Here are the times of our services in July.
To download July’s month of Sundays, click here.
If you need any further information, please contact us at invernesschurch<at>gmail.com (replace<at> with @).
NEWS FROM OUR CONGREGATION
WORSHIP THIS WEEK
Sunday 8 July 2018: Proper 9
10am Morning Worship at St Stephen’s
11.15 am Morning Worship at the Old High
A couple of years ago I visited Fingal’s Cave, the famous cavern in the cliffs of the Isle of Staffa. Staff is a long way from land- you get a boat from Iona or Mull, and it takes more than an hour to get there. On this particular occasion we were tossed about quite a bit, for it was a windy day, and the waves were getting pretty high. Those of us who were in the boat sang daft songs to keep our spirits up- of course, we were in no real danger, for the boatman would have taken us home if things had been really rough.
If you need any further information, please contact us at invernesschurch<at>gmail.com (replace<> with @).
Sunday 24 June 2018: Proper 7
10am Sacrament of Holy Communion at St Stephen’s
led by the Minister
11.15 am Morning Worship at the Old High
NEWS FROM OUR CONGREGATION
MINUTE FOR MISSION: INVERNESS STREET PASTORS (ISP) are trained volunteers from local churches who patrol in teams where they care for, listen to and help people who are out on the streets. Prayer Pastors pray for our community from our base, or at home. Street Pastors speakers will be with us today.The speakers will be available after the services
THE SACRAMENT OF HOLY COMMUNION will be celebrated at St Stephen’s today. All are welcome at the Lord’s Table. Retiring Offering will be in aid of of Mikey’s Line a text-for-support helpline which is supported by a volunteer bank of young people over weekends. It provides a valuable service for young people who are too distressed to talk over the phone. The Hive, is a drop-in centre in Academy Street, which is run by the Mikey’s Line charity and offers advice for anyone over 17 who feels they need help. www.mikeysline.co.uk. Please give generously to this vital project.
CONSERVATION AND DEVELOPMENT PLAN FOR THE OLD HIGH CHURCH Some time ago, an architect was commissioned by the Kirk Session to prepare a plan for the future conservation and development of the Old High Church. He presented his interim report to the Congregation on Saturday 2 June. We are glad to say that half of his fees have been refunded to us from the General Trustees of the Church of Scotland. He is now inviting further comments, especially from those who were at the meeting and saw what was proposed. We hope to have his final proposals in a few months’ time. Please send comments (deadline midnight tonight 17 June) to our Church Administrator .
SUNDAY EVENING DISCUSSION GROUP will meet this evening at 7pm in St Stephen’s vestry when we shall explore the chapter entitled ‘Holiness’ in Rowan Williams’ book “Being Disciples”. All welcome.
FREEWILL OFFERING ENVELOPES for the year commencing 1 July 2018 are now ready for collection.
HIGHLAND FOODBANK During the months of June and July the Foodbank would welcome donations of the following: Cartons of Long Life Juice; Breakfast Cereals; Tins of Potatoes, Corned Beef, Tomatoes. Thank you to all who regularly bring donations of food. It is much appreciated.
OLD HIGH MUSIC during July and August we are fortunate to have 3 summer organ recitals by musicians from further afield. The first event will be on Thursday 5 July at 7.30pm when Alessandro Bianchi, an eminent organist from Northern Italy who has performed at many international organ festivals across Europe, will play a programme that stretches from Bach to the twentieth century. Brochures with details of all the concerts are now available at the entrance to both churches.
OHSS SUMMER OUTING Beauly River 22 July. Meet St Stephen’s Car Park 1.30pm or Black Bridge Car Park near Kilmorack 2pm. Low level walk with flat terrain. Check walkhighlands.co.uk for more details – short looped planned. Afternoon tea or High tea after at The Priory Hotel, Beauly 4pm.
OLD HIGH CHURCH OPENING 2-4pm each Friday afternoon. Summer Opening programme from Friday 1 June to Friday 28 September; opening times: Tuesday to Friday inclusive 10am -12 noon and 2-4pm.
TREASURER VACANCY Our Treasurer is standing down after several years of service. We urgently need someone to fill this vital role! If you are interested, or know someone who might be willing to serve in this way, please contact The Treasurer.
OLD HIGH HALL We still urgently require someone to help with bookings at the Old High Hall (or we will be unable to let the hall to outside bodies).
PRAYER DIARY Latest prayer diary June to September, and Impact report are available at church doors.
PASTORAL CARE The Minister, or our Pastoral Assistant, should be informed of anyone ill at home or in hospital.
SUNDAY BULLETIN ITEMS should be sent to the Church Administrator. Deadline Wednesday at 12 noon. Please keep all items as brief as possible, and include contact details (phone and/or email).
Scripture Readings: 1 Samuel 16.1-13
In the name of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen.
The prophet Samuel was on a mission to find a new king for Israel. At Bethlehem, he was sure he’d got his man when he met Eliab, son of Jesse. He thinks that Eliab has all the right qualifications- an eldest son, he looks the part. We’re told he’s tall and handsome- just how you’d need to look to lead an army into battle. This must be the man, thought Samuel. But God had other ideas. In his heart, Samuel heard God speak:
Pay no attention to how tall and handsome he is. I have rejected him, because I do not judge as people judge. They look at the outward appearance, but I look at the heart.
Six more sons of Jesse were brought to Samuel, but none of them were the man God wanted. Puzzled, Samuel asked Jesse, ‘Have you any more sons?’ There was just the youngest son left over, out on the hills watching the sheep- no-one had thought to bring the youngest son along to meet the prophet. And when David is brought to him, God tells Samuel that this is the man.
David was to become the greatest of Israel’s kings, and one of the most important characters in the Bible story. But he was very nearly overlooked. Samuel thought Eliab was the boy he was looking for- but God surprised him. Because God looks at things differently- God is not interested in outward appearances, but looks into our hearts. So Samuel has a surprise when he discovers that the king is to be David, the youngest son. Often it is the least expected person through whom God can works miracles.
We live in an age when style and image is everything. Millions of pounds are spent on clothes, make-up, beauty treatments, diet foods. Even your house and your car is supposed to say something about you. No doubt a lot of this is pretty harmless. But there’s heartbreak as well- young women who diet until they damage their health, boys who get bullied at school for wearing the wrong kind of trainers. In a society obsessed with appearance, rumours of a few pounds added onto a celebrity bum can make front page news. In China many years ago, women had their feet bound up because small feet were thought to be beautiful. And isn’t there an African tribe where they wear metal rings around their necks to make their necks longer? In our own culture there are people who reckon they can only find happiness through cosmetic surgery procedures like breast enlargement. For we are obsessed by looks and by status.
But God has the bigger picture. The good news is that God doesn’t care if you’re fat or thin, blonde or grey haired. It’s what’s inside that counts for God- it’s what’s in your heart that’s important. And so God tells Samuel: it’s not what’s on the outside that’s important: I look below the surface, below what you can easily see. It’s not Eliab, nor any of the other sons Jesse is presenting to you. Bring the youngest one- the one who’s looking after the sheep. And so David is brought to Samuel, and David begins his journey to the throne.
It is a religious insight, this truth that appearances aren’t everything. Jesus once said,
I came to this world to judge, so that the blind should see and those who see should become blind (John 9.35)
That, I think, is Jesus’ judgement on our surface-obsessed society. St Paul speaks about people
who boast about people’s appearance and not about their character’(1 Corinthians 5.12)
He teaches us that as Christians, we are to judge people by a different standard:
No longer, then, do we judge anyone by human standards
Instead, he reminds us that those who are joined to Christ- and that is what we signify at baptism- are seen by God in a whole new light:
Anyone who is joined to Christ is a new being; the old is gone, the new has come (2 Corinthians 5.17).
Too many of us today lack any spiritual insight- we suffer from spiritual blindness. We are obsessed with outward appearance, and lack the insight to see any deeper. And yet we think we can see it all. Jesus judges us and says, ‘You think you can see, but you are really blind- blind to what really matters’.
But that is not quite all that the story of Samuel anointing David is about. I used to think that the moral of this story is that outward appearances don’t matter to God. But when I read it more closely this week, I realized that there’s a bit more to it than that. When Samuel has seen the rest of Jesse’s sons, he asks for David to be sent for. Listen again to what the text says of David when he appears:
He was a handsome, healthy young man, and his eyes sparkled. The Lord said to Samuel, “This is the one- anoint him!”
You see, David, too, looked the part. If he’d been an ugly, puny weakling he wouldn’t have made much of a king. His outward appearance did matter to God, because God could use that outward appearance. He would look the part of a king. But it was more than just David’s looks which were important. There was an inner something which set David apart from his brothers, something which Samuel only recognised when it was shown to him by God.
Inside a mustard seed, said Jesus, there is a world of possibilities. Sow that tiny seed, and something will grow out of it. Jesus exaggerates: the mustard seed does not become the largest of all trees. But his point is that from very small, insignificant things, can come amazing things. And this is why this is a parable of Christ’s kingdom. From the smallest seeds, from seemingly insignificant things, God can do a lot.
When a new baby comes into a family. we all look at the helpless baby, and wonder what will become of him or her. Because even although the child is helpless, nevertheless the possibilities are endless. Will she be a brain surgeon, an inventor, a writer or an actor or an artist? But even if she does not, she will still have the opportunity to do great things- to be a wonderful daughter, to be a good friend to someone in need, to make a positive contribution to the life of the society she will grow up in.
In every age and culture there people who are marginalised, demonised or forgotten. Like mustards seeds, they are the overlooked, apparently unimportant. But it has often been Christian people who said, ‘These are children of God, they should not be treated like this’. That’s why Christians fought to abolish things like slavery and child labour. It’s why Christian agencies are involved in helping the homeless, or rehabilitating drug users. It’s why Christians in India reach out to the ‘untouchables’, those at the bottom of the Hindu caste system. It’s why any kind of racism, or any discrimination against someone because of their nationality, or any other reason, is anathema to the Gospel. That’s why Christian churches are so involved in looking after the refugees coming ashore on the Mediterranean or attempting to settle in our cities. That’s why it’s important that we support initiative like the food banks, taking care of people our politicians seem to think can be forgotten about. I think it’s what motivates Street Pastors, who don’t just see party goers or revellers, but the people behind the bravado, or the drunkenness- a mother’s son, a father’s daughter, a child of God like you and me who needs help, who needs to hear the good news that God loves them, and that there is meaning in life.
Others look at the outward appearances, but God sees the heart. And Christians should see, not a refugee, not a foreigner, not an untouchable, not a homeless or drug-addicted statistic, not someone who’s drunk too much and is headed for a brush with the police- we should see a child of God.
For if you believe in God, the world looks different. People who seem fit only for charity or pity or worse suddenly seem full of possibilities. As Christians, we have to learn, as Samuel learned in our Old Testament story, to see under the surface: seeing beyond first impressions, beyond a person’s skin colour or nationality or accent or social standing, to the person behind the statistics, the fellow human being, a child of God like us.
When we celebrate the Sacraments in church, we take ordinary things- bread and wine, or today for young water for baptism, and we set them aside and treat them as if they were special. It is not that they are any different than any other bread, wine or water. But for people of faith, they come to have inner meanings, spiritual meanings. So we talk of water which washes away sin and bread and wine which is the body and blood of Christ. Another example: this building, this place where we meet, is only wood and stone and iron. Yet for people of faith, it becomes the house of God when we worship here. With faith, you can begin to be able to see the world differently.
And you begin to see people differently. And then all kinds of things are possible. If you can learn to see Jesus Christ in bread and wine, and believe in forgiveness just because water is poured out, and building as the house of God, then you can also start to see people differently. In faith, you look at other people and see something beautiful and unique in each of them. For they are children of God, the neighbours whom Christ has commanded you to love, whoever they are, however they look. For the gift of faith is that we see the world in a whole new way.
And, if we will accept it in faith, it is God’s gift to us to know that God judges us differently from the world around us. We who know of God’s love are not immune to our culture’s obsession with fashion and looks and status. But if we know that we are children of God, then that is a wonderful status already.
A few years ago, Susan Boyle appeared on Britain’s Got Talent. She didn’t look like a star, but turned out she had an amazing voice. But even if she had never been ‘discovered’ by Britain’s Got Talent, even if she’d never become famous, she would still have the knowledge that she is a child of God, that she is loved by God. And there were already lives touched by her: press reports spoke of her volunteering with her local Church and looking after her siblings and elderly mother. Susan Boyle might have impressed Simon Cowell, but in God’s eyes she was a great person already.
And if we will accept it, each of us are seen by God differently. We may be apparently ordinary, but we are God’s children. And the everyday things that we do in our lives are judged differently by God as well. So when we do a small thing for the Kingdom- a smile, a helping hand, something which perhaps no-one even knows about, but only God knows about- then that, says Jesus is a bit like the mustard seed. What we think is great and what God knows is great can be very different. So go from here and sow the seeds of kindness, of goodness and of love. Forget whether what you do is cool or fashionable or will make you famous. For God judges these things differently. And in the end, only God’s judgement of you, of who you are and what you do, really matters.
Ascription of Praise
The God of grace who calls you all
to his eternal glory in Christ
restore, establish and strengthen you.
All power belongs to God for ever and ever, Amen.
Based on 1 Peter 5.10-11: c.f. BCO 1994, p584
Biblical references from the Good News Bible, unless otherwise stated
© 2018 Peter W Nimmo
Scripture Readings: Colossians 3.12-17
In the name of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen.
When we go to war, we have marching songs. When we find romance, we have love songs. When we love to dance to music- whether it’s Scottish country dance music, or the heavy beat at a night club, or the various forms of ballroom. Our entertainment is full of music- not just concerts, but it’s in the background to our films and television dramas. Who can forget the zither music of The Third Man or the double based terror of Jaws? I saw a play recently where the on-stage players were an absolutely vital part of the action: Amadeus (which has also been a film) – the story of Mozart and his rival, Salieri, a story which could hardly be told without music. Sometimes our music is sublime, sometimes it’s trashy- but we humans are musical animals, and it’s hard to imagine life without music.
Sunday 17 June 2018: Proper 6
Street Pastors Sunday
10am Morning Worship at St Stephen’s
11.15 am Morning Worship at the Old High
NEWS FROM OUR CONGREGATION
KIRK SESSION AND THE FUTURE OF OLD HIGH ST STEPHEN’S At last Tuesday’s Kirk Session meeting, there was a very frank and open discussion, lasting around one and a half hours, on the future of Old High St Stephen’s. The Kirk Session noted the £40,000 budget deficit forecast for this year. A Motion was made as follows:
The Kirk Session have agreed to have a conversation with Presbytery regarding moving to one place of worship.
This was put to a vote. Sixteen were in agreement with two abstentions, and so the motion carried.
We are due to have our normal, five-yearly, Local Church Review with Presbytery in the autumn, and this decision of the Kirk Session will be taken into that Review. The congregation is a difficult situation. The current Presbytery Plan does not state whether any of our buildings are necessary for the future mission of the Church of Scotland. This could restrict our ability undertake work on the fabric of the buildings, and would need to be resolved one way or another if there were to be a ministerial vacancy. In addition, it is felt that the costs of our two places of worship are a very serious drain on our funds, and as a Kirk Session and charity trustees, this is a major concern for our elders.
The Session asks for the congregation’s continued support and patience we work through these difficult issues. If you require any further information, you can speak to our elders or Session Clerks, or the Minister.
COMMUNITY SURVEY Following the Congregational Retreat back in there ought to have been a report made about the outcome, and we regret this was not done. The main result was that the Session was asked to explore the possibility of a youth or community worker, which they have now begun to do. There will be more detail in the next church magazine.
CONSERVATION AND DEVELOPMENT PLAN FOR THE OLD HIGH CHURCH Some time ago, architect Alan Marshall was commissioned by the Kirk Session to prepare a plan for the future conservation and development of the Old High Church. He presented his interim report to the Congregation on Saturday 2 June. We are glad to say that half of his fees have been refunded to us from the General Trustees of the Church of Scotland. Mr Marshall is now inviting further comments, especially from those who were at the meeting and saw what was proposed. We hope to have his final proposals in a few months’ time. Please send comments to our Church Administrator at invernesschurch<at>gmail.com, or by post to Old High St Stephen’s Manse. For further information, contact Jim Alexander jbdalex<at>yahoo.com.
SUNDAY EVENING DISCUSSION GROUP will meet in St Stephen’s vestry on Sundays 3rd and 17th June and 1st July to complete its reading of Rowan Williams’ book “Being Disciples”. Contact Andrew Stevenson.
FREEWILL OFFERING ENVELOPES for the year commencing 1 July 2018 are now ready for collection from Sandy Cumming sandy.cumming<at>btinternet.com and Christine Mackenzie christinemac73<at>hotmail.com.
CRAFT EVENING St Stephen’s Hall 7.30–9pm, Wednesday 13 June. Come along with your craft or if you wish to learn a craft you will be made very welcome. At present there is knitting, crochet, cross stitch, tapestry and card making but we would welcome any other craft. Refreshments. Margaret McAleer.
OHSS MAGAZINE editor Willie Morrison requires articles and photos for the June issue. Please submit whatever you can, as early as possible, by e-mail to willie<at>kenilweb.com. The deadline is Friday 15 June.
THE SACRAMENT OF HOLY COMMUNION will be celebrated at St Stephen’s on Sunday 24 June. All are welcome at the Lord’s Table. Retiring Offering will be in aid of of Mikey’s Line a text-for-support helpline which is supported by a volunteer bank of young people over weekends. It provides a valuable service for young people who are too distressed to talk over the phone. The Hive, is a drop-in centre in Academy Street, which is run by the Mikey’s Line charity and offers advice for anyone over 17 who feels they need help. www.mikeysline.co.uk. Please give generously to this vital project. Linda Philip lindajphilip<at>hotmail.com
HIGHLAND FOODBANK During the months of June and July the Foodbank would welcome donations of the following: Cartons of Long Life Juice; Breakfast Cereals; Tins of Potatoes, Corned Beef, Tomatoes. Thank you to all who regularly bring donations of food. It is much appreciated. Bill Guthrie williamguthrie<at>googlemail.com
OLD HIGH CHURCH OPENING 2-4pm each Friday afternoon. Summer Opening programme from Friday 1 June to Friday 28 September; opening times: Tuesday to Friday inclusive 10am -12 noon and 2-4pm. Contact Sheila MacLeod macloshei<at>aol.com
OLD HIGH HALLS RENTALS If anyone can take this role on, please get in touch with Christine Mackenzie.
TREASURER VACANCY Sandy Cumming is standing down as our Treasurer after several years of service. We urgently need someone to fill this vital role! If you are interested, or know someone who might be willing to serve in this way, please contact Sandy Cumming.
PASTORAL CARE Peter, or the Rev Arthur Sinclair, our Pastoral Assistant, should be informed of anyone ill at home or in hospital.
SUNDAY BULLETIN ITEMS should be sent to the Church Administrator at invernesschurch<at>gmail.com. Deadline Wednesday at 12 noon. Please keep all items as brief as possible, and include contact details (phone and/or email).
INVERNESS STREET PASTORS (ISP) are trained volunteers from local churches who patrol in teams where they care for, listen to and help people who are out on the streets.Prayer Pastors pray for our community from our base, or at home. Street Pastors speakers will be with us next Sunday, 17 June. Street Pastor Kathy Sutherland and Robyn Teago (ISP administrator) will be at St Stephen’s to give us a Minute for Mission, and Marilyn Armstrong (Street Pastor and Prayer Coordinator) will be at the Old High. The speakers will be available after the services. Further information from Robyn Teago inverness<at>streetpastors.org.uk
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Sunday 19 August 2018: Proper 15
10am Morning Worship at St Stephen's
11.15am Morning Worship at the Old High
Click here for our services in August
Taste and See: sermon for 12 August 2018 (Proper 13)
14th August 2018
Sunday Bulletin 12 August 2018
12th August 2018
Sunday Bulletin Sunday 5 August 2018
5th August 2018
Sunday Bulletin Sunday 29 July 2018
29th July 2018
August 2018 Month of Sundays
29th July 2018
The rhythm of faith: sermon for 22 July 2018: Proper 11
24th July 2018
"Taste and See": Sunday's sermon from our Minister, @peternimmo1