Old High St. Stephen's, Inverness

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Category: Sermons (Page 1 of 17)

‘Fire and Water’: Sermon for Pentecost 2018 21 May 2018

Scripture Readings: Acts 2:1-21

 John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15

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

I’m tempted to start today with a poll, and ask you all what you watched on TV yesterday. Did you watch the royal wedding, or the FA cup final? Or did you sit at your computer and watch the live feed from Edinburgh of the opening day of the Church of Scotland General Assembly? Or maybe you read a book, or took a walk in the countryside? (It was my day off yesterday, so as my son, Daniel, was a guard on a steam train on the Strathspey Railway, so I took a trip with him!).

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‘Not just words and talk’: Sermon for Christian Aid Sunday, 13 May 2018

Scripture Readings: 1 John 3.16-24

Luke 24:44-53

‘Not just words and talk’

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

Some time ago, an episode of David Attenborough’s latest series Blue Planet II seemed to make an incredible impression on people. It showed, graphically, the mess we are making of the oceans. Two thirds of the planet is covered by oceans. In the complex ecosystem of Planet Earth, healthy water is essential for a healthy planet- all life depends on it. But we are in danger if slowing killing the seas and the life within them. But way far out to sea, there is tons of plastic floating in the ocean. Not only is it unsightly- it’s dangerous to sea creatures of all kinds. The Blue Planet series was a reminder of how we have failed in out stewardship of creation.

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A Friend Indeed! Sermon for Sunday 6 May 2018 (Easter 5 Year B, RCL)

Scripture Readings: Acts 10:24-48

John 15:9-17

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

There was once a little boy who took piano lessons. Every week, the wee boy would cycle to his teacher’s house for his lesson, and leave his bike propped up against the garden fence. And every week, as the wee boy pushed open the garden gate, he would feel the butterflies in his stomach, for the old man was a strict teacher of the old school. But as the wee boy grew up, he came to love the old man, for that wee boy grew up to be a fine musician, and, indeed, a much-respected piano teacher himself. But then he heard that his old teacher was gravely ill, confined to his bed, and certainly could no longer play the piano- in word, the old man was dying. And so the pianist who had once been the old man’s student went to visit his old teacher one last time. This time he drove to that familiar old house, and parked in the street outside. A student no more, he had become a friend, and after all, he was an adult, a musician, a teacher himself. But as he pushed open the garden gate, he felt, once more, the butterflies in his stomach!

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“Sleepless, far-sighted, weather-beaten…”: sermon for 22 April 2018, Easter 4 (Year B, RCL)

Scripture Readings: I John 3:11,16-18

            John 10:1-20

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

‘On some high moor, across which at night the hyenas roar, when you meet him, sleepless, far-sighted, weather-beaten, leaning on his staff, and looking out over his scattered sheep, you understand why the shepherd of Judea sprang to the front in his people’s history; why they gave his name to their king, and made him the symbol of providence; why Christ took him as the type [or image] of self-sacrifice’[1].

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‘You are witnesses’: sermon for 15 April 2018: Easter 3 (Year B, RCL)

Scripture Readings: I John 3:1-7

Luke 24:36b-48

‘You are witnesses’

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

Something happened at Easter. Exactly what, it’s hard to get our minds around. For the Easter story is of man an innocent man condemned to death. He is executed- slowly, torturously- on a cross. He hangs there until he is dead, and then he is buried. There is no doubt that he was dead.

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Hope- for a change: sermon for Easter Sunday 2018

Scripture Readings: John 20:1-18

1 Corinthians 15:1-11

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

On 14 February this year, classes were disrupted at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, by the sound of shooting. By the time the culprit was taken into custody, 17 children and staff lay dead, with 17 more injured. It was just the latest in a long line of mass shootings that have taken place in American schools in recent decades.

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The Paradoxes of Christianity: sermon for 18 March 2018

Scripture Reading: John 12:20-33

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

Not long after I arrived to study in the United States, I had an appointment at Princeton University. I had so far only been on the campus of the Theological Seminary, where I was studying, and I soon lost my way on the much larger University campus. So I asked a man for directions. It turned out he was a Lebanese, a researcher in physics, who had just been on holiday in Scotland, and recognised my accent. And so it was I that I got an invitation to dinner with him.

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Prophets or prattlers: sermon for 28 January 2018

Scripture Readings: Deuteronomy 18.14-22

Mark 1.21-28

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

Donald Trump has added a few words and phrases to our vocabulary over the last couple of years (some too rude to mention in church!). But I suppose one phrase we will remember him by is the cry of ‘fake news’ with which he describes any news stories which he doesn’t like. Trump has caught the mood of many in the United States, and here in Europe as well, who have become deeply suspicious of what he likes to call ‘The mainstream media’. For it seems that many folk are having trouble sorting out the wheat from the chaff in the media- they don’t know whether what they should believe in the newspapers, radio, television or the internet. Or perhaps many of them do know what, or who, to believe- whatever news agrees with their existing beliefs, or what TV personality or newspaper columnist suits them.

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Fire and fury… and hope- A sermon on Jonah, Sunday 21 January 2018

Scripture Readings: Jonah 3:1-5,10

Mark 1:14-20

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

‘Now Jonah he lived in a whale’. That, in the words of the Gershwin song (sung here by Paul Robeson), is all that many folk know about Jonah. Or perhaps they know a little more of the story of this reluctant prophet. Of how he was asked to preach against the city of Nineveh, and how he decided to avoid the command of God by going in the opposite direction- he boards a ship headed for Spain. But God is not to be foiled. A storm springs up, and Jonah confesses to the terrified sailors that he is the cause of their distress- he has disobeyed the God of the wind and waves. They throw him overboard, and calm returns to the sea. Jonah, meanwhile, is swallowed by his famous giant fish, who spews him up alive on a beach. It is at this point that this morning’s reading takes up the story. So again, the command of the Lord comes to Jonah:

‘Go to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim to the people the message I have given you’[1].

And so, after his fishy adventure Jonah, does finally head for Nineveh, with a stark warning for the people of the city:

‘In forty days Nineveh will be destroyed!’[2]

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‘Come and see!'- Sermon for 14 January 2018

Scripture Readings: Psalm 139.1-18

John 1:43-51

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

Just after I was ordained to the Ministry of Word and Sacrament, I had an experience which reminded me that in this job, I would be working with all kinds of people. I was asked to appear on a late night TV show on Scottish Television in Glasgow. The show was called Trial by Night (there is one episode available on YouTube– thankfully not the one featuring me!), and it was presented by a former weatherman. The other guests were a member of parliament, and young women in a leopard skin dress. In the hospitality suite beforehand, I asked the lady what she did. She said she was a writer, and so I asked her what she wrote. She told me she wrote pornographic novels for women. Well, I thought, if I’d never been ordained I would probably never have met someone who wrote pornographic novels!

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