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.
You can skip to a specific section by clicking the links below.
- Fr. Mike Schmitz
- Buckhead Church
- Cathedral of Christ the King
- Passion City Church
- Trinity Anglican Church
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Fr. Mike Schmitz
In Fr. Mike Schmitz’s homily, he reflects on the significance of the Christmas season and uses the classic film “It’s a Wonderful Life” as a backdrop for his message. He introduces the concept of “main character syndrome,” where individuals see themselves as the protagonists of their own stories, often leading to self-centered perspectives. Fr. Mike acknowledges that seeing oneself as the main character can be beneficial, emphasizing personal agency, but warns of its burdens, as individuals may feel the need to control everything, be perfect, and avoid being average.
He delves into the vastness of the universe, exploring the scale of stars and galaxies, highlighting the humility needed in recognizing that God, the true main character, created everything. Fr. Mike draws parallels to biblical stories, particularly focusing on Moses, who was humbled in the wilderness despite initially thinking he was meant for greatness. He underscores the importance of realizing one’s limitations and embracing the posture of acknowledging God as the main character, using six words: “You are God, I am not.”
The homily further explores biblical instances, such as Peter and Thomas acknowledging Jesus as Lord and God, emphasizing the transformative power of this realization. Fr. Mike encourages listeners to approach Advent with a profound understanding of their place in God’s story, finding significance in being average and recognizing that God’s faithfulness extends beyond the stars. He concludes by highlighting the uniqueness and importance of every individual, reinforcing the message that being average does not equate to insignificance.
The Way Is The Manager
Andy Stanley begins by highlighting the timeless nature of human behavior, noting that King Solomon observed a universal truth 3000 years ago that still holds today. Solomon’s insight is centered on the idea that people often choose a path that seems right, feels right, and makes perfect sense, only to find out later that it leads to a dead end.
Stanley emphasizes that this tendency to choose what seems right is universal and applicable to individuals in various life stages and circumstances. He points out that people choose their ways of living, dating, parenting, spending, and scheduling based on what feels right at the time. However, Solomon’s observation, presented harshly, warns that just because something seems right doesn’t mean it is, and choosing a seemingly right way may lead to undesirable consequences, even death.
The sermon continues by acknowledging that many have experienced the harsh reality of choosing a path that seemed right but ended in a dead end. Stanley highlights the directional language people use when realizing they’ve lost their way, expressing sentiments like “I don’t know how to get back” or “I’ve lost my way.” He acknowledges the heavy nature of this realization but emphasizes the importance of recognizing and admitting when one is off course.
The central message of the sermon shifts to the contrast between human ways that lead to dead ends and the way of Jesus, who offers a way forward, back, and through. Stanley underscores the harsh reality that some ways people choose can potentially lead to the destruction of relationships, marriages, careers, reputations, and self-image. He urges listeners to recognize the need for a change in direction and emphasizes the significance of the Christmas message in providing a different way forward.
Listen to the full version here.
Cathedral of Christ The King
In Fr. Joe Wagner’s Advent sermon, he begins by acknowledging the commencement of the liturgical year and the significance of the first Sunday of Advent as the Church’s New Year. Playfully noting the increased Mass attendance, he humorously speculates on various reasons, including the allure of post-Mass coffee, donuts, and fudge sales. Fr. Joe then delves into the essence of Advent, expressing concern about secular distractions that can overshadow its true purpose. He challenges the congregation to consider how they want to approach the season, urging a shift from excessive holiday engagements to a more intentional preparation for Christmas.
Fr. Joe introduces a threefold nature of Advent, inspired by insights from Saints, which involves reflecting on the first Advent of Christ, his historical birth. He invites the congregation to empathize with the anticipation of the ancient Israelites, fostering a sense of expectancy and humility. The second Advent, anticipating Christ’s future return, is emphasized as a call to vigilance and preparation. Drawing on the concept of a helicopter on a rescue mission, he cleverly illustrates the present, emphasizing that believers must actively make room for Jesus in their lives right now. Fr. Joe encourages a spiritual inventory, akin to Marie Kondo’s organizational method, urging honest reflection on one’s relationship with Christ and the need for improvement. The sermon concludes with a challenge for each individual to consider how they will live out Advent, making room for God through practices like daily Mass, prayer, and reflection on Scripture. Overall, Fr. Joe’s sermon provides a thoughtful and practical guide for navigating the spiritual journey during Advent.
Listen to the full version here.
Passion City Church
Louie Giglio begins by addressing the common question of how well people slept the previous night and introduces the theme of finding peace amid life’s challenges. Focusing on the well-known Christmas hymn “Silent Night,” Giglio highlights the irony that the narrative of Jesus’ birth, as depicted in the Bible, was far from peaceful. He vividly describes the challenging circumstances faced by Mary and Joseph, emphasizing the absence of peace in the external events surrounding Christ’s arrival.
Giglio explores the concept of God’s plans that cannot be thwarted, drawing connections between Old Testament prophecies, such as Isaiah’s prediction of a virgin birth, and the fulfillment of those prophecies in the birth of Jesus. He underscores the notion that God’s plans extend beyond salvation to encompass individual lives, asserting that every person has a purpose and is part of God’s intricate plan. The sermon encourages listeners to trust God’s hand rather than obsess over having a detailed life plan.
The speaker shares personal anecdotes about the inception of the Passion movement and Passion City Church, emphasizing that God’s timing often defies human expectations. Giglio challenges the audience to find peace not in having a foolproof plan but in holding onto God’s hand, recognizing that God’s purposes are continually unfolding. He addresses the common anxieties associated with decision-making and future uncertainties, asserting that true peace comes from being in a relationship with God, irrespective of the specific paths chosen.
The sermon concludes with an invitation to embrace the Advent season with a renewed focus on trusting God, taking the next step with Him, and finding peace in the assurance that God’s plans for individuals cannot be stopped. Giglio encourages listeners to let go of the need for a perfect plan and instead embrace the reality that God is guiding them through life, providing the heavenly peace promised in the Christmas narrative.
Listen to the full version here.
Trinity Anglican Church
In Kris McDaniel’s sermon, delivered during the Advent season, he begins by encouraging the congregation to turn to the book of Isaiah, specifically chapter 64, emphasizing the significance of studying the Old Testament during Advent. McDaniel underscores the theme of waiting, acknowledging the difficulty of this practice, particularly for children, and introduces the use of candles as a symbolic way to mark time and wait for Christmas. He humorously mentions the impact of modern expectations, drawing a connection to the fast-paced delivery culture influenced by figures like Jeff Bezos.
Reading from Isaiah 64, McDaniel delves into the prophet’s plea for God to tear open the heavens and come down. He emphasizes the importance of vocal prayer, urging the congregation to cry out for God’s presence and to become aware of His nearness. The sermon then shifts to the theme of remembering, highlighting the intentional act of recalling personal and collective experiences of God’s faithfulness. McDaniel emphasizes the danger of forgetfulness and the need to intentionally reflect on God’s work, both individually and as a community.
McDaniel uses a creative illustration involving Play-Doh to convey the transformative power of God in shaping lives from hardness to malleability. He emphasizes the biblical metaphor that humans are clay, and God is the Potter, capable of molding and reshaping. The sermon concludes with a call to self-reflection through a series of questions, encouraging the congregation to journal and contemplate where God has worked, where sin has taken root, and how submission to God’s forming hand can lead to transformative change. The sermon effectively weaves together themes of waiting, remembering, and surrendering to God’s transformative work during the Advent season.
Listen to the full version here.