2019 Sermons

Threats and Guidance

Matthew 2:13-23

December 29th, 2019

Rev. John W. Monroe III

The entrance of Christ in the world was with both great threat and divine guidance. Is this true for the entrance of Christ in and through us?

A New Kind of Time

Isaiah 9:2-7; Psalm 96; Titus 2:11-14 and Luke 2:1-14

December 24nd, 2019

Rev. John W. Monroe III

Some are learning time is not merely sequential and measurable. It speaks not only to quantity, but also to quality. Time is an expression of eternity and in time eternity’s quality can be experienced. Christ’s birth invites us to this intersection of time and timelessness.

Our Resistance to Good News

Romans 1:1-7; Matthew 1:18-25

December 22nd, 2019

Rev. John W. Monroe III

Paul announces the birth of a new and universal era of grace, which we still resist receiving. Joseph struggled to accept the good news of Mary’s pending birth. How, too, are we resistant to good news?

Learning to Stay Awake

Matthew 24:36-44

December 1st, 2019

Rev. John W. Monroe III

For most of us, our focus is small and self-referential. We avoid seeing what we do not want to see. In this passage, Jesus is not talking so much about the end off time as he is about the possibility for humans to awaken to the depth dimensions of life.

Life that Death Cannot Teach

Colossians 1:11-20; Luke 23:33-43

November 24th, 2019

Rev. John W. Monroe III

Christ is the source and end of all creation. Christ in flesh is vulnerable to suffering and death, yet Christ is not extinguished. Christ is in Jesus and also in us and in all things. Can we find Christ in us which hold all things together?

New Earth, Old Earth?

Isaiah 65:17-25; Luke 21:5-19

November 17th, 2019

Rev. John Monroe

Isaiah presents a vision of an ideal, new earth of health and peace. Jesus speaks of a time of violence and collapse in which spiritual faithfulness will be opposed. What vision shapes us most? Must the old die in order for the new to come?

Money, Family, and Faith

Haggai 1:15b-2:9 and Luke 20:27-38

November 10th, 2019

Rev. John Monroe

Anything can become an idol for us. In fact, human realities which serve important functions are especially candidates for idolatry. These readings introduce three candidates – money, family and faith, Beware.

Faith, Justice, Vision

Habakkuk 1:1-4,2:1-4, 2 Thessalonians 1:1-4,11-12; Luke 19:1-10

November 3rd, 2019

Rev. Sue Smith

Dying Before We Die

2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18; Luke 18:9-14

October 27th, 2019

Rev. John W. Monroe, III

If our culture had a motto, it might be living before we die. For Jesus and Paul, the motto might be dying before we die. Their belief and experience was that in giving away the self in love, true life is found.

The Prayer of Transformation

Jeremiah 31:27-34; Luke 18:1-8

October 20th, 2019

Rev. John W. Monroe, III

Longing and desire for more in prayer and the search for God is not for the purpose of convincing God to change God’s mind about us, but in order to bring us to a place of inner transformation, where what we truly long for becomes possible.

The Sacrament of Life

Jeremiah 29:1, 4-7; Luke 17:11-19

October 13th, 2019

Rev. John W. Monroe, III

Both readings point to the blessedness of the present, even when it may not be what we want. Practicing gratitude helps to make our experience of life sacred, or eucharistic.

The Decentered Self

Lamentations 1:1-6; Luke 17:5-10

October 6th, 2019

Rev. John W. Monroe, III

Lamentations confronts us with the reality of suffering and loss and sin. Luke confronts us with the reality of who we are. They work to decenter our small selves that the seed of something much more expansive can take root.

Good Cop, Bad Cop

Jeremiah 32:1-3a, 6-15 and Luke 16:19-31

September 29th, 2019

Rev. John W. Monroe, III

Prophets who are trying to wake people up have a couple of strategies – to play ‘good cop or bad cop.’ Appeal to hope or to fear. In a stunning reversal of their usual roles, Jeremiah acts as the good cop, appealing to hope. Jesus acts as bad cop, warning of eternal punishment.

Spiritual Shrewdness

Jeremiah 8:18-9:1 and Luke 16:1-13

September 22nd, 2019

Rev. John W. Monroe, III

In one of Jesus’ most provocative and challenging parables, he encourages us to bring the same kind of intentionality and shrewdness to our spiritual lives as we do to our financial dealings.

Why God Prefers Sinners

Jeremiah 4:11-12,22-28; Luke 15:1-10

September 15th, 2019

Rev. John W. Monroe, III

Why all the fuss over the lost sheep and the one lost coin? Shouldn’t we focus on congratulating the found? Or is it the case that until we see our lostness, we will remain so, thinking all the while that we need to rescue?

Love’s Plunge

Jeremiah 18:1-11; Luke 14:25-33

September 8th, 2019

Rev. John W. Monroe, III

We are told by Jeremiah and Jesus of the necessity of giving our hearts and ourselves completely to God – to take love’s plunge, for God has taken the same plunge with us and creation – a complete giving away.

Finding Worth Within

Luke 14:1,7-14

September 1st, 2019

Rev. John W. Monroe, III

Jesus’ teachings make sense when we see them as an invitation to find a presence within which is connected to God in ways that no external validation or its lack can begin to touch. What freedom for love is offered to us?

Attitude of Gratitude

Hosea 11: 1-11 and Luke 12: 13-21

August 4th, 2019

Rev. Sue Smith

In today’s world we are confronted by issues of justice everyday. Can the practice of gratitude help us respond as Christians.

Longing for God

Hosea 1:2-10; Luke 11:1-13

July 28th, 2019

Rev. John W. Monroe, III

A true and transformative encounter with God begins with deep longing and searching. Without this longing, the ego will remain firmly in charge and block spiritual fruitfulness. This deep desire for God which leads to letting go of self-preoccupation can be trusted.

Religion Beyond Ego

Amos 8:1-12; Luke 10:38-43

July 21st, 2019

Rev. John W. Monroe, III

Our biblical tradition knows that people are attracted to religion which serves ego needs. In doing so, it can hold up ritual while neglecting and despising the poor. Or it can busy itself with work while neglecting and despising the inner work of the soul.

The Humble Nature of God’s Love

Amos 7:7-17; Luke 10:25-37

July 14th, 2019

Rev. John W. Monroe, III

Amos and Jesus communicate challenge to their people. They speak truths that their people do not want to hear. Is it kinder for us to speak false comfort or challenging truth? Is seeing the truth about ourselves humbling? Is a humbled state the necessary condition for us to experience true life?

The Peaceable Kingdom

Luke 10:1-11,16-20

July 7th, 2019

Rev. John W. Monroe, III

Obviously, Jesus was interested in starting a movement – sending seventy out in pairs to spread the word about a different way of being. Do we know of a different way of being in the world and how might we spread the word, seek allies and deal with demonic forces?

The Measure of Spirit

Galatians 5:1,13-25; Luke 9:51-62

June 30th, 2019

Rev. John W. Monroe, III

Jesus and Paul are both describing and offering a new way of being human – life in the kingdom of God, life in the spirit. Both let go of the concerns of ego or “flesh” so that new fruit can be born in and through us. As we examine the fruit of ego and flesh and the fruit of Spirit, how are we measuring up?

A Fearful Freedom

Galatians 3:23-29; Luke 8:26-39

June 23rd, 2019

Rev. John W. Monroe, III

Paul writes of an age of faith, marked by freedom from the law, which relativizes all human distinctions. Jesus’ profound healing offers a new freedom which frightens many. Are we able to step into the freedom offered by Jesus and let go of our fear?

A Sixth Sense

Psalm 8; John 16:12-15

June 16th, 2019

Rev. John W. Monroe, III

Our natural physical sense opens us to an encounter with the physical universe and its glories. And there is more to see, hear, taste, smell and touch if we develop a sixth sense of spiritual perception.

Words that are True

Acts 2:1-21; John 14:8-17

June 9th, 2019

Rev. John W. Monroe, III

Pentecost points the way to a new era of consciousness and communication – one in which ego-identity is transcended and included, where we speak and listen from a much deeper dimension of self.

Jailhouse Rock

Acts 16:16-34

June 2nd, 2019

Rev. John Monroe

Paul and Silas singing in prison led to a jailbreak. From “Jailhouse Rock” to “Folsom Prison Blues” to “Prisoners of Love”, the people of faith, artists, and comedians have wondered about prison, music and freedom. What get-out-of-jail cards are at our disposal?

If We Let Go of Fear

Acts 16:9-15; John 14:23-29

May 26th, 2019

Rev. John Monroe

The Risen Lord spoke of peace and a release of fear to his followers. The early church’s openness and adventurousness illustrates what a life without fear looks like. Imagine our lives and our world at peace and without fear, fueled by the presence of a deathless love.

When God Leaves the Box

Acts 11:1-18; John 13:31-35

May 19th, 2019

Rev. John Monroe

Jesus led his followers to a path of self-giving love which exploded ego-boundaries and located the self in God’s dynamic presence and action in the world. The early church let go of old understandings of God and the world and lived in dynamic openness and trust.

Seeing Jesus in Us and Others

Psalm 23; John 10:22-30

May 12th, 2019

Rev. John Monroe

Many of his contemporaries did not recognize Jesus as God’s anointed one. He pointed to his works of extraordinary healing and love. Are we drawn to these works of Jesus? Are we able to bring them forth in ourselves and others?

Suffering as Calling

Acts 9:1-20

May 5th, 2019

Rev. John Monroe

Saul of Tarsus experienced a dramatic turn around in his life, which filled him with joy and purpose – and, also, suffering. How is suffering a part of our journey?

Becoming a Witness

Psalm 150; Acts 5:27-32

April 28th, 2019

Rev. John Monroe

In the Greek language, a martyr and witness are one and the same. To become a witness is to give our lives to some greater purpose. Are we giving our lives to something that matters?

How Does It End?

1 Corinthians 15:19-28; John 20:1-18

April 21st, 2019 (Easter Sunday)

Rev. John Monroe

What lies at the end for us? Will our journey make sense, find a higher resolution? Or, will it be a disintegration into nothingness and meaninglessness? Easter offers a vision of ultimate resolution for all disintegration.

Hearing a Stone Sing

Luke 19:28-40; Philippians 2:5-11

April 14th, 2019 (Palm / Passion Sunday)

Rev. John Monroe

Jesus claimed that if he could silence his followers on Palm Sunday, the stones would shout out. Is it possible for us to develop the capacity to “hear” a stone? If we could hear, what might the stones be saying?

Being Present Now

Isaiah 43:16-21; John 12:1-8

April 7th, 2019

Rev. John Monroe

Our focus tends to go to the past and to the future. What is asked of us is to be deeply present to the manifestation of God in the present moment. What would need to happen in us for this capacity of “present-ness” to come alive?

The Pettiness Which Misses Grace

Luke 15:1-3; 11b-32

March 31st, 2019

Rev. John Monroe

Jesus’ life and teachings tell of a grace which redeems and transforms our human condition.  Pettiness and comparison are sure signs that we are blind to the magnitude of God’s grace.