2020 Sermons

The Light That Burns

Galatians 4:4-7 and Luke 2:22-40

Sunday, December 27th, 2020 : 9:45 AM

Rev. John W. Monroe III

Simeon glories in seeing the Christ child, yet foresees opposition to God’s sign, perhaps because as light he will reveal our hidden inner life. God’s intimate presence is joyous and intimidating.

Christmas Eve Service – The Intimacy of God

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

Thursday, December 24th, 2020 : 5:00 & 9:00 PM

Rev. John W. Monroe III

At Christmas, our eyes and hearts are opened to see the miracle of life and human birth as tied to the intimate presence of God among us.

Preparing for God’s Deliverance

Isaiah 40:1-11 and Mark 1:1-8

Sunday, December 6th, 2020 : 9:45 AM

Rev. John W. Monroe III

Both texts sparkle with good news, proclaiming comfort and deliverance from God for us. Now the call for us is to prepare our hearts for this new work of God within and among us.


Music: “Let It Be” by John Lennon & Paul McCartney.

The Cost of Being Called

1 Corinthians 1:3-9 and Mark 13:24-37

Sunday, November 29th, 2020 : 9:45 AM

Rev. John W. Monroe III

We like to think of ourselves as part of those called into God’s fellowship, but the call comes with a cost. It demands a response, a readiness not to coast, not to be unconscious, but always vigilant and awake.


Music: “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.”

The Arc of the Moral Universe

Ezekiel 34:11-16 and Matthew 25:31-46

Sunday, November 22nd, 2020 : 9:45 AM

Rev. John W. Monroe III

Martin Luther King Jr. said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” Is this not what this parable tells us, what the prophet Ezekiel too?


Music: “Blowin’ in the Wind” by Bob Dylan.

Growing the God Gene

Judges 4:1-7 and Matthew 25:14-30

Sunday, November 15th, 2020 : 9:45 AM

Rev. John W. Monroe III

If we think of the talents in this parable as our capacity for spiritual sight and wisdom, then it reads as a warning not to bury this capacity. It takes courage and fortitude to grow our spiritual capacity. How are we doing with this?


Music: “True Colors” by Billy Steinberg & Tom Kelly, Performed by Cindi Lauper.

Like Calls to Like

Joshua 24:1-3a, 14-25 and Matthew 25:1-13

Sunday, November 8th, 2020 : 9:45 AM

Rev. John W. Monroe III

We are made in the image of God and called to likeness with God. The image is a gift. The likeness is our work and decision and cannot be given without our striving. What stands in the way of our move to likeness with God? What may we need to get to find likeness? What may we need to give up?


Music: “Amazing Grace“.

What Are We Becoming?

1 John 3:1-3 and Matthew 5:1-12

Sunday, November 1st, 2020 : 9:45 AM

Rev. John W. Monroe III

These readings point to the nature of our ultimate identity in Christ. Do we find ourselves being led into the qualitied of being of Christlikeness? If not, what changes do we make to more fully embrace our destiny now?


Music: “Bridge Over Troubled Water” by Paul Simon.

Learning to See the Grandeur

Deuteronomy 34:1-12 and Matthew 22:34-46

Sunday, October 25th, 2020 : 9:45 AM

Rev. John W. Monroe III

Moses caught a glimpse of what his work was leading to. Jesus saw the depths of accepted religious truths which most of us reduce to manageable size, making our lives small in the process.


Music: “Here Comes the Sun” by George Harrison.

The Unbearable Weight of Presence

Exodus 33:12-23 and Matthew 22:15-22

Sunday, October 18th, 2020 : 9:45 AM

Rev. John W. Monroe III

John Mark Green wrote, “Grief is love’s shadow. The presence of an absence. An unbearable weight of emptiness.” Perhaps we refuse to encounter life’s depths because we fear its ultimate emptiness. The story of Moses suggests that we might not be able to bear the depth of presence. Therefore, we get seduced by lesser gods like power and wealth.


Music: “Fix You” by Coldplay.

Majoring in Minors

Philippians 4:1-9 and Matthew 22:1-14

Sunday, October 11th, 2020 : 9:45 AM

Rev. John W. Monroe III

This parable shows how blind we are to the true purpose of our lives, which is about soul work. We major in minors, relegating inner work to the fringes of our lives and spending our energies on things which do not truly count or last.


Music: “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” by George Harrison

The Seduction of Self

Philippians 3:4b-14 and Matthew 21:33-46

Sunday, October 4th, 2020 : 9:45 AM

Rev. John W. Monroe III

In Jesus’ parable, we are no more than tenants of all that God has planted – the world and all that lies within it. We have been seduced by the idea that we are masters of the universe, that we answer to no one but ourselves and our desires. Such an illusion is unsustainable.


Music: “Change the World” by Tommy Sims, Gordon Kennedy, and Wayne Kirkpatrick (Recorded by Eric Clapton)

Running on Empty

Philippians 2:1-13 and Matthew 21:23-32

Sunday, September 27th, 2020 : 9:45 AM

Rev. John W. Monroe III

The pattern of Christ is one of emptying and letting go of privilege. We see such a pattern as foolishness. It is the pattern, however, which leads to true life.


Music: “Get Together” by Chet Powers (recorded by The Youngbloods)

Grumbling and Gratitude

Exodus 16:2-15 and Matthew 20:1-16

Sunday, September 20th, 2020 : 9:45 AM

Rev. John W. Monroe III

Life is challenging. Often it does not go according to our desires. Frequently, it seems to us that others have an easier path than we do. We are tempted to grumble. When we are challenged, can we learn to practice gratitude?


Music: “Thank U” by Alanis Morissette and Glen Ballard.

Mirroring Mercy

Romans 14:1-12 and Matthew 18:21-35

Sunday, September 13th, 2020 : 9:45 AM

Rev. John W. Monroe III

Perhaps the reason we have difficulty being gracious to others is that we have not understood the depths of God’s love for us, nor how dependent upon God’s grace we are. Until we see God’s mercy for us it may be difficult for us to mirror God’s mercy for others.


Music: “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” by Elton John and Tim Rice.

Which Side Does God Choose in Conflict?

Exodus 12:1-14 and Matthew 18:15-20

Sunday, September 6th, 2020 : 9:15 AM

Rev. John W. Monroe III

It is one thing to adopt a Christian ideal. It is another thing to put it into practice amid the brokenness which shows up in human communities and human history. How do we live out our Christian faith in times of conflict?


Music: “We Just Disagree” by Jim Krueger (Recorded by Dave Mason).

Prophet and Priest

Exodus 3:1-15; Matthew 16:21-28

Sunday, August 30th, 2020 : 9:15 AM

Rev. Sue Smith

Are we called to prophets or priests or both in balance. The Exodus reading explores one of the great prophet calls in the Old Testament – of Moses to free the Israelites. Is there meaning for using this story? Does it tug us toward prophet or priest or balance?


Music: “Wildflowers” by Dolly Parton

Keys to the Kingdom

Romans 12:1-8; Matthew 16:13-20

Sunday, August 23rd, 2020 : 9:15 AM

Rev. John W. Monroe III

Jesus offers us the Keys to the Kingdom. Is his offer to flatter our egos and desire for power, or is it a recognition that entrance into a new mind, the Kingdom, is always available to us and that we have the Key?


Music: “The Heart of the Matter” by Mike Campbell, Don Henley & J.D. Souther

Standing Up to Jesus

Romans 11:1-2a, 29-32; Matthew 15:21-28

Sunday, August 16th, 2020 : 9:15 AM

Rev. John W. Monroe III

This Canaanite woman stood up to Jesus’ rebuff and won his admiration. What bones do we have to pick with Jesus? Might we be surprised at the consequences if we stand up to Jesus?

Walking on the Waves

Genesis 37:1-4, 12-28; Matthew 14:22-33

Sunday, August 9th, 2020 : 9:15 AM

Rev. John W. Monroe III

Storms are going to come, and we will have to face them. This story has some clues for us staying above the waves when they come.


Music: “Bridge Over Troubled Water” by Paul Simon

The Gift of the Wrestling Angel

Genesis 32:22-31

Sunday, August 2nd, 2020 : 9:15 AM

Rev. John W. Monroe III

Jacob tried to run away from the challenges of his life. Life cannot be escaped. We must learn to face what it brings, or it will keep coming our way. The angels which wrestle with us at night may be our true friends.


Music: “We Are The World” by USA for Africa / M. Jackson / L. Richie

Spiritual Perception

Genesis 29:15-28; Matthew 13:31-33,44-52

Sunday, July 26th, 2020 : 9:15 AM

Rev. John W. Monroe III

In this series of parables, Jesus invites us to see the worth of the kingdom, which is the planting of a new heart within. This is the true prize for which everything else should be sacrificed.


Music: “Heart of Gold” by Neil Young

Growing in Discernment

Genesis 28:10-19a; Matthew 13:24-30,36-43

Sunday, July 19th, 2020 : 9:15 AM

Rev. John W. Monroe III

Jesus’ parable speaks to the spiritual task of discernment, necessary for our growth. Life presents us with choices, some which appear good and turn out not to be so or appear worthless and prove to be of great worth. This life is about learning to discern.


Music: “(I’ve Been) Searchin’ So Long” by James Pankow (Chicago)

Gardening the Soul

Genesis 25:19-34; Matthew 13:1-9,18-23

Sunday, July 12th, 2020 : 9:15 AM

Rev. John W. Monroe III

Jesus describes a reality that all farmers/gardeners would recognize – the perils and possibilities of the planted seed. Soil requires care and attention for seeds to manifest their potential. Just so, our souls. What reception is the seed of God finding in our souls?


Music: “The Sound of Silence” by Paul Simon

Where the Spirit of the Lord Is, There is Freedom

Mark 7:24-37; Mark 10:17-31

Sunday, July 5th, 2020 : 9:15 AM

Rev. Sue Smith

Today we explore the stories of Jesus’ interactions with the Syrophoenician Woman and the Rich Young Man. Do these stories give us any insights into our work in the world today?


Music: “Blowin in the Wind” by Bob Dylan

Slaves of Self?

Genesis 22:1-14; Romans 6:12-23

Sunday, June 28th, 2020 : 9:15 AM

Rev. John W. Monroe III

Paul’s language is off-putting for many. Sin, however, for Paul is deeper than things we do or fail to do. It is all that flows from the illusion of separation and it does enslave us in fear. We are being called to freedom, to a completely new grounding for the self in God.


Music: “Both Sides Now” by Joni Mitchell

The Cost of True Self

Romans 6:1b-11; Matthew 10:24-39

Sunday, June 21st, 2020 : 9:15 AM

Rev. John W. Monroe III

Jesus and Paul are both clear about the cost involved in finding true life, true self. It involves a deep letting go expressed by images of death, cross and loss. Are we ready for the journey to true self?


Music: “True Colors” by Billy Steinberg & Tom Kelly, Performed by Cindi Lauper

The Divine Comedy

Genesis 18:1-15 and Matthew 9:35-10:8

Sunday, June 14th, 2020 : 9:15 AM

Rev. John W. Monroe III

God plan for God’s vision for the world to be accomplished through ordinary people like us. When it dawns on us what God is up to in and through us, a first response may be laughter. God couldn’t be serious, or could God be?


Music: “Blackbird” by John Lennon and Paul McCartney.

Lord of the Dance

2 Corinthians 13:11-13; Matthew 28:16-20

Sunday, June 7th, 2020 : 9:45 AM

Rev. John W. Monroe III

What deep truth is the doctrine of the Trinity trying to communicate? God is a dynamic movement of love. Some theologians have called God a dance of love. God, then, is not an object for our reflection, but a dynamic of an eternal dance of love that we can know only by joining the dance.


Music: “I Hope You Dance” by Mark D. Sanders & Tia Sillers (Recorded by Lee Ann Womak).

A Hole in a Flute

Acts 2:1-21; John 20:19-23

Sunday, May 31st, 2020 : 9:45 AM

Rev. John W. Monroe III

The risen Jesus breathes on the disciples and they receive the Holy Spirit. The word for spirit can also mean wind or breath. Are we filled with Christ’s breath? Hafiz wrote “I am a hole in a flute that the Christ breath moves through. Listen to the music.” What music will Christ breathe through us?


Music: “Blowin’ in the Wind” by Bob  Dylan.

Christ in Us

1 Peter 4:12-14, 5:6-11; John 17:1-11

Sunday, May 24th, 2020 : 9:45 AM

Rev. John W. Monroe III

Jesus prays for us, knowing the difficulties and inevitable sufferings ahead for us. He also prays for us to be one with him and each other. Is there a way in which our suffering is redeemed, a way in which we too participate in the suffering of Christ for the sake of the world?


Music: “Thank U” by Alanis Morissette and Glen Ballard.

Jesus’ Sermon in Hell

1 Peter 3:13-22; John 14:15-21

Sunday, May 17th, 2020 : 9:45 AM

Rev. John W. Monroe III

One of the first acts of the resurrected Jesus was to go to hell to preach to those imprisoned there. What did he say? How many converts did he make? Did he put the devil out of business or are more sermons needed?

Thoughts on the Way

Acts 7:55-60; John 14:1-14

Sunday, May 10th, 2020 : 9:45 AM

Rev. John W. Monroe III

This passage from John has been used to support judgement of others and self-congratulations. Does such a purpose reflect what we see in Jesus in the Gospels? Is it possible that Jesus was talking about his way of humility and love being the only way for us to take in order to find true life? Could he be talking about following him more than believing in him?


Music: “Love Is the Answer” by Todd Rundgren (covered by England Dan and John Ford Coley).

Higher Love

Acts 2:42-47; 1 Peter 2:19-25

Sunday, May 3rd, 2020 : 9:45 AM

Rev. John W. Monroe III

The work of Christ in us is to lift us to a higher love – a higher way of being, in which self-justification and preoccupation are transcended and energy is given to greater concerns and goods. Life in Christ frees us to give ourselves for works of love.


Music: “Lean On Me” by Bill Withers and “Higher Love” by Stevie Winwood and Will Jennings.

From Seeing to Being

Luke 24:13-35

Sunday, April 26th, 2020 : 9:45 AM

Rev. John W. Monroe III

When these two followers finally see the Risen Jesus, he disappears. Perhaps the call is not to look for Jesus outside of us, but to see how Christ is everywhere, even within us and allow Christ to become the center of our inner selves.

Scars and Resurrection

1 Peter 1:3-9; John 20:19-31

Sunday, April 19th, 2020 : 9:45 AM

Rev. John W. Monroe III

Peter writes to resurrection people who still experience suffering. Jesus appears as resurrected, yet still wounded. Does suffering and wounding still have some higher purpose to serve in us?

Learning to See Christ

1 Corinthians 3:1-4; John 20:1-18

Easter Sunday, April 12th, 2020 : 9:45 AM

Rev. John W. Monroe III

It took awhile for Mary and the others to see the risen Jesus. They had to let go of their cognitive habits. In Paul’s language, our attachment to our old ways which he calls flesh, keeps us from the new and more expansive which he calls spirit. Can we learn to see Christ everywhere?

The Letting Go That Leads to Life

Matthew 21:1-11; Philippians 2:5-11

Passion/Palm Sunday, April 5th, 2020 : 9:45 AM

Rev. John W. Monroe III

Our instinct is to hold onto our selves. To prop our selves up, to grasp for what we want. This instinct is the root of anxiety and conflict. Watch it at play in yourself if you have the courage. The Jesus path which is true life is a path of profound letting go.

Leaving Our Tombs

John 11:1-45

March 29th, 2020 – 9:45 AM

Rev. John W. Monroe III

Apparently, sometimes we have to die in order to find true life. Death is not the enemy unless we cling to it and refuse the call to a new life. Are we stuck in our tombs? Can we trust the new life death will bring?

Seeing Our Blindness

John 9:1-41

March 22nd, 2020 – 9:45 AM

Rev. John W. Monroe III

Jesus’ healing of a blind man on the sabbath created a stir which leads to a conversation about spiritual sight and blindness. Jesus seems to suggest that until we see how blind we are, we will remain blind to God.

God Beyond the Group

John 4:5-42

March 15th, 2020 – 9:45 AM

Rev. John W. Monroe III

Jesus breaks all human conventions and distinctions. He talks with a Samaritan woman. He envisions a religion of spirit and truth, not a religion of being part of the “right” group. The call is for a direct knowing of God which transcends the external justification which is mediated by the group.

The Loss That Is Gain

Genesis 12:1-4a; John 3:1-17

March 8th, 2020 – 9:45 AM

Rev. John W. Monroe III

Abram left his past behind to find God’s promise. Jesus taught that we must be born again – dying to our former identity in order to experience God consciousness. The loss of our old life and self is to gain a new life and self in God.

Order, Disorder, Reorder

Genesis 2:15-17, 3:1-7; Matthew 4:1-11

March 1st, 2020 – 9:45 AM

Rev. John W. Monroe III

Richard Rohr claims that wisdom is won at the cost of our innocence and control. In other words, growth is not tidy, mistakes-free or something that we can control or force. It requires profound letting go and trust and humility born of failure. To grow, disorder must be embraced.

The Cloud of Unknowing

Exodus 24:12-18 and Matthew 17:1-9

February 23rd, 2020 – 9:45 AM

Rev. John W. Monroe III

A deep encounter with God is unsettling, to say the least. It is a moving into the unknown and unknowable. Prepare to leave your cozy sanity and certainty behind.

The Sting of the Christian Path

1 Corinthians 3:1-9; Matthew 5:21-37

February 16th, 2020 – 9:45 AM

Rev. John W. Monroe III

Whoever thought that the Christian path was easy never read these two passages. The path is not about looking good, but about death of the ego and deep transformation. Expect the path to sting some.

Avoiding Sloppy Agape

1 Corinthians 2:1-12; Matthew 5:13-20

February 9th, 2020 – 9:45 AM

Rev. John W. Monroe III

The wisdom of God draws us into some heady and deeply countercultural waters, yet as Jesus and Paul are careful to point out, God’s wisdom does not lead us to self-centeredness or a lack of discipline.

Nice Guys and Gals Finish First

1 Corinthians 1:18-31; Matthew 5:1-12

February 3rd, 2020 – 9:45 AM

Rev. John W. Monroe III

These two texts reverse our expectations about what it takes for us to be successful in the world. As a recovering nice-aholic, I know that a “nice” identity carries its own problems, but this title’s reversal of Leo Durocher’s saying, hopefully, opens up fruitful reflection on these rich passages.

When Good is Bad and Bad is Good

1 Corinthians 1:10-18; Matthew 4:12-23

January 26th, 2020 – 9:45 AM

Rev. John W. Monroe III

The enthusiasm, zeal and positive self-regard of the Corinthian church became a field which produced division and judgement to which Paul brought the remedy of the cross. Matthew’s Gospel sees the context of darkness as the condition which enables people to see light. What we think is good or bad may prove to be other than what we think.

The Extraordinary Ordinary

Isaiah 49:1-7; John 1:29-42

January 19th, 2020 – 9:45 AM

Rev. John W. Monroe III

In the biblical narrative, God calls seemingly ordinary people to bring transformation and healing to the world. Our lives may seem rather ordinary, but work of God takes place in what may appear to be unremarkable people.

Everyday People

Isaiah 42:1-9; Acts 10:34-43; Matthew 3:13-17

January 12th, 2020

Rev. Sue Smith

Seeing the Light

John 1:1-18

January 5th, 2020

Rev. John W. Monroe III

Christ is the light of the world, the source of all creation, and life and the light which enlightens everything. How do we become enlightened? What needs to happen in us, for us to see the light?