Old High St. Stephen's, Inverness

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Month: October 2017

More than we expected: sermon at Old High on 29 October 2017

Scripture Reading: Matthew 22:34-46

In the name of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen.

Luther 2

Today marks the five hundredth anniversary of the event we think of as sparking the Reformation. Martin Luther is said to have nailed a list of forty-nine theses- discussion points, if you like- the door of the church in Wittenberg. In doing so, he provoked arguments which continue to resonate in the Church to this day.
We’ll be thinking more about the Protestant Reformation next Sunday. But I mention now because the Reformation began with an argument, and it reminds us that Christians are prone do to get into arguments. You might think that we shouldn’t- are we not supposed to love one another? Well, perhaps. But turn to a passage like today’s Gospel reading, and you’ll find that Jesus always seemed to be arguing.

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Autumn 2017 Church Magazine

You can download a copy of the Autumn 2017 magazine here

Belonging and believing: sermon for Sunday 22 October 2017: Proper 24 (Year A, RCL)

Scripture Readings: 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10

Matthew 22:15-22

In the name of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen.

Joseph Andrew Crisci, whom we baptised today, has a Scottish mother, and an Italian father, but he was born and will grow up in Spain. He is also, as his mother reminded me the other day, a citizen of Europe. And today we baptised him in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Scottish, Italian, Spanish, European, Christian- Joseph is a young man who already has many different identities. We all of us have different, overlapping, identities. But some people feel threatened by the notion of different identities. They say that you cannot have one identity, but also claim to have another. When that happens, the results can be horrific.

Last week, I visited two small rooms in a house in Amsterdam. An hour’s flying time from Inverness Airport, and during the lifetime of my parents, eight people, including two children, hid in those two rooms in order to save their lives. They had to go into hiding simply because they were Jewish. For in a speech at the Concertgebouw concert hall in 1941, Arthur Seyss-Inquart, the Nazi ruler of the German occupied Netherlands, had stated ‘We do not consider the Jews to be members of the Dutch nation. The Jews for us are not Dutch’. That Jews had been part of Dutch society for centuries made no difference whatsoever. Having a Jewish identity was, the Nazis said, incompatible with being Dutch- or, for that matter, Belgian, French, Danish, or German.

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The Great Reversal: a sermon for Harvest Thanksgiving 1 October 2017

Scripture Readings: Exodus 16:2-15

Matthew 20:1-16

In the name of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen.

Two stories. The first, from a man who makes his living growing our food.

frank-zulu-pigeon-pea-field-thumbFor Frank Zulu of Chithumbwi village, Malawi, abundant life is in part denied because the rain is no longer reliable. He says: ‘Sometimes it rains heavily and washes seeds away and then it suddenly stops; sometimes it rains very late so our seeds die in the ground; sometimes it doesn’t rain at all.’
The consequences for the maize harvest, and therefore communities, is devastating. Frank says: ‘In Malawi, when we say somebody is hungry, we mean they don’t have maize. When the maize is not in harvest or there are shortages, people starve.’
With support from Christian Aid partner Evangelical Association of Malawi (EAM), Frank has diversified his crops to include sweet potatoes and pigeon peas, which are better able to survive low rainfalls… However, even with a successful harvest of pigeon peas, the poor market prices for individual farmers prevent Frank and his family from getting a good price for his crops…
Frank and his community [often experiences corruption] at the farm gate where he sells the pigeon pea crop to traders. Often, these middlemen use illegal buying scales and exploit individual farmers. These ruthless tactics have the effect of driving prices right down. For Frank, this is a disaster: ‘Even though I am growing more pigeon peas than ever, my life is miserable because of the low prices offered by the traders. The money is not enough to feed my family or pay school fees for my four children’.[1]

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