Sermons Only

These are videos of ONLY the Messages (Sermons) done for the weeks listed. To view entire services, including all scripture, prayer, and music, CLICK HERE.

April 2024 Sermons

April 28, 2024

April 21, 2024

April 14, 2024

April 7, 2024

Walking with the Resurrected Lord

Luke 24:13-35

The resurrected Jesus joined two grieving disciples walking from Jerusalem to Emmaus. His identity was hidden from them. They expressed to him their sorrow and disappointment that Jesus had died. He explained to them that the Messiah must suffer and die according to the Scriptures. His presence comforted them. In our experiences of heartache, we may not perceive that the Lord walks with us to comfort us. Instead, we may be disappointed with God and even become bitter. May the Lord enlighten us to perceive the kindness and comfort of the Holy Spirit.

Rev. Sam Wright, PhD

March 2024 Sermons

March 31, 2024

Headlines in the Jerusalem Enquirer: RUMORS OF A RESURRECTION

John 20:1-18 (CEB)

The men and women who had followed Jesus were grieving the death of their rabbi and friend. They were in shock and confused. The resurrected Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene and then to the other disciples, transforming their grief into joy and wonder. The resurrection of Jesus is the foundation of the Christian faith and the source of our hope.

Rev. Sam Wright, PhD

 

Match 24, 2024

Headlines in the Jerusalem Enquirer: CROWDS CHEER, THEN JEER JESUS

Mark 11:7-10, 15:6-15 (CEB)

Jesus was crucified for claiming to be a king, the Messiah, who would reign on David’s throne in Jerusalem. Jesus was not that kind of king. He was not the kind of king they wanted. Is Jesus our kind of king?

Rev. Sam Wright, PhD

March 17, 2024

Headlines in the Jerusalem Enquirer: JESUS TOPS MOST WANTED LIST

John 11:7-16 (CEB)

Jesus warned his followers that he would be persecuted and killed. They should expect the same if they commit to following him. So, he told them to pick up their cross and follow him. Many of Jesus’ disciples were martyred. Many people are still killed for their Christian faith today. A conservative estimate is that around the world, 200 people are killed for their Christian faith every month. I wonder whether we would remain faithful if we were put to that kind of test. 

Rev. Sam Wright, PhD

March 10, 2024

Headlines in the Jerusalem Enquirer: "MESSIAH” JESUS CONTRADICTS MOSES, RILES AUTHORITIES

Mark 7:14-23 (NRSV)

Jesus set aside the dietary laws of Moses based on his observation of how digestion works. His common-sense interpretation of Scripture offended the religious scholars because Jesus contradicted the Bible. Should we apply Jesus’ common-sense reasoning to our interpretation of the Old Testament? And the New Testament? Some modern interpreters use a literal and legalistic approach to the New Testament. Jesus rejected that way of interpreting his Bible—the Old Testament. Would he reject this type of approach to the New Testament? How should we interpret the Scriptures?

Rev. Sam Wright, PhD

March 3, 2024

Headlines in the Jerusalem Enquirer: JESUS CHAMPIONS CANNIBALISM

John 6:52-58 (CEB)

When nothing makes sense, our faith is challenged. When difficult things happen, we may want to quit, to abandon the Lord. Our friendship with the Lord keeps us tethered to our God. The Lord won’t abandon us. Where else can we go when nothing makes sense but to the Lord who loves us?

Rev. Sam Wright, PhD

February 2024 Sermons

February 25, 2024

Headlines in the Jerusalem Enquirer: JESUS POSSESSED

Mark 3:22-30

The religious authorities claimed Jesus was possessed by the ruler of demons. They judged Jesus’ actions as evil. Jesus accused them of sinning against the Holy Spirit by determining his good deeds were inspired by the Devil rather than by God. How do we decide if a person’s actions are good or bad? Can we judge others’ motives? Can we judge our own?

Rev. Sam Wright, PhD

February 18, 2024

Headlines in the Jerusalem Enquirer: Family Certifies Jesus Insane

Mark 3:21, 31-35 (NRSV)

Jesus’ family thinks he is crazy. He ignores them in favor of those willing to do the will of God which means to listen to his teaching and put it into practice.

Rev. Sam Wright, PhD

February 11, 2024

The Worst-Case Scenario

Matthew 6:25-34 (CEB)

There is always something to worry about. Jesus told the people of his day not to worry. Many of those were worried about where their next meal was coming from. Even though our world is very different than the first century’s, like Jesus’ listeners, we worry about the future. Jesus gives us an alternative. This sermon will explore Jesus teaching us not to worry.

Rev. Sam Wright, PhD

February 4, 2024

Disappointing Dad

Luke 15:11-24

In the story of the Prodigal Son, there are two sons. Both boys disappoint their father, but he is ready to forgive and accept them. We all make mistakes and need God’s grace and forgiveness. We need to learn to live in God’s grace without fear or judgment. 

Rev. Sam Wright, PhD

January 2024 Sermons

January 28, 2024t

We Need a Security System

Psalm 27:1-14 (NRSV)

The psalmist asks if God is our fortress and protection, do we need to be afraid of anyone? The psalmist answers there is no need to fear anyone or anything with God watching over you. What are you afraid of? How do you protect yourself? your family? your property? The psalmist found security in God. Is that an option for us? What would that look like? How would that change how we see the world? one another?

Rev. Sam Wright, PhD

January 21, 2024

Loving Who God Loves

Luke 7:36-50 (The Message)

Zoe Empowers works with child-headed households and their families impacted by the global orphan crisis. Through a three-year, locally led program, participants become safe and healthy, skilled for long-term success, and able to lead meaningful lives within a supportive community, providing them with a positive impact. In 2022 First United Methodist of Sarasota shared a partnership for a second group of orphaned children. The group is called Tadiwanashe (We have been loved by God) Empowerment group that consists of 35 households and a total of 87 children.

Ann Eppinger - Florida Lay Advocate for Zoe Empowers

January 14, 2024

That They May Be Completely One

Ephesians 4:1-6 (NRSV); John 17:20-23 (NRSV)

Recently a significant number of churches have disaffiliated from the United Methodist Church to become independent churches. Others have joined the Global Methodist Church. The Christian church has a long and painful pattern of division that goes back to the earliest days. We Christians have not lived up to the prayer of Jesus for the church - that we be united. How do we live into Jesus’ prayer for us considering our tendency to separate from each other?  

Rev. Dr. Sam Wright

 

January 7, 2024

The Other Side of Christmas

Matthew 2:1-12 (CEB)

There is another side to Christmas. Not everything that happens this time of year is good. Not everyone is motivated by the Christmas spirit. That was also true in Bethlehem after Jesus was born. King Herod reminds us that there are those who are out only for themselves, and they will eliminate anyone in their way. May we follow the baby born to be King of the Jews that the magi worshiped? 

Rev. Dr. Sam

December 2023 Sermons

December 31, 2023

Are we There Yet?

Philippians 3:7-14 (NRSV)

As we end one year and begin another, we must reflect on where we have been. However, looking at where we are going is more important. The Apostle Paul had one aim in life, and he pursued it with a passion. As we lean into 2024, where are you headed? Do you have a destination? How will you know when you arrive? Or have you already arrived? 

Rev. Dr. Sam

December 24, 2023

Do You Feel What I Feel?

Luke 8:40-48 (CEB) ; Luke 2:6-7 (CEB)

There is power in the human touch. Jesus touched people who were sick and healed them. As you pay attention to your senses this Advent season, what are the things you touch? Who are the people you touch? Who touches you? We can imagine what it was like that first Christmas as Mary touched her newborn baby, his soft skin. Baby Jesus felt his mother’s touch. She wrapped him quickly and tightly to keep him warm. What do you feel both physically and emotionally at this time of year?

Rev. Dr. Sam Wright

December 17, 2023

Do You Taste What I Taste?

Psalm 34:8 (CEB) ; Genesis 2:8-9 (CEB)

I just ate a piece (okay, two pieces) of a delicious homemade pumpkin roll. A generous parishioner made one for each member of the church staff. There are so many wonderful desserts prepared by loving family and friends. Why does food taste so good? God did not have to design the world that way. Maybe the flavor of food is another example of God’s grace in creation. After God planted the garden in Eden with many varieties of delicious and nutritious fruit trees, what did God say to Adam? Bon Appetit! (My paraphrase)

Rev. Dr. Sam Wright

cember 10, 2023

Do You Hear What I Hear?

Isaiah 42:1-4, 9-10 (NRSV); Luke 2:10-14 (NKJV)

The priest said, “You should only sing Advent hymns in church until Christmas Eve. Then you can begin singing Christmas songs.” I said, “I disagree. You can’t keep a lid on Christmas. The music of Christmas is amazing. Besides, while there are a few great Advent hymns, there are so many wonderful Christmas hymns.” I continued complaining, “In the liturgical calendar, Advent is twice as long as the Christmas season. That’s never made any sense to me. Besides, some retail establishments begin playing Christmas music after Halloween—all do so by Thanksgiving. So why should the church be so far behind in singing the fabulous music of Christmas?” The priest told me to say five “Hail Mary’s” and discipline myself not to sing Silent Night or Joy to the World until Christmas Eve. Then I woke up from my dream.

Rev. Dr. Sam Wright

December 3, 2023

Do You See What I See?

Jeremiah 33:14-16 (CEB); Luke 2:8-14 (NKJV)

What have you seen that makes you anticipate? Lights decorating houses? Traffic backed up the northbound ramp off I-75 by people trying to get to the UTC mall. More license plates from the north? Christmas decorations pulled from the attic? The angels told the shepherds that they would see a sign—"a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” What are the signs God is bringing new life to us this Advent? What expectations do you have?

Rev. Dr. Sam Wright

November 2023 Sermons

November 26, 2023

Christ the King

John 18:33-38

We call Jesus the Christ, the Anointed one, in other words, the King. What does it mean to affirm Jesus as king? What kind of king is he? Jesus is the King. Since we do not have a king in this country, is that a metaphor for Jesus that we can relate to? How do we serve this king?

Rev. Dr. Sam Wright

November 19, 2023

Give Thanks to the Lord

Psalm 100 (REB); Luke 17:11-19 (CEB)

We give thanks to God because God is good, better than we could ever imagine. Gratitude is why we worship God. Expressing gratitude is how we worship the Lord. Because of all God has done for us, we orient our lives toward the Lord who made us. Thanks be to God.

Rev. Dr. Sam Wright

 

November 12, 2023

The Most Generous Giver

Mark 12:41-44 (CEB)

Statistics show the more money we make, the less we give by percentage. It’s not a new pattern of behavior. Jesus pointed to a poor widow who gave far less than anyone else at the temple that day. She threw in two tiny coins worth a penny. Jesus made a scene by calling over his disciples. “Did you see that? Did you see how much she gave?” I’m sure the disciples were not impressed with her tossing in such a meager sum. But Jesus pointed out that she gave everything she had to God. Others gave much more money. But they gave less of what they had. In other words, the Lord not only sees what we give but also what we keep—a challenging thought. 

Rev. Dr. Sam Wright

 

November 5, 2023

Wrestling with Grief

1 King 17:17-24 (REB); 1 Thessalonians 4:13 (NRSV)

When we lose someone close to us, we are devastated. Grief overwhelms us. God is with us in our anguish. The Lord weeps alongside us. The Spirit of God sustains us and comforts us during such difficult times. God raised Jesus from the dead and gives us hope for life beyond death. That hope can help sustain us when death robs us of a loved one.   

Rev. Dr. Sam Wright

October 2023 Sermons

October 29, 2023

Jesus 101: The Sermon on the Mount: Location, Location, Location! 

Matthew 7:21-29

Theme: The businesswoman Mary Kay Ash said, “Ideas are a dime a dozen. People who implement them are priceless.” Jesus said, “So whoever hears these words of mine and acts on them is like a man who had the sense to build his house on rock.” God listens to what we do. It’s our actions that show what we truly believe.  It’s our actions, more than our words, that demonstrate our love for God and others. 

Rev. Dr. Sam Wright

October 22, 2023

Jesus 101: The Sermon on the Mount: Beware False Prophets

Matthew 7:13-20 (CEB)

We’ve heard about many of the prophets who warned us about what might happen if we disobeyed God. Isaiah, Jeremiah, Jacob, Joshua, Daniel and many others let us know about God’s wishes for us. But Jesus told us to watch out for false prophets. Why would we need prophets now that Christ has told us what we need to know? And why should we listen to any prophets anyway?

Rev. Woody Woodward

October 15, 2023

Jesus 101: The Sermon on the Mount: The Golden Rule

Tobit 4:15 (CEB), Luke 6:31-36 (CEB), Matthew 7:12 (REB)

Jesus summarizes his Scriptures in ten words—the Golden Rule. If we follow this rule, God will be pleased with us. No doubt, other people would appreciate it also. What if every one of us two billion Christians on the planet followed this rule? How would it change our world? What if you and I put it into practice every day? How would it change our lives and impact others? Jesus challenges us to treat others as we want to be treated. Are you up for it? 

Rev. Dr. Sam Wright

October 8, 2023

Jesus 101: The Sermon on the Mount: Ask, Search, Knock

Matthew 7:7-11 (CEB)

Jesus encourages us to ask God for what we need because God loves us as a caring father or mother loves a son or daughter. When we are in need, we can trust God to provide what we need. 

Rev. Dr. Sam Wright

October 1, 2023

Jesus 101: The Sermon on the Mount: Do Not Judge Others

Matthew 7:1-6 (CEB)

Jesus tells us to do something impossible. “Don’t judge.” If you are on a jury, you have to decide whether someone is a murderer. If hiring an employee, you must determine if they would be a good employee. If you’re dating someone, you decide whether they would be a good spouse. (I’m grateful Yvonne was too kind in her judgment.) Jesus warns us to be careful because God will judge us the same way we judge others. So, judge with fairness, mercy, and kindness.

Rev. Dr. Sam Wright

September 2023 Sermons

September 24, 2023

Jesus 101: The Sermon on the Mount: Don’t Worry 

Matthew 6:25-34 (CEB)

The little boy was sobbing. He was upset because his mother had abandoned him in a strange place with people he did not know. The preschool teacher assured him that his mother would return later that day, “Your Mommy will come back later. Don’t worry. It’s okay.”  That’s what I hear Jesus saying in our passage.  “It’s going to be okay. There’s no need to worry.  God loves you.  God will meet your needs.”  We are not alone.  God is here—no need to be anxious.

Rev. Dr. Sam Wright

September 17, 2023

Jesus 101: The Sermon on the Mount: Serve God, Not Money

Matthew 6:19-24 (CEB)

At a seminar this week, the leader asked us to list the top five things we value most. Our spouses were to do the same. From those two lists, we were to discuss and agree on the top three. Then, our plans and decisions going forward will be based on these top values. Loyalty to what’s important determines our actions. Jesus said you cannot serve two masters. You will be loyal to one and have contempt for the other. Not surprisingly, Jesus put God as the highest value. 

Rev. Dr. Sam Wright

September 10, 2023

Jesus 101: The Sermon on the Mount: Forgive as You Have Been Forgiven 

Matthew 6:7-15 (CEB)

On June 17, 2015, Dylann Roof entered the Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, killed nine people and wounded a tenth participating in a Bible study. Roof, a white supremacist, murdered them because he hated African Americans. At his bond hearing, several surviving family members told Roof they forgave him for the murder of members of their family. Such forgiveness was shocking. It seemed incomprehensible. Jesus tells us that God will not forgive us unless we forgive others. Wait. Doesn’t God forgive us when we ask for forgiveness? Is God’s grace dependent on our being gracious?

Rev. Dr. Sam Wright

September 3, 2023

Jesus 101: The Sermon on the Mount: Love Your Enemies

Matthew 5:38-48 (CEB)

“I love my wife,” “I love pizza,” and “I love my new phone.” These statements suggest an emotional attachment to the person or object. When Jesus told us to love someone, he was saying, “Choose the best for the other,” and “Be as concerned about that person’s well-being as your own.” That kind of love takes a conscious choice for the sake of the other person. When Jesus says, “Love your enemies,” he is not saying we have some kind of positive feeling toward them, but rather that we choose the best for them and pray for them. Still, a difficult thing to do.

Rev. Dr. Sam Wright