Recent Sermons

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?

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

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.