Old High St. Stephen's, Inverness

Welcome to Old High St Stephen's Church, Inverness

Month: November 2018

What do we do with our remembrance? Sermon for Remembrance Sunday 2018

Scripture Readings: Micah 4.1-5

Luke 1.67-80

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

Our church buildings, like many church buildings, are full of memorials. There are the obvious ones: the lists of names from both world wars inside St Stephen’s, the congregational memorial on the outside wall of the Old High Church; the Camerons memorial area inside the Old High. We have memorials to memorial to ministers, organists, town worthies, and congregation members in both our buildings. There is stained glass in the chancel of St Stephen’s gifted by a Royal Artillery officer; and at the Old High, another stained glass memorial from a mother to her child. There are number of individual memorials at the Old High, ranging to a memorial to a General Wimberley, who led the 51st Division at Alamein, to the mention on his family memorial of Ensign James Grant who died at the Battle of Waterloo, aged only 15.

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Sunday Bulletin 4 November 2018

Sunday 11 November 2018: Remembrance Sunday
10:00am Morning Worship at St Stephen’s
11.15am Morning Worship at the Old High
10.55am 2-Minute Silence outside Old High
REMEMBRANCE AND ARMISTICE Everyone is invited to ‘Return to Light: Highland Civic Service at the Old High, marking the Centenary of the Armistice’ at 3.30pm on Saturday 10 November. The candle which has been at Inverness Cathedral since the anniversary of the start of the First World War will return to the Old High. Everyone taking part in the service may, if they wish, join in the Return to Light Parade, which will leave from the Cathedral at 3pm. This ecumenical service will have representatives of communities throughout the Highland Council area. Refreshments in the Old High Hall afterwards. The following day, Remembrance Sunday, our service times will be as usual. Those who wish to join in the nationwide 11am silence may do so at a short ceremony led by the Rev Alastair Younger at the First World War memorial outside the Old High Church, which will begin at 10.55am.
PASTORAL CARE Peter, or your Elder, should be informed of anyone ill at home or in hospital.
SOUTHSIDE NURSING HOME There will be a short service led by Jim Alexander at Southside Nursing Home immediately after this morning’s service at St Stephen’s. If you are able to assist with the singing, or chatting to the residents, this would be much appreciated. Please speak to Jim after the service. We still also seek members willing to lead these services on a rota basis. Please contact Janet Robertson.
SUNDAY EVENING DISCUSSION GROUP at St Stephen’s at 7pm this evening, when we shall discuss chapters 5 and 6 of Philip Yancey’s thought-provoking book ‘Vanishing Grace’. More details from Andrew Stevenson.
OLD HIGH CHURCH OPENING Thursday 1 and Friday 2 November 10am-12 10am-12 noon and 2-4pm. The Church will also be open at these times on 7-9 November, when visitors can view the Queens’ Own Cameron Highlanders Memorial area, and also see a display illustrating life in Inverness during World War 1. Further information from Sheila MacLeod.
CRAFT EVENING St Stephen’s Hall 7.30–9pm, Wednesday 7 November. Crafters and non-crafters welcome (you may wish to learn a craft). Friendly atmosphere and refreshments provided. Margaret McAleer.
BLYTHSWOOD BOXES This is the 25th year of the Blythswood Appeal. Why not bring some happiness to someone in need this Christmas? Fill a shoe box with simple gifts and it will bring untold joy to someone who never gets a present. Leaflets with all the necessary instructions at the Church doors. Bring your box back to Church or deliver it to Blythswood Care. Details: Jaye Rankine
PIANO RECITAL OLD HIGH CHURCH Saturday 17 November, 2.30pm. Local piano teacher Ian McTeer will perform favourite piano repertoire including Beethoven’s ‘Moonlight Sonata’, a Bach Toccata and Fugue, ‘Claire de Lune’ by Debussy, Rachmaninov Elegy and Preludes, and conclude with Liszt. Tickets £7 at the door. Contact Andrew Stevenson.
CHRISTMAS FAYRE Saturday 24 November,10am to 12 noon, St Stephen’s. Coffee/tea and mincemeat pie/shortbread £3. Donations for Gift Stall, (only new items please) Raffles and Baking will be gratefully received. Anyone able to help on the day and/or setting up on Friday evening will be most appreciated- contact Margaret McAleer.
CROSSREACH Prayer diary October 2018 to January 2019, Newsletter, and Christmas catalogue now available at church doors. Rae Swan.
OHSS MAGAZINE Willie Morrison urgently requires articles and photos for the December issue. Please submit whatever you can, as early as possible, by e-mail.
OLD HIGH ST STEPHENS WINTER WALK AND AFTERNOON TEA on 2 December. A short walk, about 30-40 minutes, from Muirtown Locks to Clachnaharry. Cuppa afterwards at the Jammy Piece (JP) cafe at Muirtown Locks. Meet St Stephen’s car park at 2pm for car sharing or at Muirtown Locks beside the JP cafe at 2.15pm, or join us for a cuppa there at 3pm. If the weather is inclement we will still meet for the refreshments. Contact Deborah Macrae or Jennifer Morrison for more details.
SUNDAY BULLETIN Please send items for this sheet to our Church Administrator: Mrs Pat MacLeod (079 342 85924) invernesschurch@gmail.com. Deadline Wednesday at 12 noon. Please keep items as brief as possible, and include contact details and/or e-mail.
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.
INVERNESS STREET PASTORS COMMISSIONING SERVICE on Friday 16 November, 7pm at the Junction Church, Bank Street, Inverness. Contact Robyn Teago.
HEALING SERVICE Christian Fellowship of Healing (Highlands) will hold a healing service at St Stephen’s next Sunday 11 November at 4pm: all welcome. Contact David Martin.

Never Forgotten: Sermon for All Saints Sunday, 4 November 2018

Scripture Readings: 1 John 3:1-3

Matthew 5:1-12

Never forgotten

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

Some years ago I did a primary school assembly on Hallowe’en, and since they’d just had a Hallowe’en disco during the week and I knew it would be on their minds, I thought I may as well talk about it. When I asked them if they would be going out on Hallowe’en, it turned out that the vast majority were planning to- even if nowadays they refer it is as ‘trick or treating’, instead of guising and they lamps of pumpkins rather than turnips. Hallowe’en has changed since I was a lad- too commercialised for me now. But for most children, it’s still a lot of fun, probably because dressing up is such fun.

The custom of dressing up in scary costumes for Hallowe’en- ‘guising’, to use the good old Scots word- goes back to the old pagan beliefs about keeping evil spirits out of our way. Indeed, perhaps some of the traditions of Hallowe’en predate Christian influence on our culture. Some boring Christians are killjoys who want to abolish Hallowe’en, but for most children it brings harmless enjoyment. What child doesn’t enjoy dressing up, and being given sweets just for telling a few bad jokes?

When I spoke to the school assembly, I reminded them, as I always do when speaking to children about these things, that there is, of course, no such thing as ghosts. We might enjoy a wee scare sometimes, but there is nothing supernatural for us to be frightened of. I say this with great confidence, for one of my favourite passages of scripture- it was the sermon text at my confirmation- comes from Paul’s Letter to the Romans, where he writes,

I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.[1]

In other words, there is nothing we need to be afraid of. There are no ghosts and ghouls which can hurt us. When it comes to the supernatural, we have, as someone said in another context, nothing to fear but fear itself.

I suspect that many people mark Hallowe’en nowadays without knowing where the word comes from. But no doubt you all know that Hallowe’en is, of course, All Hallow’s Eve, the day before All Saints Day. All Saints is the date when, in many parts of the Christian church, Christians remembered those who had gone before us, and who are now in God’s presence.

Both Hallowe’en and All Saints are, in different ways, about the dead. Hallowe’en reminds us of an age when people believed that the spirits of the dead could come back to haunt us. The costumes at Hallowe’en- the dis-guises- are an attempt to ward off malevolent spirits. At Hallowe’en, death is associated with fear, the supernatural, and darkness.

But the Christian conception of death is quite different from the pagan conception. We believe that God loves us- even into eternity. Nothing- not even death nor life- cannot separate us from God’s love. Our first scripture reading today urges us to,

See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God.

In God’s love, we are as secure as children of our loving creator God.

So perhaps that’s why Jesus speaks, in the sermon on the mount, of even those who mourn being blessed.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

he says. Jesus is not saying that we should never mourn. Of course we do. Mourning is often to do with change, for there is often loss in change. Losing a loved one is a great change in anyone’s life, or losing your job, or moving out of a house which has been a beloved home for many years- all these are changes, and we mourn what has now passed.

Even if a change seems positive- for example, retirement- still we will often feel a loss- no more job to go to every day, we will miss seeing our colleagues every day. Parents might be delighted that their child gets into university, but the day of leaving home is tinged with sadness. For many of us, even changes within the life of the church make us mourn. It’s hard to have change without loss, and we have to mourn the loss.

And death, of course, is the greatest change of all, and the source of our deepest mourning. For the loss of someone close to us can leave us in deep despair, at least for a time. And yet, in the sermon on the mount, Jesus says that those who mourn are blessed, and will be comforted. Blessed by God, and comforted by God.

One of the leading causes of death in our society nowadays is dementia. There are few of us here, I suspect, whose lives have not been touched by this terrible disease. Those who watch a family member suffer from dementia often suffer go through a strange kind of loss and mourning. The loss of memory in the patient is often experienced as a kind of loss of personality by those closest to her. Families and friends have to watch a loss of memory, a loss of awareness, and experience their loved one seem to disappear down a long tunnel, until, even although they are physically there, they are no longer present psychologically. It’s a state which can continue for months or even years, so that when a dementia patients dies, there is often a feeling among families and friends that they lost her long ago, and that long before the funeral they had already been mourning her.

And yet, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says that, even in these terrible circumstances, God blesses us as we mourn, God bring us comfort. For Christian people, some of that comfort comes from knowing that there is a God, and that the God who created us in love never lets us go. Neither death nor life can separate us from the love of God who calls us his children.

We forget- most dramatically if our brain is affected by Alzheimer’s or some other disease which takes away our memory. But even healthy people forget. As time goes on, we don’t remember the details of everything we did, every experience we had- our brains would burst otherwise! It’s hard, however, when we forget the wrong things- a face we ought to have recognised, an important birthday, the knowledge we need for an exam- or, as I did recently, leaving my bag in a cafe (I was sure I’d picked it up!). We have a limited capacity for remembering- it’s natural for us to forget.

God, however, is not limited in any way. God, I am sure, remembers all his children. Not just during their life on planet earth, but also when they leave this mortal life. Once or twice I have had to do funeral services for people so lonely, nobody or hardly anybody turned up for their funeral. Perhaps one or two family members, if we were lucky, who hadn’t seen him for years. I had a name, but I didn’t at all know who he was. But in those circumstances, my faith tells me that God knew this person. I might not have known their story, but God did.

It was, I believe, Rudyard Kipling who composed the inscription which was carved on thousands of gravestones after the Great War, the victims who could not be identified: ‘Known unto God’. We might not know their names, but God does.

And if God cares for us, remembers us, during this life, then surely God does not forget us when we leave this life? Maybe that’s another way of thinking about what life after death might mean. We may pass from the face of the earth, eventually even passing from the memories of those whom we have known, but in the mind of our eternal God, we are always present.

Our contemporary culture has a great unease about death- it’s become a taboo subject. Could it be the reason for that is that people have forgotten the great promises of the Gospel of the resurrection?

In my Father’s house there are many dwelling-places[2]

said Jesus to his disciples, just before he faced his own death. That promise has helped millions of his followers to understand death, not as an end, but as another change in our journey. Death for Christians is not the end- it is the beginning of something new.

All Saints Day is one of those days which Protestant Christians in this country often ignore. Perhaps we worry about celebrating saints, and forgetting to worship God. But I think All Saints is really about God. Yes, we can use this day to we can remember, and celebrate the saints who came before us. But we do so best by thanking God for them. And if there is an afterlife, it’s God we have to thank for that as well- because all these saints are held in life by God’s memory, even when they pass from our sight.

Hallowe’en reminds us of old pagan fears of death, and the dead- things to be feared, things to avoid, things to give you the creeps. But if we believe that we are children of God, if we believe that we are each of us loved by God, and if we believe that God’s love for us is not defeated by death, then we can say, with St Paul,

O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?[3]

And so All Saints Sunday becomes a celebration of life- our life now, but also the continuing life of the saints in God’s presence, and our own hope of eternal life because we are God’s children.

It’s sometimes thought that those who believe in a life hereafter are not very interested in this life. But if we truly believe that death can’t defeat God’s love, then there is comfort for us, and the strength to pass through our mourning and to continue with our life with even more vigour. And if we believe that God cares for all people, even those forgotten by other people, then we will be motivated, surely to care for and love others. And even if we find ourselves having to care for someone who has forgotten who we are, and even forgotten who they are themselves, we can blessed and comforted by the knowledge that God has not forgotten them- or us.

See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God.

says the letter of John. It’s through Jesus and his resurrection that we have been made children of God; it’s all because of God’s love. And John goes on to say,

we are God’s children now; [yet] what we will be has not yet been revealed.

There is a promise of even greater things in store for us. Today, we give thanks for the saints who loved others because they were loved by God- and we look forward to a future better than we can even conceive of. Death, loss and mourning are never easy; but Christ helps us make sense of them. So we can give thanks to God, not just for the past, but for the future- a future which we cannot know, but in which we will all still be known by our loving creator God.

Ascription of Praise

Blessing and glory
and wisdom and thanksgiving
and honour and power and might
be to our God forever and ever! Amen.

Revelation 7.12

Biblical references from the Good News Bible, unless otherwise stated

© 2018 Peter W Nimmo


[1] Romans 8.37-38 NRSV

[2] John 14.2 NRSV

[3] 1 Corinthians 15.55 AV

Return to Light: Highland Civic Service marking the Centenary of the Armistice Old High Church

We will be hosting “Return to Light”, a Highland civic service marking the Centenary of the Armistice, which ended the First World War. Everyone is invited to join us at the Old High Church on Saturday 10 November at 3.30pm.

A memorial candle, which was lit at the Old High in 2014 and has been burning since in Inverness Cathedral, will be will be taken in procession from Inverness Cathedral and returned to the Old High Church to mark the end of the hostilities of the First World War. The processions leaves the Cathedral at 3pm, for the Old High service at 3.30pm.

Members of the public are invited to come and view or follow the parade and/or to attend the Old High Church service.

The Saturday afternoon prior to Armistice Day was chosen for this event so that anyone can attend both the Highland-wide commemoration and their local remembrance services the following day. More information on the Highland Council website.

You are also most welcome to join us for our Remembrance Sunday services on 11 November- 10am and St Stephen’s and 11.15 at the Old High Church.

Also, the Old High Church will be open on 7, 8 and 9 November from 10am-12 noon and from 2-4pm. During these three days visitors can view the Queens’ Own Cameron Highlanders Memorial area within the church, and also see a display illustrating life in Inverness during World War 1.

Funeral Announcement – Mr David Anderson

Mr David Anderson, Grigor Drive, Inverness, died on 23 October 2018.

Mr Anderson’s funeral service will be held on Friday 2 November 2018 at 2pm at Inverness Crematorium, Kilvean Road, Inverness IV3 8JN

The Funeral Directors are John Fraser & Son, 17-29 Chapel Street, Inverness (01463) 233366

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