Old High St. Stephen's, Inverness

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Category: Sermons (Page 2 of 18)

“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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With water and the Spirit: Sermon for 11 January 2017

Texts: Genesis 1:1-5
Mark 1:1-11

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

I hope you all left your Christmas decorations up until yesterday! Yesterday was Twelfth Night, the last of the Twelve Days of Christmas. So Christmas is now officially over. And now, having celebrated the birth of our Saviour, the Church moves- very quickly- to think about what this all means for us.
So, on this first Sunday of the New Year, we hear about a new beginning in our Gospel reading. Our Gospel passage takes us back to Advent first- reminding us of the strange figure of John the Baptist, calling on the people to repent. But surprisingly, we find ourselves encountering the adult Jesus today, as he come to experience the baptism which his cousin John offers. But what is this about? Why has Jesus come for baptism? And what does it mean for us?

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No room at the inn?- Sermon for Christmas Eve 2017

Scripture Reading: Luke 2.1-7

No room at the inn?

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

‘…there was no room for them to stay in the inn’.

Those last words of our Bible reading tonight are terrible words. There is no room for a woman, who has travelled a long way, and who is about to give birth. No room for her faithful husband, who has come all from Nazareth with her, because the Emperor Augustus demanded it. No room for the child who is born, not even a place to lay him- just an animal feeding trough.

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The Word is not a Book- reflection for Service of Lessons and Carols, 24 December 2017

The Prologue to John’s Gospel is one of my favourite Bible passages. Normally, it’s the stories I enjoy most. But this most mysterious of passages is the one which puts the stories into context. For this is how we make sense of the Christmas story, how we make sense of all the stories of the Bible, how we make sense of Christ:

‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God’.

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