Old High St. Stephen's, Inverness

Welcome to Old High St Stephen's Church, Inverness

Month: April 2019

Sunday Bulletin 28 April 2019


Sunday 5 May 2019: Third Sunday of Easter

10am  Morning Worship at St Stephen’s

11:15am Morning Worship at the Old High


TODAY: CONGREGATIONAL SERVICE AT ST STEPHEN’S: ANNUAL MEETING Our Accounts are now available: copies are at the door of the Church, or you can contact our Church Administrator for copies.

CRAFT EVENING St Stephen’s Hall 7.30–9pm, Wednesday 1 May. Crafters and non-crafters welcome (you may wish to learn a craft). Friendly atmosphere and refreshments provided. Margaret McAleer.

Sunday Evening Discussion Group resumes at 7pm in St Stephen’s vestry on Sunday 5 May and thereafter at fortnightly intervals until the summer break. As we move towards the part of the Christian Year that encourages us to look into the world, we shall be dealing with some of the big issues of our time in Sam Wells’ book “How then shall we live?”. Firstly ‘Islam and Islamist Extremism’. More information from Andrew Stevenson.

OLD HIGH CHURCH OPENING PROGRAMME 2019 The Old High Church will be open from 2-4 pm each Friday afternoon from 19 April until 31 May. The Summer Opening Programme will commence on Tuesday 4 June (10am-12 noon and 2-4pm) on Tuesday, Wednesday Thursday and Friday each week. We are organising an Open Afternoon for new Volunteers next month. It is not too late to join the Team. For more information please contact Sheila MacLeod.

St Stephen’s Church and Community Choir present ‘May’s Miscellany’ – a concert to uplift the spirit- at the One Touch Theatre, Eden Court at 7.30pm on Wednesday 8 May. This is our debut at Eden Court where we look forward to your continued support. We are lucky to be supported by two local young musicians, Sandy Scott-Brown (cello) and Catriona Mackenzie (piano) who I am sure will delight you with their skill and musicianship. The proceeds from this concert will go to the Calman Trust. Tickets (£12) are available from Eden Court though please ask any choir member to assist if you have difficulty accessing the box office. Contact Pam McCulloch.

HIGHLAND FOOD BANK I received a letter from Highland Food Bank thanking us for our continued support. The requests for April and May are for deodorant for men and women, tins of corned beef and tins of potatoes. Margaret Neville.

RETIRING OFFERING We collected the fantastic sum of £501.37 for the Flood Appeal for East Africa and the money has now been forwarded to Christian Aid. Ken Cantlay.

PASTORAL CARE Peter, or your Elder, should be informed of anyone ill at home.

CHRISTIAN AID COFFEE MORNING The coffee morning will be held on Saturday 11 May in St Stephen’s Hall from 10am to 12 noon. There will be the usual baking and gardening stalls for which donations will be welcome and they can be dropped off at St Stephen’s vestry on Friday 10 May at 7.30pm. The hall will be available the same evening for setting up. Tickets will be available at St Stephen’s on 28 April and at both churches on 5 May. Further information from Jennifer Morrison.

Old High Music Saturday 18 May at 12 noon will mark the first visit to the Old High by the Mayfield Singers, a Chamber Choir directed by Kate Lewis, Emma Versteeg’s mother. They sing, unaccompanied, a programme including the exquisite Mass in 4 Parts by William Byrd, pieces by Tallis, Purcell and Gibbons and some Madrigals. Come along and enjoy this sacred music in the church setting and have a chance to meet our visitors afterwards. Details from Andrew Stevenson.

READERS AT OLD HIGH WANTED Our band of regular readers at the Old High on Sunday mornings is gradually diminishing. Please contact Margaret Young if you would like to swell our numbers. Thanks.

TABLE FOR SALE We have a handsome wooden table at the Old High Church which is surplus to requirements, and for sale to any member in return for a donation. If you interested, please contact Pat MacLeod, Church Administrator.

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.


INVERNESS STREET PASTORS Prayer Team meetings (all welcome, and feel free to come for just part of the time, whatever you can manage) Fri. 10 May, 10.15 am-11.30, The Hub (supporting day-time city centre patrol) Sat. 18 May, 10.15 am-12.15, The Hub – Sat. morning opportunity for prayer – in support of day-time SP patrol that day, but also wider prayer time.  Marilyn Armstrong prayer.inverness<at>streetpastors.org.uk 8

That you may believe: sermon for Second Sunday of Easter 2019

Today the Easter story continues in John’s Gospel as more of Christ’s followers encounter him, alive, back from the dead. John the Gospel writer especially wants to tell us about two occasions, for it allows him to bring us into the story. We hear of how, on the evening of the resurrection, the disciples meet together. They are furtive, secretive- they have locked the doors, afraid of the Jewish authorities. This is a frightened group of people, people of the world is suspicious, people who are unsure what the future holds for them. Perhaps they are not very unlike us, in this congregation, today.

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Old High Music 2019


Saturday 27th April, 12 noon.                Old High Church, Inverness

A donation of £6 is requested at the door to cover the costs of the music programme

You can download a copy of the Programme here

and the Kevin Duggan poster here

Hope, joy and resurrection! Sermon for Easter Sunday 2019

Scripture Readings: John 20:1-18

Isaiah 65:17-25

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

You couldn’t miss the story of the fire at Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, during this Holy Week. Thankfully, no-one was hurt in Paris, but much worse has happend this morning in Sri Lanka, where many people seem to have been killed and injured in terrorist attacks on hotels, and on churches where people were gathering for Easter Sunday. The people of Sri Lanka really need our prayers today.

In Paris, the damage to Notre Dame wasn’t quite as extensive as the images of the roof ablaze on Monday night first suggested. Those pictures of that great roof on fire were heart rending, but I’m sure many of you, like me, were struck by the images we saw of the inside of the building after the fire; above all, those pictures which showed the great gold cross above the altar, apparently unharmed, amid the rubble, soot and ashes of destruction.

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Old High Church weekday opening

We love to welcome visitors to the Old High Church during the week in the summer months. Friendly and knowledgeable volunteer guides will be happy to meet and you answer your questions. We have information leaflets in various languages.

Current opening times:

Thursdays 10am-12 noon

Fridays 10am-12 noon and 2-4pm

(until the end of October)

Sunday services are at 11.15am: All Welcome

Please note, the church will not be open on Wednesday 11 and Thursday 12 September due to music examinations.

There is lots of history in the oldest church in Inverness. It is also a space for quiet and contemplation: you can leave a prayer on our prayer tree.

Please note that these times may change due to special events or other unforseen circumstances.

We always welcome any new volunteer guides. Please contact our Church Administrator to find out more.

Sunday services are normally at 11.15am, but in August this year our services will be at St Stephen’s.

Holy Week and Easter services

This year we are sharing Holy Week with our friends at Ness Bank Church of Scotland and St John’s and St Michael’s Episcopal Churches. Do join us as we prepare for Easter!

Holy Week 15-19 April 2019


7pm Taizé service at St John’s Episcopal Church, Southside Road



Concert by US student choir at Ness Bank Church


7pm Reflecting on Holy Week at St Stephen’s

Maundy Thursday

7pm Communion at Ness Bank

Good Friday

The Old High Church will be open for reflection, 2-4pm
7.30pm Good Friday Evening Service with Musik Fyne,  St Michael’s Abban Street

Holy Saturday

8pm Easter Vigil at St John’s Episcopal Church, Southside Road

Easter Sunday

Services as usual at 10am (St Stephen’s) and 11.15am (Old High)

The Strange Power of the Cross: Sermon for Palm/Passion Sunday 14 April 2019

Scripture Readings: Luke 19:28-40

Luke 23.1-5, 13-48

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

View of the Scottish Parliament. The ruined Holy Rood Abbey can be seen just behind the royal palace of Holyrood

This week, an American asked my why our Scottish Parliament building in Edinburgh is known as ‘Holyrood’. He said he could see that it was something holy, but what was a ‘rood’? I explained that the Parliament stood near the ruins of the Abbey of the Holy Rood- the word ‘rood’ is an old word, from German or Scandinavian, for a gallows or a cross. In modern English, the area would be called ‘Holy Cross’. Our Parliament’s name reminds us of the central sign and symbol of the Christian faith. A place of political power has a name which reminds us of a powerful religious symbol: the cross upon which Jesus of Nazareth died.

The cross stands at the heart of the Christian story. For the content of our faith is not a list of abstract doctrines, or list of do’s and don’ts: it’s a story- the story Bible tells of God’s dealings with human beings. It is a story on an epic scale, which jumps around different locations- mostly what we call ‘the Holy Land’, but beginning somewhere in modern Iraq, and taking us to Egypt, Sinai, Arabia, Cyprus, modern Turkey, Greece, Malta and Rome. There is war, famine, disaster, as well as joy. All human life is here- friendship, betrayal, love and adultery, politics, deaths and births. All kinds of people are in it- there are acts of barbarity, cunning and evil, as well as acts of kindness and of love. There is faith, and there is faithlessness.

And the climax of this story is one week in Jerusalem. That’s why the Church traditionally makes much of Holy Week, when our thoughts turn to those events in Jerusalem. It’s been called ‘the longest week in history’. A week that begins with crowds welcoming their saviour, and ends with the same crowds turning against him. All played out in a seething cauldron of national and religious passions. For this is an occupied city, ruled by a superpower, but whose people have a staunch sense of their own identity, bolstered by their unique religion- although there are different sects to contend with. Perhaps it wasn’t so different from Jerusalem today.

And into this cauldron Jesus rides on a donkey. And since people in complicated situations very often like simple solutions, they greet him. Surely he’s the Messiah, promised by the prophets. Surely this is God intervening decisively in favour of his chosen people, getting ready to free Israel from Roman rule?

Yes, God is involved- but not in the way they thought. God’s story is not the story the crowds would like to have. By Friday, the sense of disappointment is palpable. He’s not the Messiah they waited for. He’s not done what they expected of him. And behind the scenes, powerful men- their religious elite- have swung the will of the crowd in another direction. Those who on Sunday shouted ‘Hosanna’ will by Friday cry ‘Crucify him!’

It’s one of the great turnarounds in history- how the Jerusalem crowd changed its mind. And it’s frightening story- for we know that this story is true. Not simply historically true- that it happened back then. But true of any crowd of people, in any age. We love to build up heroes, and knock them down. And whereas a few priests and scribes, Pharisees and Sadducees could manipulate the first-century Jerusalem crowd, today our modern media takes these things into a new dimension. Now millions can be swayed to love or hate a public figure by journalists and publicists, or by even by otherwise ordinary people getting caught up in a social media frenzy.

When Jesus stood before Pilate, on trial for his life, he would have known that his public who once loved him had now turned against him. But he was not motivated by some need to be loved by the crowd, like a modern showbiz star. Much more important for Jesus was that he did God’s will. That wasn’t easy- before his arrest, in the Garden of Gethsemane, he prayed that God would take away the fate awaiting him. But in the end, he stuck to his principles. God came before the crowd. The passion of Jesus is, above all, the story of man who did what was right, regardless of what the public thought of him, regardless of the cost to him.

We Christians have thought a lot about Christ’s death over the centuries. The Bible itself, and preachers and theologians since, have seen all sorts of meaning in this death of Jesus. Hymn writers have been inspired by it- Isaac Watts wrote about surveying ‘the wondrous cross’, Thomas Kelly called it, ‘the balm of life, the cure of woe’. Graham Kendrick says that Jesus gave his life ‘that we might live’[1]. The cross, an instrument of his execution- has become the symbol of Christianity. We call the day he died ‘Good Friday’. What can be good about the cross? How can we say anything positive about the spectacle of an innocent man put to death for preaching about the love of God? For surely it’s disturbing to spend so much time reflecting on death, as Christians do? Surely we could find a cheerier story than this to live by?

But I think the story of Jesus’ death cross is a realistic story. For when you think about the story of Christ’s journey to the cross, it brings you face to face with how the world really is if you look at the cross, you’re forced to look at the world as it really is. The political machinations which put Jesus on the cross are revealed for what they really are. For the Roman Empire was built, not on noble ideas, but on slavery, oppression and terror. The religious leaders who put Jesus on the cross are revealed for what they are- not noble guardians of God’s word, but small-minded bigots who would rather an innocent man died than they lost their power over the people.

The cross tells us the truth about power, and corruption, and the depths to which people will sink. The cross tells us the truth about humanity, and so it tells us the truth about ourselves. People who know the story of Christ, and how he came to die on the cross, should not be surprised that people are persecuted for their beliefs. For the story of Christ is the story of a good man who spoke the truth, and was killed for doing so. We who know the story of Holy Week should not be surprised to hear politicians use religion as an excuse to discriminate against others because they are of a different faith, race, or nationality, for the Holy Week story a story about powerful people using religion to whip up hatred. And we who know the story of Holy Week know, in our heart of hearts, that it’s not just other people who are sinners. We know that we, too could so easily have been in the crowd that shouts ‘Hosanna’ on Sunday and ‘Crucify him’ on Friday.

Holy Week is a dark tale of religion being used for terrible ends. And we are all too aware that that still happens today- almost every day we hear on the news of atrocities carried out or prejudices justified by an appeal to one religion or another. In many parts of the world, there are people who rise to power claiming to defend their particular religions community from “non-believers”. This has happened in Islam, it happened in India with Hinduism. The Rohingya people of Burma have been pushed out of their homes in Burma because their Muslim religion is seen as a threat to the Buddhist culture of Burma. Extreme nationalism and bigotry are too often made respectable by claims to be defending religion.

It has also happened many times in Christian history. Leaders love to claim that they have God in their side. Right wing politicians in America have long claimed that their Christian culture is under attack. They use religious language, and stir up people by playing to their religious feelings. We are also starting to see that happen across Europe, too. We hear people talking about how ‘Christian Europe’ is being undermined by various dark forces. Sometimes they blame secularism. Sometimes they blame immigrants, especially Muslims. And sometimes these people who talk about defending ‘Christian culture’ give the game away, when they blame the Jews. For the Nazis, too, used to like to try to use religion to justify what they were getting up to.

Whenever we hear people saying they are trying defend a Christian culture, we should be very, very suspicious. For the chanced are that, like the leaders of Jesus day, they are trying to sway the crowd for their own ends. Holy Week is a story of religious and political leaders manipulating public opinion to make it possible for Jesus to be put to death. And we who know the story of Holy Week should shudder, for we know that it is still possible, and that even in our own age, people can use religion to manipulate the crowd for evil ends.

And so repentance is necessary- and forgiveness is possible. In Luke’s account of the death of Jesus, there is one person- an unlikely person- who understands the need for turning to God:

One of the criminals hanging there hurled insults at [Jesus]: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”

The other one, however, rebuked him, saying, “Don’t you fear God? You received the same sentence he did. Ours, however, is only right, because we are getting what we deserve for what we did; but he has done no wrong.”

And he said to Jesus, “Remember me, Jesus, when you come as King!”

Jesus said to him, “I promise you that today you will be in Paradise with me.”

That second criminal understood that the death of Jesus had meaning for him. And if we can admit that the story of the cross tells us the truth about ourselves- that we are all broken, that none of us is perfect, that we are all make mistakes- terrible mistakes- then we begin to see that the cross tells us the truth about God as well.

We like power, we are attracted by power, but the power of the cross is a strange power. The power of the cross is in its powerlessness. For the cross of Christ shows us a God who does not side with powerful people who think they’ve no need to repent. The God we meet on the cross is a God who stands alongside the weak and powerless and humble. The kingship of Christ is represented by him riding on the humblest of animals, a donkey. The God we find in the story of Jesus is a God who aligns himself with others who suffer. And so even as he dies, he can promise a criminal, another condemned man, ‘Today you will be in Paradise with me’. That’s his promise to anyone who turns to him, in faith and in humility.

The story of Palm Sunday, Holy Week and Easter is full of truth about our world, and about ourselves, and about our God. It reminds us how religion can be misused for evil ends. The cross convinces us of our need for repentance. And it also shows us the means of forgiveness. For we can all pray, ‘Remember me, Jesus’, and know the promises he offers.

Ascription of Praise

To God be honour and eternal dominion! Amen.

1 Timothy 6.16 (GNB)

Biblical references from the Good News Bible, unless otherwise stated

© 2019 Peter W Nimmo


[1] CH4 392, 405, 374

Spring 2019 Magazine

You can download a copy of the latest magazine here

Old High Music 2019

The next event which will be an organ recital by Kevin Duggan will be held on Saturday 27 April 2019 at 12 noon, at the Old High Church, Church Street, Inverness IV1 1EY

You can download the programme here

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