Old High St. Stephen's, Inverness

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Month: January 2019

A Sign for Our Times: a sermon on the Wedding at Cana, 20 January 2019

Scripture Readings: 1 Corinthians 12:1-11

John 2:1-11

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

The key to the story of the miracle at the wedding of Cana is, I believe, in the very last sentence of the story. It reads:

Jesus performed this first miracle in Cana in Galilee; there he revealed his glory, and his disciples believed in him.

But the Good News translation is not quite so helpful here. The word ‘miracle’ is better translated as ‘sign’, as another translation puts it:

Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.[1]

For a miracle is always a sign of something- a sign that something deeper is going on. In John’s Gospel, the miracles of Jesus play a slightly different role than in the other Gospels. They are a bit like direction signs- they point to something beyond themselves. The signs in John’s Gospel point to the glory of Jesus, and the power and love of God which he is bringing into the world, they are signs of the rule of God breaking into ordinary life. Not everyone will understand the signs. But for those who will see, these signs help us to see who Jesus really is.

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By water and the Spirit: sermon for the Baptism of Christ, 13 January 2019

Scripture Readings: Isaiah 43.1-7

Luke 3:15-22

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

I well remember the day I graduated from Glasgow Uni. For once, I didn’t go the Uni in jeans and a sweatshirt- I had an academic gown to wear. There was lunch in the University dining room with my parents, and a meaningful chapel service, before we went to the Victorian splendour of the Bute Hall for the graduation ceremony itself. Military and police passing out parades, even the school end-of-term prize-giving is the same sort of thing. Such events leave us with no doubt that something important is happening. Perhaps we look back a bit and remember the times we had. But mostly it’s about looking forward, to more responsibilities, a career ahead. It is an end, and also a beginning.

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An unwelcome child: sermon for Epiphany, 6 January 2019

The Magi Journeying James Tissot [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Scripture Readings: Ephesians 3:1-6

Matthew 2:1-18

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

They have haunted our Christmas imagination for centuries. They still haunt our Christmas cards, our carols (of course), our crib scenes. As if first century Bethlehem were not exotic enough for us, they turn up in their rich robes, their fancy camels, with the fragrance of another sort of East about them:

We three kings of Orient are

Bearing gifts we traverse afar

Field and fountain, moor and mountain

Following yonder star.[1]

Not the dusty east of poor Palestinian peasants under Roman occupation, but the spice-laden Persian east, the Aladdin east of our Western imagination- turbans, colourful robes, vast palaces, sultans, minarets and genies, astrology and magic and smoke and mirrors. We do not even know, really, if there were three of them, or even if they were all male, or whether or not they travelled on camels. They are unlikely to be kings, though they were probably advisors to kings. The Bible calls them wise men- magi (we get the English word magic from that word). Much of what we think we know about them comes is, simply, the accumulated imagination of two millennia.

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