Old High St. Stephen's, Inverness

Welcome to Old High St Stephen's Church, Inverness

Month: August 2018

Sunday Bulletin 19 August 2018

For more information about any event or announcement, please contact us.

WORSHIP THIS WEEK

Sunday 26 August 2018: Proper 16

10am Morning Worship at St Stephen’s

Led by Rev Arthur Sinclair

11.15 am Sacrament of Communion at the Old High

Led by the Minister

NEWS FROM OUR CONGREGATION

YOUR CHURCH NEEDS YOU! Our Action Teams are looking to recruit new members with new ideas. The teams are Finance and Stewardship; Pastoral Care; Outreach and Fundraising;  Worship and Education. Please give this your consideration and if you are willing to join any of these teams please give your name to the Session Clerk. Linda Philip (790253).

DOORS OPEN DAY 1 SEPTEMBER 2018 Both churches will be open from 1030am until 4pm. At St Stephen’s, there will be organ music from 2.30pm provided by Ron Stevenson. There is an A4 printed leaflet giving a brief history of the Church for visitors. Please drop in on the day to show your support. Helpers are needed and if you can spare half an hour, contact Jim Alexander . At the Old High there are guided tours from 1.00pm and music from 1pm to 2pm. If you would like to be in attendance to help on the day, please contact Sheila MacLeod .

TREASURER VACANCY Sandy Cumming is standing down as our Treasurer after several years of service. We urgently need someone to fill this vital role! The Kirk Session have agreed to make payment for this service. If you are interested, or know someone who might be willing to serve in this way, please contact Sandy Cumming.

OLD HIGH CHURCH OPENING VOLUNTEERS will meet on Monday 20 August at 2pm in the Church. If you would like to know more about the Church Opening Programme or would like to become a Volunteer please do come along. For further information please contact Sheila MacLeod.

HOLY COMMUNION will be celebrated at the Old High next Sunday 26 August. All welcome at the Lord’s Table. The Retiring Offering will be in aid 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.

CAMERON HOUSE A short Service will be held in Cameron House next Sunday 26 August at 3pm. (These Services take place on the fourth Sunday of the month and are conducted by Rev Alastair Younger). Members of Old High St Stephen’s who would like to come to help with singing would be welcome. Alastair Younger.

THANK YOU I wish to thank you for the beautiful floral arrangement and the many get well wishes I received recently. It is heartening to know that people care. Best wishes Margaret McAleer.

OLD HIGH MUSIC Saturday 8 September at midday will mark the second public recital by a newly-formed group, the Fliskmahoy Ensemble. Emma Versteeg, along with two other singers and a violinist, are exploring fresh musical forms for traditional Scottish and Irish ballads, and have commissioned new work from Scottish composers, which will feature in the recital. Their recent premiere performance in Dundee was received with much acclaim, so we are fortunate to have the opportunity to hear them at this formative stage in the life of this ensemble. The programme includes renditions of Caller’ Herrin and Barbara Allen and concludes with the Pankhurst Anthem – a piece commissioned by BBC Radio 3 to mark the centenary of women’s suffrage in the UK. This promises to be a fascinating and exciting hour of music. Andrew Stevenson.

OLD HIGH CHURCH OPENING- GAPS IN ROTA The Church has been open 4 days a week 10am-12noon and 2-4pm since the beginning of June but due to unforeseen circumstances there are gaps in the rota on Wednesdays (morning and afternoon) and on a Thursday afternoon. If you can help on either a regular or occasional basis please contact Sheila MacLeod.

NINA WALLIS LEGACY At the last Kirk Session meeting, it was decided that the legacy of £185,771.90 should be used for a specific project, not for day-to-day expenditure. The congregation are therefore invited to send any ideas either to the manse office or be handed to the Minister or Session Clerk.

KIRK SESSION meets on Tuesday 4 September at 7.30pm in Old High hall. Linda Philip.

HIGHLAND FOODBANK During the months of August and September the Foodbank would be grateful for donations of the following items: Tins of Custard/Potatoes/Peas/Carrots; Cartons of Fruit Juice; and Jars of Pasta Sauce. Contact: Margaret Neville

CROSSREACH PRAYER DIARY Latest prayer diary June to September, and Impact report are available at church doors. Contact Rae Swan.

OHSS MAGAZINE editor Willie Morrison requires articles and photos for the September issue. Please submit whatever you can, as early as possible, by e-mail to Willie. The deadline is Friday 14 September.

PASTORAL CARE Peter, or the Rev Arthur Sinclair, our Pastoral Assistant, should be informed of anyone ill at home or in hospital.

SUNDAY BULLETIN The Church Administrator will be on Annual Leave this week so items should be sent to the Minister. Deadline Wednesday at 12 noon. Please keep items as brief as possible, and include contact details and/or e-mail.

OTHER NEWS

AT THE HEART. ON THE EDGE at Ness Bank Church on Tuesday 13 November 10 am to 3.30 pm. Hosted by Rev Fiona Smith, Minister of Ness Bank Parish Church, and Rev Dr Sam Wells, Vicar of St Martin-in-the- Fields. Programme has been developed jointly by Ness Bank Church and St Martin’s. HeartEdge is a growing ecumenical network of churches and other organisations working across the UK and overseas, initiated by St Martin-in-the-Fields. It aims to catalyse Kingdom Communities, both for those working at the heart of commerce, culture and community, and those on the edge. Topics for the day include: liturgy and worship for day-to-day communal life; starting and sustaining distinctive enterprise to generate finance for your church; addressing social need locally; using art, music and performance to reimagine the Christian story. More at https://www.stmartin-in-the-fields.org/life-st-martins/mission/heartedge/. Please register to attend at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/at-the-heart-on-the-edge-tickets-48122091471?aff=eac2 , or contact our Minister, Peter (01463 250 802).

OXFAM SHOP INVERNESS VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES Oxfam are always looking to recruit more volunteers of all ages and abilities, who may have spare time on their hands and may be looking to fill their time and make new friends. If you are interested just pop into the shop in Lombard Street and ask to speak to us.

URBAN SAINTS: DISCIPLES MAKING DISCIPLES on Wednesday 12 September at 7.30pm at Culduthel Christian Centre. An inspiring, fun-packed and faith-stretching evening, where you’ll discover 4 powerful reasons why we should encourage people to become followers of Jesus. Contact Jenny Sinclair, CCC Administrator

ALIVE AND SINGING is a singing group for people and their families recovering from addiction held on Wednesdays (from 7-9pm) on 22 and 29 August. We meet currently in St Andrew’s Cathedral, Inverness. Come along and feel good! Refreshments provided. Contact Sharon Holloway

 

A different sort of wisdom: sermon for 19 August 2018: Proper 15 Year B RCL

Scripture Readings: 1 Kings 3:3-14

            John 6:48-58

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

Today I want to look at just a few verses from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, verses which the Lectionary gives us to read and consider alongside the other passages we have already had read to us today. The letters you find at the end of the New Testament were written to encourage or cajole the earliest Christian communities which were springing up around the Roman Empire in the decades following the resurrection of Christ. They were written at a time when Christians were in a tiny minority, in a multicultural Empire in which Christians were often treated with disdain, disapproval or even open persecution. And I think that today they can speak to us with a new urgency and power, for as Christians living in Europe we also increasingly aware of being a minority in a culture which seems increasingly indifferent or even hostile. Like those first Christians we too are now in a minority. Perhaps, therefore, we can begin to learn from those letters which speak of the pressures and problems which come from being part of a minority faith.

For St Paul, his minority faith sometimes landed him in prison. Indeed wrote the letter to the Ephesians from prison: in this letter Paul calls himself ‘the prisoner of Jesus Christ’[1]; he says he is ‘a prisoner because I serve the Lord’[2]; and that he calls himself an ambassador of the Gospel, ‘even though now I am in prison’[3] . Yet even although he is imprisoned for his faith, the letter Paul writes from prison is surprisingly positive.

The theme of the letter is that in Jesus Christ, all things are gathered together. We live a broken world, says Paul. People are not united in love with one another, but easily become enemies. Even nature itself seems to be governed by struggle, species against species, the survival of the fittest. It is as if division is built into the very fabric of the universe. But Paul argues that God is changing all this. For God has a plan:

‘to bring all creation together, everything in heaven and on earth, with Christ as head’[4].

Through Christ, God is reconciling the irreconcilable. God makes sinners his special people. God is bringing Gentiles was well as Jews into his Church. In fact, all kinds of people- men and women, slaves and free- are now all part of God’s Church, which Paul calls ‘the body of Christ’, with each of them taking their part and contributing to the life of the Church. We are all unique, but in the Church we are united in Jesus Christ, just as one day the whole of creation will be united in Jesus Christ. These are the great themes of this letter, written from a prison cell by someone who might not seem to have much to be joyful or hopeful for.

We heard just a short passage from Ephesians today, but they are words worth pondering, for they are words of advice on how to live as Christians. Paul’s first piece of advice is:

‘be careful how you live’.

That is good advice to a small minority community. Minorities are always treated with suspicion. Because they are seen to be different from the majority, the majority watches them carefully.

I think it must be hard today to be a Muslim in this country. Because as a few Muslims have violent tendencies, the entire Muslim community tends to get tarred with the same brush. And the same is true of active Christians. The wickedness of some Christians tars the rest of us. For example: over the centuries, Christians did great things to look after children in need, children whom no-one else was interested in. But more recently reports of children being abused when they were supposed to be cared for by the Church have led many people to believe that religion has done nothing but harm to children. This is by no means, but for the enemies of Christ it is very convenient myth to spread.

Thus Paul’s advice: ‘be careful how you live’. Be careful how you live, because if you fall into disrepute, you might take the rest of the Church with you. And he also puts it more positively: ‘Make good use of every opportunity you have’. In other words, don’t just avoid mistakes, but do good things and be seen to be doing good for the sake of the Gospel. As Jesus said taught his followers,

‘your light must shine before people, so that they will see the good things you do and praise your Father in heaven’[5].

And the opposite is also true. Where Christians spread only darkness, people see that as well, and they condemn the Gospel because of it.

Paul adds another thought, which helps us to see how we can live to Christian standards:

‘Don’t live like ignorant people, but like wise people’.

Paul is claiming here that wisdom is to be found, not where the world might find it, but in God. Paul, of course, knew the story of King Solomon, of how Solomon prayed for wisdom, above all, and how that was granted by God. But many people today simply do not understand what we mean when we say that God is the source of all wisdom. Our contemporaries have been fed the line that anything to with God is about irrational dogma, superstition, obfuscation. It is easy to convince people of that, because there is in much religion irrational dogma, superstition, and obfuscation. They may be seeking wisdom, but they look everywhere except towards God in their search for wisdom.

Paul can call upon Christians to live like wise people because he knows that people who live close to God are, in fact, close to the source of all wisdom. It is not the Christians who are irrational, but the rest of the world. In the First Letter to the Corinthians, Paul wrote that in many ways the Gospel he preached was apparently a foolish message. For he was going around the Roman Empire telling people that the death on a Roman gallows of an obscure Jewish teacher was the most important event in human history. Jews found that message offensive, and Gentiles found it ridiculous. But for Paul, it made sense in a way which defied logic. Paul said of the Christian message that it

‘is the power of God and the wisdom of God. For what seems to be God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and what seems to be God’s weakness is stronger than human strength’[6].

And so Paul can claim in the letter to the Ephesians that the wisdom by which Christians live is wiser than that the wisdom of the world around us. For the wisdom by which we live is God’s wisdom, which is a wisdom which is not (yet!) understood by those around us. Paul makes a comparison here between how Christians are meant to live, and how their contemporaries often lived. He writes:

‘Don’t be fools, then, but try to find out what the Lord wants you to do. Do not get drunk with wine, which will only ruin you; instead, be filled with the Spirit’.

I suppose many of us think that if we know anything about the ancient Romans, they enjoyed a good orgy! And here is Paul warning against such things. Is he just being a killjoy? Well, I enjoy a drink sometimes, and I’m sure many of you do as well. But we are all aware of the negative effects of overdoing it. And I continue to be puzzled about what has happened in our country over the last couple of decades, during which our politicians, who are, I am sure, mostly men and women who would like to be thought as rational people, introduced policies which, we were told, would make us ‘civilized’ drinkers. But these policies have had the effect of turning the streets of even small towns into no-go areas for many people in weekend nights, putting enormous pressure on accident and emergency departments, and causing unheard-of increases in alcohol-related crime and disease. Where, I ask myself, is the wisdom in all that? This is not just bad policy- it is also the symptom of a spiritual crisis.

For many people the world seems to be so bad that they prefer oblivion to anything else. But Paul is saying the Christians: avoid oblivion, avoid getting your mind so muddled with drink (or whatever). Instead, let God’s Spirit be at work in your mind. Try to hear what it is God is saying to you. Like Solomon, we are to try to share in God’s wisdom.

Paul might not have approved of Roman orgies (or, indeed, much of what happens in Inverness on a typical Saturday night). But he belonged to the Christian Church, and at the heart of the activities of the Christian Church is a gathering of people who come together to enjoy each other’s company and to eat and drink together. In the Gospels we constantly hear of Jesus being someone’s guest, staying at their houses and enjoying their food and drink. And then when he shared the Passover meal for the last time with his disciples, he gave it an entirely new meaning. Ever since, Christians have met together praise God for his goodness, to share the stories of Jesus, and to bring to God their deepest concerns in prayer. And often at the heart of that is the sharing of bread and wine, a way of remembering Jesus, whom Paul calls, ‘the wisdom of God’.

We’ll do that next Sunday, when we celebrate Holy Communion at the Old High Church. Communion is a different sort of feast from a Roman orgy or a night out on the tiles. For when we come close to Christ, as we do in Communion, we are do so not to befuddle our minds, as people do who abuse alcohol. Instead, it is as if, even when we don’t entirely understand it, we come close to God, the source of all true wisdom. When Jesus spoke of being the bread of life, people did not understand him- they grumbled, were scornful, they argued with him. For he did not fit into their way of thinking. They were prepared, at times, to say that he did say things which were full of wisdom. But they could not understand what he meant when he said, ‘I am the bread of life. You must eat my flesh and blood and truly have life within you. I offer you spiritual food and drink, which will bring you eternal life’. And, yes, these are hard things to understand. And if you have no interest in eternal life, if you would rather befuddle your mind instead of seeking divine wisdom, then you will never understand.

But when we Christians worship together, and perhaps especially when they share Communion together, something happens which seems to go beyond mere rationality. We are aware of being drawn together as a people. We are aware of coming closer to God. We are aware that we are getting in touch with a wisdom which is not of this world, but which is a wisdom better than the wisdom of this world.

Paul reckoned that those earliest Christians were living through ‘evil days’- who can blame him for saying so, when he was sitting in prison? So he recommends that Christians should be careful of how they are seen to be living, lest they gave their enemies ammunition to attack Christianity with. And we should make the most of whatever opportunities we have to make a positive impression for Christianity. We should try to be wise, and not ignorant. And in order to be wise, we need to try to walk closely with the source of wisdom. That means worshipping together with our fellow Christians, writes Paul:

‘sing hymns and psalms to the Lord with praise in your hearts. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, always give thanks for everything to God the Father’[7].

That is what we do when we gather to share in worship, especially when we share bread and wine at the Lord’s supper.

When we worship together, we are drawn together and drawn to God through Jesus Christ. He was crushed by the Roman Empire, yet lives. He taught that we should love our neighbour, and his teaching has survived when the teaching of most the Roman philosophers has been forgotten. We remember that he was born in a stable in the reign of the Emperor Augustus- when Roman power was at its height- but we struggle to remember very much about the Emperor Augustus. And that he was crucified at the time when Pontius Pilate was Procurator of Judea is the only reason the name of Pontius Pilate has come down to us through history.

Paul’s message was that true wisdom was to be found in that man who had been crucified by Pilate. It was a message which troubled the Romans, and so sometimes it led to trouble- even prison- for these earliest Christians. For it upset Roman logic- how could a man put to death on a cross be the Saviour of the universe?

But the cross of Christ is wisdom which confounds the world’s wisdom, appealing not just to our minds but to our hearts. For we live in broken world. Too often our personal relations with one another break down. Even the relations between nations break down, threatening the peace. And above all we have broken the link to the Creator God who made us and loves us. Paul says that God in his wisdom plan for repairing our broken universe, and that Jesus Christ is at the heart of that plan. And so Paul could write from his prison cell: ‘In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, always give thanks for everything to God the Father’.

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

Notes

[1] Ephesians 3.1

[2] Ephesians 4.1

[3] Ephesians 6.20

[4] Ephesians 1.10

[5] Matthew 5.16

[6] 1 Corinthians 1.24-25

[7] Ephesians 5.19

Taste and See: sermon for 12 August 2018 (Proper 13)

Texts: Psalm 34:1-8
John 6:35, 41-51
Taste and see

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

At an airport in New York once, I went for something to eat. At the food court, a nice lady with a tray asked me if I’d like to try a nibble of the product they were selling at the nearby fast food counter. I was ready to take some when I noticed that it was a sushi bar. Sushi- Japanese-style fast food- is becoming more and more popular in the US, both in expensive restaurants and as fast food. Now, I will try most kinds of food, and in America it’s nice to find a kind of food that doesn’t involve lots and lots of meat. But I draw the line at raw fish- a bit dodgy. I’m not one to turn down a freebie, but I said ‘no thanks’. I’d rather my fish was cooked, at least a bit!

Read More

Sunday Bulletin 12 August 2018

WORSHIP THIS WEEK
Sunday 19 August 2018: Proper 15
10am Morning Worship at St Stephen’s
11.15 am Morning Worship at the Old High
NEWS FROM OUR CONGREGATION
PASTORAL CARE Peter, or the Rev Arthur Sinclair, our Pastoral Assistant, should be informed of anyone ill at home or in hospital.
OLD HIGH CHURCH OPENING- GAPS IN ROTA The Church has been open 4 days a week 10am-12noon and 2-4pm since the beginning of June but due to unforeseen circumstances there are gaps in the rota on Wednesdays (morning and afternoon) and on a Thursday afternoon. If you can help on either a regular or occasional basis please contact Sheila MacLeod macloshei<at>aol.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.
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.
GIFT AID INFORMATION Those who contribute to the Church under the Gift Aid Scheme, are reminded that from 6 April 2016, Income Tax has not been deducted from dividends. It is important that if you donate under Gift Aid, you ensure that you pay sufficient Income Tax and/or Capital Gains Tax to cover the relief claimed on your contributions. For further information, contact Sandy Cumming sandy.cumming<at>btopenworld.com.
CROSSREACH PRAYER DIARY Latest prayer diary June to September, and Impact report are available at church doors. Contact Rae Swan.
OHSS MAGAZINE editor Willie Morrison requires articles and photos for the September issue. Please submit whatever you can, as early as possible, by e-mail to willie<at>kenilweb.com. The deadline is Friday 14 September.
SUNDAY BULLETIN should be sent to the Church Administrator at invernesschurch<at>gmail.com. Deadline Wednesday at 12 noon. Please keep items as brief as possible, and include contact details and/or e-mail).
OTHER NEWS
ALIVE AND SINGING is a singing group for people and their families recovering from addiction held on Wednesdays (from 7-9pm) on 22 and 29 August. We meet currently in St Andrew’s Cathedral, Inverness. Come along and feel good! Refreshments provided. Contact Sharon Holloway.

Sunday Bulletin Sunday 5 August 2018

WORSHIP THIS WEEK
Sunday 12 August 2018: Proper 14
10am Morning Worship at St Stephen’s
11.15 am Morning Worship at the Old High
NEWS FROM OUR CONGREGATION
PASTORAL CARE The Minister is on holiday. If you have any urgent pastoral matters, please contact your Elder, or Rev Arthur Sinclair.
OLD HIGH CHURCH OPENING- GAPS IN ROTA The Church has been open 4 days a week 10am-12noon and 2-4pm since the beginning of June but due to unforeseen circumstances there are gaps in the rota on Wednesdays (morning and afternoon) and on a Thursday afternoon. If you can help on either a regular or occasional basis please contact Sheila MacLeod macloshei<at>aol.com.
ORGAN RECITAL ON THE WILLIS ORGAN AT THE OLD HIGH CHURCH Saturday 11th August at 12 noon: Adam Parrish: organist in Chesterfield, studied music at York. He performs on organ, piano, and oboe and works as a choral conductor, alongside a career as a composer. Adam has given recitals throughout England including such locations as the Royal Albert Hall and Durham Cathedral. His programme includes work by G F Handel, Edward Elgar, J Strauss and G Verdi, some 20th century English Choral Preludes, as well as Adam’s own arrangements of pieces by G Faure and Rick Wakeman. Recital will last approx. one hour. Donations of £5 at the door are invited to cover the cost of running these events. Further details on Music at the Old High from ohssmusic<at>gmail.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.
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.
GIFT AID INFORMATION Those who contribute to the Church under the Gift Aid Scheme, are reminded that from 6 April 2016, Income Tax has not been deducted from dividends. It is important that if you donate under Gift Aid, you ensure that you pay sufficient Income Tax and/or Capital Gains Tax to cover the relief claimed on your contributions. For further information, contact Sandy Cumming on sandy.cumming<at>btopenworld.com.
CROSSREACH PRAYER DIARY Latest prayer diary June to September, and Impact report are available at church doors. Contact Rae Swan.
OHSS MAGAZINE editor Willie Morrison requires articles and photos for the September issue. Please submit whatever you can, as early as possible, by e-mail to williekenilweb.com. The deadline is Friday 14 September.
SUNDAY BULLETIN should be sent to the Church Administrator at invernesschurchgmail.com. Deadline Wednesday at 12 noon. Please keep items as brief as possible, and include contact details and/or e-mail).
OTHER NEWS
ALIVE AND SINGING is a singing group for people and their families recovering from addiction held on Wednesdays (from 7-9pm) on 8, 22 and 29 August. We meet currently in St Andrew’s Cathedral, Inverness. Come along and feel good! Refreshments provided. Contact Sharon Holloway.

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