By Rev. J. Carl Gregg
Pentecost, Year B
14 After John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, 15 and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news." 16 As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea -- for they were fishermen. 17 And Jesus said to them, "Follow me and I will make you fish for people." 18 And immediately they left their nets and followed him. 19 As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. 20 Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him.
1 When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place.2 And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.
This sermon is dedicated to those who plowed the path before me, among them William James and his godfather Ralph Waldo Emerson; Walter Rauschenbusch and his grandson Richard Rorty; as well as Stanley Hauerwas, Wendell Berry, John Dominic Crossan, Sallie McFague, and Rita Nakashima Brock. As the 12th-century philosopher Bernard of Chartres said, "we are like dwarfs on the shoulders of giants, so that we can see more than they, and things at a greater distance, not by virtue of any sharpness of sight on our part, or any physical distinction, but because we are carried high and raised up by their giant size."
I have titled this sermon "Pluralism, Pragmatism, Progressivism: Reflecting on Ten Years of Theological Training." (An alternative title I considered is, "I'm a glutton for punishment!") The occasion is that two weeks ago I graduated from the Diploma in the Art of Spiritual Direction program at San Francisco Theological Seminary. I have also completed the coursework for the second part of the dual-degree program in which I am enrolled: the Doctor of Ministry. I am currently working on my dissertation, which I hope to complete within the next two years.