Process Theology

Easter Sunday

April 4, 2010
See Also: 

Lenten Candle Liturgy
Lenten Benedictions/Commissioning/Blessings

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 2: 
Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24
Reading 3: 
1 Corinthians 15:19-26 or Acts 10:34-43
Reading 4: 
John 20:1-18
By Bruce G. Epperly

Christ the Lord is Risen today! How do we speak these words in a pluralistic, scientific age? How do we share the resurrection as a global witness in a time in which many suspect any universal religious messages? How do we, as Wendell Barry says, “practice resurrection” without denying our personal and corporate economic uncertainty, the threat of violence on a mass scale, and the realities of global climate change and the end of human life as we know it? Resurrection is not for the faint-hearted; but for people whose stature enables them to affirm life in the midst of death.

Holy Saturday

April 3, 2010
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
Lamentations 3:1-9, 19-24
Reading 2: 
Psalm 31:1-4, 15-16
Reading 3: 
1 Peter 4:1-8
Reading 4: 
John 19:38-42
By Bruce G. Epperly

Holy Saturday is the most neglected day in Holy Week. The celebrations of Palm Sunday, give way to the Last Supper of Holy Thursday, and the searing pain of Good Friday. On Holy Saturday, nothing happens. On Holy Saturday, we experience the silence of death. We don’t know whether the death of Jesus will be a tragedy, a hopeless defeat, or a comedy, an unexpected happy ending.

Good Friday

March 25, 2005
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
Isaiah 52:13-53:12
By Joseph A. Bracken

In many respects, Good Friday for Christians is like Yom Kippur for Jews: a day of asking forgiveness for one’s sins of the past and promising to lead a better life with the help of divine grace in the future. Yet, beneficial as these rituals of atonement may be for one’s personal spiritual life, they still sometimes raise questions about our ongoing relationship to God. Does God require specific penitential practices as a condition of offering us forgiveness for our sins?

Good Friday

April 14, 2006
See Also: 

Lenten Candle Liturgy
Lenten Benedictions/Commissioning/Blessings

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 52:13–53:12
Reading 2: 
Psalm 22
Reading 3: 
Hebrews 10:16-25 or Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9
Reading 4: 
John 18:1-19:42
By John B. Cobb, Jr.

The lectionary readings for this day are lengthy, including two chapters from the Gospel of John. These constitute a deeply moving account of how an innocent man was unjustly convicted, executed, and buried. It has been read by hundreds of millions of people and has deepened their devotion. Much sacrificial and loving action has come about because of its effects. Verse by verse it is a rich source of homiletical material.

Good Friday

April 6, 2007
See Also: 

Year A
Year B
Year C

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

Back in Print:
Biblical Teaching on the Death of Jesus

Reading 1: 
Isaiah 52:13–53:12
Reading 2: 
Psalm 22
Reading 3: 
Hebrews 10:16–25
Reading 4: 
John 18:1–19:42
By Paul S. Nancarrow

On this day, the liturgical reading of scripture is centered on the solemn proclamation of the Johannine Passion. While the passages from Isaiah and the Psalter and Hebrews of course have their own integrity in their own contexts, on this day, for Christians, they are interpreted in the field of force of John’s account of the crucifixion. Our commentary, therefore, begins with the passage from John.

Good Friday

April 10, 2009
Reading 1: 
Isaiah 52:13-53:12
Reading 2: 
Psalm 22
Reading 3: 
Hebrews 10:16-25 or Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9
Reading 4: 
John 18:1-19:42
By Russell Pregeant

The alternative epistle reading, Hebrews 4:14-16, 5:7-9, provides an interesting and potentially fruitful counterpoint to John’s passion narrative. Hebrews and the Gospel of John were both major sources of the eventual development of the doctrine of the two natures of Christ. There is, however, little indication of Jesus’ humanity in John’s account of his arrest and trial. There is no hint of the agony in Gethsemane portrayed in the synoptics, and throughout the story Jesus seems to be the one in control of the unfolding events.

Good Friday

April 2, 2010
See Also: 

Lenten Candle Liturgy
Lenten Benedictions/Commissioning/Blessings

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 52:13-53:12
Reading 2: 
Psalm 22
Reading 3: 
Hebrews 10:16-25
Reading 4: 
John 18:1-19:42
By Bruce G. Epperly

Let’s be honest. Many progressive and moderate pastors don’t like to preach Good Friday sermons. Good Friday is the low point in Holy Week, especially if you’re not a cross-centered evangelical or have problems with the violence inherent in many traditional atonement theories. There’s nothing to celebrate, the story is predictable (we’ve heard it so many times and seldom discover anything new in it), and we struggle to find alternatives to the popular belief that Jesus was predestined to physically die for our sins, stand in our place, and suffer on our behalf.

Palm Sunday/Passion Sunday

April 4, 2004
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
Isaiah 50:4-9a
Reading 2: 
Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29
Reading 3: 
Philippians 2:5-11
Reading 4: 
Luke 19:28-40
By George Pixley

This being Palm Sunday, it is hardly surprising that thetexts have quite evidently been chosen from those cited or suggested in the narration of the entry into Jerusalem the first day of that week, the last in the earthly life of Jesus. However, the ways in which they should be read are not all as straightforward as might at first appear to be the case.

Palm Sunday/Passion Sunday

April 1, 2007
See Also: 

Year A
Year B
Year C

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

Reading 2: 
Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29
Reading 4: 
Luke 19:28-40
By Ignacio Castuera

It is interesting to note that the people who craft the Lectionary feel free to have a reading from the Gospel of John on the Fifth Sunday in Lent and then again on Easter Sunday but do not do it on Palm Sunday. John is the only Gospel that mentions palms, so it is strange that we do not have here the reading from that Gospel.

Palm Sunday/Passion Sunday

March 28, 2010
See Also: 

Lenten Candle Liturgy
John Cobb on redemption
Biblical Preaching on the Death of Jesus (Cobb)

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

Reading 2: 
Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29
Reading 4: 
Luke 19:28-40
By Russell Pregeant

Palm Sunday gets its name from the Gospel of John’s version of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem (John 12:13), which is the only account that mentions palm branches. In Matthew (21:8) and Mark (11:8), the people in the crowds spread branches on the road before him, but they are not specified as palm. What is distinctive about Luke in this regard is that no branches are mentioned at all. Luke preserves Mark’s notation about people spreading their cloaks and even repeats it, but the reference to branches is missing altogether. How do we account for this?

5th Sunday in Lent

April 1, 2001
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 Barry A. Woodbridge

The Lenten journey from desert temptation, to Jerusalem, to the Cross is propelled by a dramatic confluence of images between the lections in the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament this week. This fifth Sunday in Lent brings an unusually opportune time to read and preach inclusively from all four texts and not just the familiar story line of the gospel text.

5th Sunday in Lent

March 28, 2004
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
Isaiah 43:16-21
Reading 2: 
Psalm 126
Reading 3: 
Philippians 3:4b-14
Reading 4: 
John 12:1-8
By George Pixley

If there is a common thread among the passages in the lectionary for this fifth Sunday of Lent it is thanksgiving, though the Philippians does not fit there. The two Old Testament texts are thanksgiving texts, and the story of Mary’s purchase of the precious ointment for Jesus means, among other things, her thanks for his friendship and the salvation he has brought to her family in restoring Lazarus to them.

5th Sunday in Lent

March 25, 2007
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
Isaiah 43:16-21
Reading 2: 
Psalm 126
Reading 3: 
Philippians 3:4b-14
Reading 4: 
John 12:1-8
By Ignacio Castuera

There are so many themes that jump at us from the texts this Sunday that one might be tempted to preach a very long sermon taking each text as the point of departure for “mini-sermons.” That, by the way, is one model that could be tried. Have a lay person, a woman preferably since this is Women’s History Month, comment briefly and sing a hymn. Repeat the process four times and you will find that several people will like the pattern and might want you to repeat it. You might consider just a “triptych” selecting three out of the four texts for this Sunday.

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 25, 2001
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 3: 
2 Corinthians 5:16-21
Reading 4: 
Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32
By John B. Cobb, Jr.

Both of these passages offer rich fare for preaching. I will comment only on one point. What does Paul mean when he writes to the Corinthians that he no longer views people "according to the flesh" or "from a human point of view"? Does he offer us a way of being in the world to which we should respond? Or is his vision illusory and even dangerous? For Paul, conversion meant putting on a new pair of glasses. He had earlier lived in a world from which God was largely absent, a world that hoped for a great change with the coming of the Messiah.

4th Sunday in Lent

March 18, 2007
See Also: 
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 Ignacio Castuera

Last Sunday’s theme is intensified in this week’s lessons. The open ended character of the Gospel’s lessons last week is replaced with the clear reference to the forgiving and loving nature of God.

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 18, 2001
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 3: 
1 Corinthians 10:1-5
Reading 4: 
Luke 13:1-9
By John B. Cobb, Jr.

The Jewish scriptures tell many stories about the sins of ancient Hebrews. The absence of the celebrative emphasis, so common in national histories, is truly remarkable. It also provides occasion for warning the early Christians, and us who are readers of the same Bible, not to fall into the sins that were common in the old days.

3rd Sunday in Lent

March 14, 2004
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
Isaiah 55:1-9
Reading 2: 
Psalm 63:1-8I
Reading 3: 
1 Corinthians 10:1-13
Reading 4: 
Luke 13:1-9
By George Pixley

If we look for a common thread in the readings for the third Sunday in Lent, that thread seems to be the judgment and the mercy of the Lord. This was a major point of contention when the Christian way, the following of Jesus, was taking shape in the Second Century of the Common Era. In the middle of this century the “Christian” congregations were divided down the middle over whether God was merciful or whether God was both merciful and judgmental.

3rd Sunday in Lent

March 11, 2007
See Also: 
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 Ignacio Castuera

The texts for this third Sunday in Lent speak mightily to the situation in which we find ourselves in the center of the Empire. As national budgets are discussed and as personal budgets are decided we need to keep at the center of our thinking the words of Isaiah: Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread and your labor for that which does not satisfy?

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