1: 
Jeremiah 33:14-16
Reading 2: 
Psalm 25:1-10
Reading 3: 
1 Thessalonians 3:9-13
Reading 4: 
Luke 21:25-36
By Russell Pregeant

Apocalyptic texts always present a challenge to process interpreters. Both their assumption regarding a final end to the world process and their presentation of God’s action as supernatural, unilateral, and interventionist run counter to the process vision of God’s endless persuasive interaction with creation. Precisely for this reason, however, these texts also present a golden opportunity for reflection on the polyvalence and open-endedness of biblical language.

Proper 21

September 27, 2009
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
Esther 7:1-6, 9-10, 9:20-22
Reading 2: 
Psalm 124
Reading 3: 
James 5:13-20
Reading 4: 
Mark 9:38-50
By Russell Pregeant

The passage in Mark follows immediately after last week’s gospel reading and continues the theme of arrogance versus humility, although in a distinctive way. In 9:33-37, the twelve were quarreling over who is the greatest, thus illustrating their inability to appropriate Jesus’ message that those who follow a suffering Messiah must be willing to take up their own crosses and live lives characterized by humility rather than self-seeking. Now, in vv. 38-41, John asks what they should do about an exorcist who uses Jesus’ name but is not among their number.

Proper 20

September 20, 2009
See Also: 
Reading 3: 
James 3:13-4:3, 7-8a
Reading 4: 
Mark 9:30-37
By Russell Pregeant

The gospel reading begins with the second of Jesus’ predictions of his death and resurrection and is followed, as are the first and third predictions, by teaching on discipleship. As I noted in the essay on last week’s readings, the three predictions occur in Mark’s central section, which is bracketed by two stories of Jesus’ healing a blind man, which have metaphorical value. In the first healing, after Jesus’ first attempt, the man can see only partially; but the man in the second story gains full sight immediately and follows Jesus.

Proper 19

September 13, 2009
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
Proverbs 1:20-23
Reading 3: 
James 3:1-12
Reading 4: 
Mark 8:27-38
By Russell Pregeant

The gospel reading stands in a pivotal position in the structure of Mark. The central section of the gospel is defined by two stories in which Jesus heals a blind man. The first of these (8:22-26) comes immediately before this week’s lesson, and the second comes in 10:46-52. Between these two incidents, Jesus predicts his death and resurrection three times, and after each prediction he teaches about discipleship.

Proper 18

September 6, 2009
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
Proverbs 22:1-2, 8-9, 22-23
Reading 3: 
James 2:1-10, (11-13), 14-17
Reading 4: 
Mark 7:24-37
By Russell Pregeant

The critical reader may find a rather startling tension between the gospel and epistle lessons for this Sunday. While the reading from James begins with a resounding denunciation of partiality, Mark 7:24-27 depicts Jesus as first refusing help to a Syrophoenician woman on the apparent grounds of religious/ethnic exclusivism—an affront compounded by his use of a derogatory term for Gentiles. In the end, of course, Jesus accedes to the woman’s request and performs an exorcism. And this acceptance of a Gentile is very much in keeping with the thematic structure of Mark.

7th Sunday of Easter

May 24, 2009
See Also: 
Reading 2: 
Psalm 1
Reading 3: 
Acts 1:15-17, 21-26 or 1 John 5:9-13
Reading 4: 
John 17:6-19
By Russell Pregeant

It is crucial, in approaching this week’s gospel lesson, to have an understanding of the dualism that pervades the Johannine writings. This perspective works itself out in terms of pairs of opposites: light/darkness, spirit/flesh, above/below, of this world/not of this world.

6th Sunday of Easter

May 17, 2009
See Also: 
Reading 2: 
Psalm 98
Reading 3: 
Acts 10:44-48 or 1 John 5:1-6
Reading 4: 
John 15:9-17
By Russell Pregeant

The gospel reading continues Jesus’ discourse on himself as the true vine, now introducing the theme of love, which was prominent in last week’s epistle reading. Jesus links discipleship to love, which he commends in the context of the Father’s love for the Son and the Son’s love for the believers. Those who would be disciples must abide in the Son’s love, as he abides in God’s love; and to abide in Jesus’ love means to keep his commandment, which is that they love one another.

5th Sunday of Easter

May 10, 2009
See Also: 
Reading 2: 
Psalm 22:25-31
Reading 3: 
Acts 8:26-40 or 1 John 4:7-21
Reading 4: 
John 15:1-8
By Russell Pregeant

The gospel reading offers a rich blend of the themes of grace/demand, faith/works, and promise/judgment. With respect to grace, faith, and promise, it presents Jesus as the source of empowerment to do the good. Believers “have already been cleansed” by Jesus’ word (15:3), which is to say, they are recipients of God’s grace through Christ. And as branches draw sustenance from the vine, so those who abide in him have access to the power that makes for authentic life, life in relationship with God.

4th Sunday of Easter

May 3, 2009
See Also: 
Reading 2: 
Psalm 23
Reading 3: 
Acts 4:5-12 or 1 John 3:16-24
Reading 4: 
John 10:11-18
By Russell Pregeant

The gospel reading begins (John 10:11) with the Greek phrase, ego eimi (I am), which was used as a formula of self-revelation both of God (in the Septuagint) and of Hellenistic deities.

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