HomeSunday Sermon SeriesSunday Sermon Series September 17, 2023

Sunday Sermon Series September 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

In Fr. Mike Schmitz’s homily, he recounts a powerful story from the Rwandan genocide in 1994 to illustrate the concept of tough love and forgiveness. He introduces a woman named Immaculate Ilibagiza, a college student who, during the genocide, found herself hiding in a cramped bathroom with seven other women. The pastor, a Hutu, hid them from the Hutu extremists, risking his own life and the safety of his family to protect them.

As the situation outside grew more perilous, with Hutu extremists hunting down Tutsis like Immaculate and her family, she turned to prayer. Immaculate prayed fervently, seeking a sign from God to show His existence and love. In a dramatic moment, one of the extremists approached the bathroom door but inexplicably chose not to enter, allowing Immaculate and the others to remain hidden. This moment affirmed Immaculate’s belief in God’s existence and love.

Fr. Mike emphasizes the theme of tough love, highlighting that love always involves sacrifice. He explains that forgiveness is not pretending, forgetting, excusing, trusting blindly, or merely a feeling. Instead, it is rooted in justice. Forgiveness entails acknowledging the debt someone owes you and voluntarily choosing not to make them repay it. Fr. Mike stresses that forgiveness is not a one-time event but a process, and it may not immediately bring emotional relief. However, it is a decision to will the good of the other person.

Fr. Mike concludes by emphasizing that God’s love for humanity is the ultimate example of tough love. He likens God’s forgiveness of humanity’s sins, which are like an immeasurable debt, to the parable in the Gospel, where a king forgives a servant’s astronomical debt. Just as God has loved us with tough love, we are called to extend tough love through forgiveness to others, releasing them from their debts. This is a profound act of love and sacrifice, mirroring God’s love for us.

Listen to the full version here.

Buckhead Church

What If?

In his sermon, Matt Noblitt shares a personal story about his family and transitions into a deeper message about trust, surrender, and transformation through the lens of the miracle at the wedding in Cana, as recorded in the Gospel of John, Chapter 2. Matt talks about his family, including his wife Ann and their two young daughters, highlighting the parental concerns and “what if” thoughts that often arise when facing new beginnings and unknown outcomes. He reflects on how these two words, “What if,” can either fuel fear or inspire faith in our lives.

Matt goes on to explain that Jesus, at the beginning of his public ministry, performed his first miracle at a wedding in Cana by turning water into wine. He emphasizes that Jesus used ceremonial jars for washing, symbolizing a transformation from within rather than just external cleansing. Matt encourages the audience to consider what it means to trust God’s plan over their own and to fully surrender to Him, acknowledging that Jesus can only transform what we make available to Him.

He highlights the significance of saying “yes” to God’s transformative work and reminds the congregation that change is a result of receiving God’s grace, not a prerequisite. Matt encourages everyone to start where they are in their faith journey and trust that Jesus wants to transform their hearts from the inside out. He concludes by emphasizing the power of God’s love and invites the audience to reflect on what part of their hearts they need to surrender to God for transformation.

Overall, Matt Noblitt’s sermon revolves around the themes of trust, surrender, and transformation, using the wedding at Cana as a powerful metaphor for God’s desire to transform our lives from the inside out when we fully trust and surrender to Him.

Listen to the full version here.

Cathedral of Christ The King

In Father Joe Wagner’s homily, he focuses on the theme of forgiveness, drawing insights from both scripture and a modern-day story. He begins by discussing the Gospel reading, which depicts a king forgiving a massive debt but then harshly demanding repayment of a smaller debt from another person. Father Wagner finds this situation almost comical, highlighting the irony and absurdity of receiving great mercy from God yet refusing to extend forgiveness to others. He emphasizes that the message is clear: don’t become a “stinking cesspool” of unforgiveness, but rather allow God’s mercy to flow through you to others.

Father Wagner then shares two stories to illustrate the transformative power of forgiveness. The first story comes from scripture, where Peter, after denying Jesus three times, is met with Christ’s gentle and forgiving question, “Do you love me?” This encounter shows the path from denial to reconciliation and ultimately leads Peter to become a great saint and apostle.

The second story is a modern example from World War II, involving Rudolph, a former Nazi commandant responsible for the deaths of millions, and Father Vadusha alone, a priest whose brothers were killed by Rudolph’s orders. Father Wagner describes how Father Vadusha alone extended forgiveness and reconciliation to Rudolph, leading to Rudolph’s conversion and reception of the Eucharist before his execution.

Father Wagner’s homily emphasizes the profound impact of forgiveness and divine mercy in transforming even the most hardened hearts. He calls on listeners to receive God’s mercy and, instead of holding onto it selfishly, become ambassadors of forgiveness and mercy in a world filled with division and brokenness. The homily inspires the congregation to imagine the healing that could occur if they followed the examples of Peter and Father Vadusha alone in extending forgiveness to others.

Listen to the full version here.

Passion City Church

The sermon by Grant Partrick emphasizes the importance of being an active participant in the mission of the church rather than merely a passive receiver. Partrick shares his personal journey of realizing that the church is not meant to be a place where one comes to receive, but a community where individuals contribute and serve the Kingdom of God. He highlights two primary ways to engage with the church’s mission: becoming a door holder and joining a connect group. By taking these steps, he transformed his initial fear of a large church into a sense of belonging and community.

The concept of a “door holder” is explained as someone who has experienced Jesus and is willing to stand on the outside, helping others encounter the grace and beauty of a relationship with Jesus. Partrick emphasizes that serving is a fundamental aspect of the Christian faith, following the example of Jesus, who came not to be served but to serve. He encourages the congregation to find joy in serving others in the name of Jesus and to become part of God’s broader mission through the local church.

Partrick draws from the Bible, specifically from Mark 2, to illustrate the heart and spirit of a door holder. He describes the story of the paralyzed man who was lowered through a roof to reach Jesus. This act of faith and determination by the friends of the paralyzed man showed their commitment to getting their friend to Jesus for healing. Jesus not only healed the man physically but also forgave his sins, highlighting the authority and mission of the Son of Man.

The sermon concludes with a real-life example of a family’s journey within the church, particularly focusing on a young man named Andrew with cerebral palsy and autism. The congregation’s commitment to showing up, serving, and building relationships with Andrew and his family ultimately led to Andrew’s understanding and acceptance of Jesus. Partrick emphasizes that this is what it means to be a door holder, putting aside personal convenience and comfort to help others experience the life-transforming message of Jesus.

In response to the sermon, the congregation is encouraged to consider their role as doorholders, recognizing the ultimate importance of spiritual healing and being active participants in the mission of the church. The sermon conveys a message of love, service, and the joy that comes from being part of God’s redemptive work in the world.

Listen to the full version here.

Trinity Anglican Church

Kris McDaniel’s sermon focuses on the theme of forgiveness, as inspired by the teachings of Jesus. The sermon begins by emphasizing the importance of addressing conflicts and sin within the local church and among believers. Jesus’ practical teaching on how to handle conflict and sin is highlighted, setting the stage for the message of forgiveness.

The sermon centers around a parable told by Jesus in response to Peter’s question about how often one should forgive. In the parable, a servant owes an enormous debt to his master, an amount so great that it is impossible for him to repay. The master, filled with compassion, forgives the servant’s debt entirely. However, the forgiven servant, despite being freed from his immense debt, refuses to forgive a fellow servant who owes him a smaller sum. This lack of forgiveness leads to dire consequences for the unforgiving servant.

McDaniel unpacks the parable by highlighting key elements:

  • God’s preference for forgiveness: The master’s instinct is to forgive the unpayable debt, emphasizing that God’s preferred method for dealing with human sin is forgiveness rather than repayment.
  • The forgiven servant’s struggle: The forgiven servant, despite being released from his own debt, struggles to forgive someone who owes him less. This reflects the human tendency to withhold forgiveness when we believe we are owed something.
  • Forgiveness as a process: McDaniel likens forgiveness to peeling an onion, emphasizing that it’s not a one-time event but a process that can take time and effort. Forgiveness frees not only the one forgiven but also the one who forgives.
  • Freedom through forgiveness: The sermon underscores the importance of releasing others from debts they cannot repay, acknowledging that this process is about personal freedom and lightening the burden of unforgiveness.

Throughout the sermon, McDaniel encourages listeners to reflect on their own experiences with forgiveness, to acknowledge the burdens they may carry due to unforgiveness, and to consider the invitation and resistance they feel when confronted with Jesus’ teaching on forgiveness. He highlights that forgiveness is a challenging but essential aspect of Christian life and encourages the congregation to engage with this teaching and seek the freedom that forgiveness brings.

Listen to the full version here.

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