Old High St. Stephen's, Inverness

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Wisdom’s Call: sermon for 16 September 2018 (Proper 19, Year B, RCL)

Scripture Readings: Proverbs 1:20-33

Mark 8:31-38

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

I read about a survey this week that claimed that men aged between 18 and 34 are so concerned about how they look, they spend two hours a week thinking about what they are going to wear[1]. Once, we gents used to complain that the ladies were keeping us late because they took so long to get ready. Perhaps now the roles are reversed!

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A healing community: sermon for the Kirking of the Council, Sunday 9 September 2018

Scripture Readings: Psalm 146

Mark 2.1-12

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

There is a bit of a hubbub in the lakeside Galilean town of Capernaum. News has got around about a young rabbi from the nearby town of Nazareth, whose preaching and teaching is sincere and heartfelt, and who has also got a reputation for healing miracles. He’s been in Capernaum already, then went on a preaching tour around the local synagogues; now he is making a return visit. This was an age and a place when people had an entirely different attitude from us to personal space and public space. You left your door open as an invitation to anyone to wander in. In a small, humble house, there would be no entrance hall- from the street, you stepped directly into the family’s living quarters.

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A polluted faith, a polluted planet: sermon for 2 September 2018 (Proper 17)

Scripture Readings: James 1:17-27

Mark 7.1-8, 20-23

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

On December 7, 1972, a photograph was taken which literally changed the way we look at the world. It was taken by the crew of the Apollo 17 spacecraft, which was returning from the final manned mission to the moon. It is perhaps the most memorable of all the images of the Apollo missions, but it shows, not the moon, but the earth. Taken from a distance of about 29,000 kilometres (18,000 miles) from the surface from the earth, it showed, almost for the first time, an image of the entire planet: a colourful mixture of blue ocean, white clouds, brown and green earth, set in the background pitch black darkness of space. Nicknamed ‘The Blue Marble’, for that is what it looks like, it is one of the most reproduced images in human history[1].

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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.

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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!

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The rhythm of faith: sermon for 22 July 2018: Proper 11

Scripture Readings: 2 Samuel 7:1-14a

Mark 6.30-34, 53-56

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

Many of us live busy, hectic lives. Our family, or our work, can take up lots of time. Even our ‘downtime’- the things we do in our leisure hours- can be very busy. Often retired people tell me that they find themselves busier than ever. Sometimes you come back from holiday exhausted, because you dashed from place to place sightseeing, or climbing mountains, or meeting all those family members you only occasionally. There are schoolchildren and students who arrive in classes half asleep, because they have been up too late, communicating with friends on the mobile phones. Our culture values doing things, being constantly connected, keeping busy. We find it hard to truly switch off.

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A prophet loses his head: sermon for Sunday 15 July 2018 (Proper 10 Year B)

Scripture Readings: Ephesians 1.3-14

Mark 6.14-29

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

The first message we can take away from today’s gruesome Gospel reading is that a prophet can lose his head. Speaking up for the truth- speaking up for God- can get you into a great deal of trouble.

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Jesus goes home: sermon for Sunday 8 July7 2018

Scripture Readings: 2 Corinthians 12:2-10

Mark 6:1-13

Proper 9 (Year B, RCL)

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

It’s summer time, a time when we often do a lot of travelling. Many of us are getting ready to travel, or are just back from holiday. Some of us have friends and family who recently travelled to come to see us. And we often have visitors from all sorts of places in our congregation at this time of the year (and it’s great to have you with us!).

The Gospel accounts of Jesus’ life tell how, during his short career as a preacher and healer, Jesus was often on the go. Jesus didn’t travel very far, in modern terms. He was active, in a narrow strip of land in Palestine, maybe 50 or 60 miles wide. He got as far north as the area around Tyre, north of Galilee, and to just south and east of Jerusalem- about 100 miles, as the crow flies. I suppose the farthest Jesus ever travelled- that we know about- was when his parents took him as a baby as refugees into Egypt. But today’s Gospel reading has him going home.

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Generous love: sermon for 1 July 2018

Scripture Readings: 2 Corinthians 8:7-15

Matthew 9:9-13, 18-26

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

The most famous tax man in the Bible was a dishonest tax collector called Matthew. He held the franchise for tax-collecting in his area. He collected taxes on behalf of the Romans by whatever means he could, and he kept a percentage. No doubt it was a lucrative business, and it worked well for the Romans. The more tax Matthew brought in, more profit he earned.

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Beneath the surface: Sermon for 17 June 2018 (Proper 6)

Scripture Readings: 1 Samuel 16.1-13

Mark 4:26-34

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

The prophet Samuel was on a mission to find a new king for Israel. At Bethlehem, he was sure he’d got his man when he met Eliab, son of Jesse. He thinks that Eliab has all the right qualifications- an eldest son, he looks the part. We’re told he’s tall and handsome- just how you’d need to look to lead an army into battle. This must be the man, thought Samuel. But God had other ideas. In his heart, Samuel heard God speak:

Pay no attention to how tall and handsome he is. I have rejected him, because I do not judge as people judge. They look at the outward appearance, but I look at the heart.

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