HomeSunday Sermon SeriesSunday Sermon Series December 17, 2023

Sunday Sermon Series December 17, 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

Main Character

In Fr. Mike Schmitz’s homily, he addresses the tendency of people to postpone happiness until a future event or achievement. He reflects on the completion of finals for college students, emphasizing the common mindset of deferring joy until reaching a specific goal or moment. Fr. Mike challenges this perspective, highlighting the importance of living in the present and finding reasons to be happy now, rather than continuously pushing happiness into the future.

Fr. Mike draws inspiration from the example of John the Baptist, who acknowledged his lack of control over circumstances but maintained control over his responses. He emphasizes the Christian approach to recognizing God’s presence in every moment, regardless of external circumstances. Fr. Mike delves into St. Paul’s teachings, urging Christians to rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and give thanks in all circumstances. He emphasizes the revolutionary nature of joy in Christianity, contrasting it with the worldview of a godless existence where joy would be absent.

The homily explores the unique Christian perspective on joy, rooted in the understanding of God’s love, victory, and the meaningfulness of every choice. Fr. Mike refers to psychologist Dr. Adam Dell’s observations about individuals always desiring a different life situation and connects it to the challenge of giving thanks in all circumstances. He introduces the concept of “Thank God ahead of time,” citing the example of Brother Solanus Casey, who practiced gratitude irrespective of life’s challenges.

Fr. Mike concludes by encouraging listeners not to wait for circumstances to change before embracing joy, prayer, and gratitude. He emphasizes that individuals are not the main characters in their stories, relinquishing the need for total control and inviting a shift towards rejoicing, praying, and giving thanks in the present moment. The homily inspires a mindset of active gratitude, encouraging believers to recognize the gifts of the present and engage in a continuous relationship with God.

Listen to the full version here.

Buckhead Church

The Way Is The Manager

Andy Stanley explores the profound statement of Jesus, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father through me.” He challenges the common interpretation that sees this statement as exclusionary, emphasizing that Jesus was not trying to create a smaller circle but, in fact, was being inclusive and expanding the circle. Stanley delves into the idea that Jesus came not only to offer a path to God by removing the obstacle of sin but also to model a way of life. This way of life, according to Stanley, is not just about believing something but about embracing a lifestyle—the way of Jesus.

Stanley invites the audience to imagine a world where Christians live out the way of Jesus in their daily lives. He envisions a community where people are skeptical of Christian beliefs but are amazed by the love, care, and support Christians show one another. In this world, differences among Christians in worship, interpretation of the Bible, and even political affiliations don’t divide them. Instead, they are known for their character, work ethic, self-control, reliability, and honesty.

The sermon highlights the historical context of early Christians living in a culture that valued different virtues. Stanley contrasts the countercultural, inconvenient, and seemingly impractical way of Jesus—characterized by the command to love one another—with the prevailing norms of the time. He emphasizes that the growth of the early church wasn’t primarily due to their beliefs but to the way they lived. Stanley contends that Christians were dubbed “Christian” as a political term, signifying allegiance to a different kind of king—Jesus.

The sermon challenges the modern church to live out the example set by God, following the way of love, as illustrated by Jesus. Stanley encourages believers to ask themselves, “What does love require of me?” as a guiding principle in their actions and reactions. Ultimately, he envisions a world where Christians, regardless of denominational differences, embrace the way of love, symbolized by the way of Jesus in a manger—potentially bringing about transformative change in the world.

Listen to the full version here.

Cathedral of Christ The King

Archbishop Hartmayer’s homily delves into a powerful reflection on the distinction between happiness and joy, using an anecdote from Steven Covey’s experience in a New York City subway as a starting point. Covey initially perceives a father and his four unruly children as a reflection of bad parenting. However, when he confronts the father about the disruptive behavior, he learns that the man’s wife had just passed away, offering a profound lesson about the potential misjudgments we make about others.

Transitioning to the story of John the Baptist, Archbishop Hartmayer highlights John’s role as a significant prophet who prepared the way for Jesus. He stresses that John’s mission was to encourage repentance and seeking forgiveness, drawing parallels to the human reluctance to seek forgiveness due to its humbling nature. The homily underscores the importance of recognizing the difference between happiness and joy, asserting that joy is a deeply rooted, enduring experience that transcends external circumstances.

Archbishop Hartmayer explores the idea that joy is a distinctly religious and holy experience, springing from a deep faith within the heart. He challenges the congregation not to confuse happiness, a fleeting emotion, with the lasting joy that comes from a profound belief in God. Drawing connections to the third Sunday of Advent, known as Gaudete Sunday, he reminds the listeners of the enduring joy brought about by the birth of Christ, emphasizing that true joy remains unaffected by external challenges or sorrows. The homily concludes with a prayer for the congregation to embrace the truth and seek God’s joy and peace in the remaining days of Advent.

Listen to the full version here.

Passion City Church

Louie Giglio discusses the theme of expectation while waiting to celebrate the arrival of Jesus. Emphasizing God’s plan for each person’s life, Giglio assures the congregation that even when they cannot see God’s work or discern His plan, there is a divine purpose unfolding. Drawing from the biblical story of the Magi seeking Jesus, Giglio underscores the faithfulness of God’s promises and the fulfillment of ancient prophecies.

He connects the Magi’s gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh to the prophetic significance of Jesus’ life and death. Exploring the symbolism of myrrh, Giglio notes its association with the burial process and emphasizes that Jesus was born with a mission—to defeat both spiritual and physical death. The myrrh, a healing agent and fragrance becomes a powerful symbol of Jesus’ victory over death and His sacrificial purpose.

Giglio then shifts the focus to the personal aspect of the myrrh, expressing that God shares in the grief of losing loved ones. He encourages those experiencing grief not to suppress their emotions but to find hope in God’s shared understanding. Connecting grief with hope, Giglio asserts that even in the face of death, believers can trust in the promise of eternal life and reunion.

The sermon concludes with a vision of the new heaven and new earth, where God will wipe away every tear, and death, mourning, crying, and pain will cease. Giglio reaffirms the trustworthiness of God’s words, drawing a powerful connection between the Magi’s gifts and the overarching message of Jesus’ birth and death during the Advent season.

Listen to the full version here.

Trinity Anglican Church

In this sermon by Nate Smith, he recounts a personal experience from a trip to Haiti where he, along with his wife and daughter, went to serve a local community through a medical clinic. Unexpectedly, he was asked to preach at a local Anglican church, leading to a reflection on the biblical passage from Isaiah 61:1-4 and 4-11. The sermon emphasizes the broad scope of God’s concern for humanity, encompassing the Brokenhearted, captives, and oppressed. The passage is described as powerful and practical, encouraging believers to see all aspects of their lives as part of God’s redemptive purposes. Smith draws connections between the poetic imagery in Isaiah 61 and the transformative work of the Holy Spirit.

The sermon delves into the symbolic meanings of phrases like “Garland instead of Ashes,” “oil of gladness,” “mantle of praise,” and “Oaks of righteousness,” interpreting them as representations of God’s transformative power. The speaker highlights the practicality of the passage, asserting that it provides an imagination for aligning all human activities with God’s purposes. Additionally, the sermon explores the significance of Jesus’ identification with the passage, as he proclaims its fulfillment during his recorded sermon in Luke 4.

Smith draws attention to technological advancements and human accomplishments, juxtaposing them with our collective failures in achieving justice, freedom, and comfort for the suffering. Despite human achievements, the need for a savior is emphasized, with Jesus presented as the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy. The sermon concludes with a reflection on the season of Advent, symbolizing waiting for Jesus’ return, and a contemplative message about God’s patient and deliberate pace as a manifestation of love.

Listen to the full version here.

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