HomeSunday Sermon SeriesSunday Sermon Series August 20, 2023

Sunday Sermon Series August 20, 2023

Whether you call them homilies, sermons, or talks, there’s a lot you can learn from the spiritual leaders in our community. While in a perfect world, you’d have time to listen to everyone, that simply isn’t possible for most with limited time to spare. To help, we’ve surfaced and summarized the teachings from the audio sermons of some of the most influential priests and pastors from around town and in the Christian sphere.

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Fr. Mike Schmitz

In Fr. Mike Schmitz’s homily on the 20th Sunday of Ordinary Time, he reflects on the story of St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein) and the Canaanite woman from the Gospel. Fr. Mike starts by recounting the life of St. Teresa Benedicta, who was born Edith Stein and was raised Jewish but later became an agnostic due to the suffering and brokenness she witnessed during World War I. She eventually converted to Catholicism after reading about the life of St. Teresa of Avila. St. Teresa Benedicta became a Carmelite nun and dedicated her life to Jesus, even facing persecution during World War II and dying in Auschwitz along with her sister.

Fr. Mike ponders what marked St. Teresa Benedicta’s life and suggests that it was her encounter with truth and her willingness to act on it with courage. He emphasizes that knowledge is not the problem for most of us; the real challenge lies in having the courage to act on what we know is right. Fr. Mike mentions that virtues are necessary for such actions, especially fortitude, which encompasses both bravery and perseverance. Bravery involves doing what is right even in the face of fear, while perseverance means persisting in the good despite challenges and failures.

He draws parallels between the Canaanite woman and St. Teresa Benedicta. The Canaanite woman demonstrated bravery and perseverance when she approached Jesus for help despite being rejected by the disciples. Her trust in Jesus led her to persistently call out to Him, leading to her daughter’s healing. Fr. Mike encourages listeners to be brave and to act on what they know is right, trusting that Jesus is with them in their battles. He emphasizes that holiness isn’t about never failing but about trusting in Jesus. Ultimately, Fr. Mike encourages his audience to seek courage and take steps forward, knowing that they are not alone in their journey.

Listen to the full version here.

Buckhead Church

Icon: Empowering the Invitation of the Cross

In this sermon by Andy Stanley, he discusses the concept of the “way of the cross” as an alternative way of life for Christians. He begins by sharing an interview with Madonna from 1991, where she talks about her struggle with the fear of being mediocre and uninteresting despite her success. He then connects this concept of never feeling “enough” to the broader human experience of discontentment and the constant pressure to win in the court of public opinion. Stanley argues that this pressure to win and be exceptional can lead to a futile chase after the wind.

He emphasizes that Christianity, particularly the cross, offers an alternative way of living that goes against the cultural norm. He explains that the cross is not just a symbol of belief but an invitation to a different lifestyle, one that embraces losing, serving, and putting others first. He notes that this way of life seems foolish and lazy by worldly standards, but it is an invitation to experience the power of God through the Holy Spirit. Living in sync with the cross produces qualities such as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, and self-control, which are evidence of God’s transformative power in a believer’s life.

Stanley challenges Christians to consider whether they want to experience the power of God in their lives and suggests that this power is most evident when believers choose to live selflessly and sacrificially, mirroring the example of Jesus on the cross. He acknowledges that embracing this way of life can be challenging, especially when everyone else is pursuing their own interests and achievements. However, he emphasizes that it’s this counter-cultural approach that sets Christians apart and has the potential to draw others to the faith. He concludes by encouraging individuals to think about how they can live out the way of the cross in their own contexts and circumstances.

Listen to the full version here.

Passion City Church

In Jonathan Pickens’ sermon, he discusses the theme of handing over, using the Greek word “paradeigma,” and how it is seen in different contexts within the Gospel of John. He relates this concept to the idea of missing out on Jesus due to being preoccupied with lesser loves, such as greed, pride, and seeking the approval of others.

He begins by sharing his experience as a parent teaching his daughter to crawl, paralleling this with how God might see us clinging to things that distract us from receiving His love and purpose. He emphasizes the struggle of giving up these lesser loves in order to fully embrace what God wants to offer us.

Pickens then delves into the three instances in the Gospel of John where people handed over Jesus: Judas due to greed, the Jewish leaders due to pride, and Pilate due to seeking approval. He explores how these motivations led them to miss Jesus in their lives and highlight the importance of recognizing our own tendencies to do the same.

The sermon concludes by highlighting how Jesus is the opposite of these flawed motivations. Jesus handed over His life for us, not seeking self-interest, pride, or approval. He invites us to hand over our own lives in return, embracing His love and grace.

The overarching message encourages listeners to examine their hearts and identify the lesser loves that may be keeping them from fully experiencing Jesus in their lives. It calls for surrendering those attachments to receive the transformative love and purpose that God offers.

Listen to the full version here.

Trinity Anglican Church

Dave McCune’s sermon centered around the story of Jesus healing the paralyzed man who was lowered through the roof by his friends. He emphasized that Jesus heals impossible situations and encourages everyone to bring their challenges and struggles to him. The story is a powerful reminder that Jesus cares about both our physical and spiritual well-being.

Dave highlighted how Jesus not only healed the man’s physical paralysis but also forgave his sins, showing that he cares about the whole person. He discussed the significance of the phrase “Son of Man” that Jesus used, which is a messianic term that points to Jesus’ divine authority.

Dave also pointed out the importance of community and the role of friends in carrying us when we’re unable to move forward ourselves. He emphasized the lesson of the “Four Corners,” which includes family, church, peers, and mentors. These four corners represent the various roles that contribute to the growth and development of our faith. Dave encouraged parents and caregivers to invest in their children’s faith journey and highlighted the value of mentorship and spiritual friendships.

Throughout the sermon, Dave shared personal stories, used visuals like Legos to engage the audience, and emphasized the need to surrender our challenges to Jesus and to trust in the support of our faith community. The sermon aimed to inspire people to bring their impossible situations to Jesus, to let go of self-sufficiency, and to rely on the power of faith and community.

Listen to the full version here.

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