Old High St. Stephen's, Inverness

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Signs of the times: sermon for the Second Sunday of Advent 2018

Scripture readings: 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13

Luke 21:25-36

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

In our culture, we expect this build-up to Christmas to be a busy time of preparation, a mad rush of shopping, preparing food, putting up decorations, getting ready for family visits, enjoying the office party and the works night out. And we clergy are as bad as everyone else, and everyone else knows it, which is why we are so often greeted with ‘This will be your busy time of year’.

For many folk, the pre-Christmas season is very enjoyable- choosing presents for loved ones, baking special Advent and Christmas food, putting up a Christmas tree, enjoying a works night out. But for some it is not so easy. For some people, this is the time they get into debt. There are parents worried about how they can afford to give children the Christmas they deserve. For those who are lonely, or anxious, or bereaved, this enforced jollity can be a bit much.

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Sunday Bulletin 2 December 2018

WORSHIP THIS WEEK
Sunday 9 December 2018: Second Sunday of Advent
10 am Morning Worship at St Stephen’s
11:15am Morning Worship at the Old High
NEWS FROM OUR CONGREGATION
Contact Details from our Church Administrator.
PASTORAL CARE Peter, or your Elder, should be informed of anyone ill at home or in hospital.
PALESTINIAN HANDCRAFTS STALL Today and next Sunday (9 December) I will be running a stall in St Stephen’s with a selection of Palestinian handcrafts. These are beautifully made and can make a perfect Christmas present. For many Palestinian households the women have become the sole wage earners, and these traditional crafts have become a vital source of income. Details at www.hadeel.org Andy Pyott
SOUTHSIDE NURSING HOME There will be a short service, led by Isobel Allan, at Southside Nursing Home immediately after this morning’s service at St Stephen’s. If you are able to assist with the singing, or chatting to the residents, this would be much appreciated. Please speak to Isobel after the service. We still also seek members willing to lead these services on a rota basis. Please contact Janet Robertson
ST STEPHEN’S CHURCH AND COMMUNITY CHOIRS Christmas Concerts at 7.30m on Wednesday 19 and Thursday 20 December 2018. This year’s proceeds will go to the Birnie Centre Toddler Group and Mikeysline. Tickets from Susan MacLeod.
FOOD FOR FAMILIES PROJECT Following another successful year, I am delighted that the project will go ahead once again this year. Last year we provided 2,500 meals, which was a fantastic effort from all the teams involved, and be assured all meals were gratefully received by individuals and families who were in need. We hope to maintain the number of meals delivered this year. Over the last seven years we have all helped to provide 18,200 meals! This year we will cook mince and tatties. All ingredients are provided, and I have put us down for cooking w/c 3 December and w/c 7 January with all meals being delivered by Friday 11 January. The process will be the same as before with the ingredients being delivered for cooking and the cooked meals being picked up by Gateway. The meals will be frozen prior to delivery to local schools, community centres and to families who have been referred from agencies such as Social Work, NHS Highland, Councillors, local community groups and local churches. If you wish to participate please contact Christine MacKenzie
GIVING TREES are now at both churches, so we ask for a thought to be given to those who sadly may not get any sort of small gift at Christmas. This can mean a lot!:
St Stephen’s-Today:. Please choose a label from the Tree and return the red bow for future use. Details of the gifts required are on the labels. Please wrap your gifts, attaching the label for identification and return them NEXT WEEK for subsequent distribution. Gifts are for Beechwood, Cale House, Manna House, Mackenzie Centre, Hilton Village (Social Work) and Porterfield Prisoners’ Children. Info from Cliff Sim.
Old High (in the East Corridor) from TODAY. We will be providing gifts for homeless people, and any of the following would be appreciated – gloves, hats, scarves, socks, underwear or toiletries. A little extra such as a Mars bar or some sweets would be a nice surprise. Gateway advise that at present there are 12 ladies and 28 men who are homeless. Additional gifts would be appreciated for unexpected situations. Wrapped gifts should be returned by Sunday 16 December. Further information from Sheila MacLeod or Liz McKimmie.
OLD HIGH ST STEPHEN’S WINTER WALK AND AFTERNOON TEA today. A short walk, about 30-40 minutes, from Muirtown Locks to Clachnaharry. Cuppa afterwards at the Jammy Piece (JP) cafe at Muirtown Locks. Meet St Stephen’s car park at 2pm for car sharing or at Muirtown Locks beside the JP cafe at 2.15pm, or join us for a cuppa there at 3pm. If the weather is inclement we will still meet for the refreshments. Contact Deborah Macrae or Jennifer Morrison for more details.
WORSHIP TIMES Please note there was a misprint last week in Month of Sundays, our lists of services for December. Our services for Christmas Day and St Stephen’s Day are at 10.30am. You can download the Month of Sundays from our website.
CRAFT EVENING St Stephen’s Hall 7.30–9pm, Wednesday 5 December. Crafters and non-crafters welcome (you may wish to learn a craft). Friendly atmosphere and refreshments provided. Margaret McAleer.
HEALING SERVICE Christian Fellowship of Healing (Highlands) will hold a healing service at St Stephen’s next Sunday (9 December) at 4pm to which all are welcome. Contact David Martin.
CROSSREACH Prayer diary October 2018 to January 2019, Newsletter, and Christmas catalogue now available at church doors. Rae Swan.
SUNDAY BULLETIN Please send items for this sheet to our Church Administrator: Mrs Pat MacLeod (079 342 85924 invernesschurch<at>gmail.com. Deadline Wednesday at 12 noon. Please keep items as brief as possible, and include contact details and/or e-mail.
OTHER NEWS
THE INVERNESS SINGERS present CAROLS AT THE CROWN on Wednesday 5 December at 7.30pm in the Crown Church. Programme of of well-loved Christmas songs and congregational carols. Donations to Mikeysline. Parking in the Crown School playground. Admission by programme (adults £8, children/students £4) from the Music Shop, Church Street, Ken and Margaret Young and at the door.
REASONS FOR HOPE AT CHRISTMAS Seminar on Sunday 9 December at Culduthel Christian Centre, Culduthel Avenue IV2 6AS. An opportunity to be equipped for living out and sharing our faith at Christmas. Two Afternoon Seminars 4.30-5.30pm (Chris Dowling and Alasdair Macleod). Main Session 6–7.15pm ‘The perfect gift’ (Andy Bannister). To book contact Jenny Sinclair or online at culduthelchristiancentre.churchsuite.co.uk.
VOCATIONS INFORMATION DAY on Saturday 9 February at St John’s Episcopal Church, Princes Street, Edinburgh. The day includes an inspirational keynote speech on the Call to Serve Today, practical information and the opportunity to ask important questions about how God might be calling you. We’d like to encourage you to think of anyone you might want to make aware of this opportunity. It is an engaging day, with the opportunity to mix with many at the same stage of exploration, and to hear about the different forms of ministry service in the Church of Scotland. The Vocations Information Day remains the first step in the Discernment Process for anyone wanting to explore the recognised ministries of the Church. Please help us encourage others to explore their call to service further. Spaces are limited – booking essential. To register, contact Ministries Council, 121 George Street, Edinburgh, EH2 4YN xvocation<at>churchofscotland.org.uk

The time is coming… Sermon for The First Sunday of Advent 2018

Scripture Readings:

Jeremiah 33:14-18

Luke 3.1-20

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

We may be governed currently by people who think that experts aren’t important, but I love to listen to an expert who knows his stuff and can explain it to the rest of us- whether it’s David Attenborough on wildlife or Brian Cox on astronomy, or Neil Oliver on history. And I do love Melvyn Bragg’s Radio 4 show, In Our Time, with the best people in their field (there was an excellent one on Dietrich Bonhoeffer recently).

A few weeks ago I heard an expert give a fascinating talk.

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What Kind of a King?: sermon for Christ the King, 25 November 2018

Scripture Readings: Psalm 93

John 18.28-38a

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

On this Sunday which is designated as ‘Christ the King’, perhaps the first thing we should admit is that Jesus nowhere in the Gospels referred to himself as a King. But the word ‘Christ’ in Greek literally means ‘the anointed One’[1]– and as kings are anointed, that implies that Christ is a king of some sort. According to Matthew’s Gospel, when Jesus was born, the wise men from the East came to King Herod looking for a king, and were told to look for him in Bethlehem. Afterwards, King Herod tried to murder the baby king, leading to a slaughter of innocents[2]. And today’s Gospel reading, from near the end of Jesus’ life, puts him once again in front of a secular ruler in Jerusalem, with his life at stake.

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What do we do with our remembrance? Sermon for Remembrance Sunday 2018

Scripture Readings: Micah 4.1-5

Luke 1.67-80

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

Our church buildings, like many church buildings, are full of memorials. There are the obvious ones: the lists of names from both world wars inside St Stephen’s, the congregational memorial on the outside wall of the Old High Church; the Camerons memorial area inside the Old High. We have memorials to memorial to ministers, organists, town worthies, and congregation members in both our buildings. There is stained glass in the chancel of St Stephen’s gifted by a Royal Artillery officer; and at the Old High, another stained glass memorial from a mother to her child. There are number of individual memorials at the Old High, ranging to a memorial to a General Wimberley, who led the 51st Division at Alamein, to the mention on his family memorial of Ensign James Grant who died at the Battle of Waterloo, aged only 15.

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Never Forgotten: Sermon for All Saints Sunday, 4 November 2018

Scripture Readings: 1 John 3:1-3

Matthew 5:1-12

Never forgotten

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

Some years ago I did a primary school assembly on Hallowe’en, and since they’d just had a Hallowe’en disco during the week and I knew it would be on their minds, I thought I may as well talk about it. When I asked them if they would be going out on Hallowe’en, it turned out that the vast majority were planning to- even if nowadays they refer it is as ‘trick or treating’, instead of guising and they lamps of pumpkins rather than turnips. Hallowe’en has changed since I was a lad- too commercialised for me now. But for most children, it’s still a lot of fun, probably because dressing up is such fun.

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What must we do? Sermon for Sunday 14 October Proper 23

Our text from the Letter to the Hebrews today begins with a vivid image:

The word of God is alive and active, sharper than any double-edged sword. It cuts all the way through, to where soul and spirit meet, to where joints and marrow come together.

A sharp sword was the deadliest weapon of ancient times- the Kalashnikov of the Roman era. So this image is like something from a very bloody battle- or a very graphic horror film. A sword that cuts through flesh, joints and marrow is an unsettling thought. And it is used to describe the word of God.

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Speech for Proud Ness by the Rev Peter W Nimmo

Our minister, the Rev Peter W Nimmo, was asked to give one of the speeches for the opening of the Proud Ness event in Inverness on 6 October 2018.

This is the speech he gave, at the Northern Meeting Park, following the parade from the city centre.

The crowd at the Northern Meeting Park as Peter spoke

Good morning everyone- thank you having me. It’s a joy and a pleasure to be here.

I was really surprised to be asked by Highland LGBT Forum to speak today- but I’m also honoured, and deeply grateful.

Inverness is a small city. And many of you will have come from even smaller places around the Highlands. So it’s often hard to connect with the LGBT community in this part of Scotland.

Today is a chance to connect. There is lots of celebration going on. And there’s a great programme of events and stalls here at Eden Court, on the issues LGBT folk face. Fun and educational- what’s not to like about this event?

Compared to the past, we’re living in a time when it’s maybe a bit easier for people to be honest about their sexuality. Yet there are still taboos around sexuality and gender identity issues.

For young people in particular, it can be a struggle. Bullying, and a lack of understanding, can result in mental health problems and harmful behaviour. This is a challenge for schools and mental health services, but also for all of us.

Because young people, and people of all ages, need to have friends to speak to, friends to share their feelings with, friends who will listen, friends who will be kind, friends who will not be judgemental.

I hope today is a signal to LGBT folks in the Highlands that you do have friends who care, and who stand alongside you. Let’s all pledge to be friends to those who need us!

Within the churches, there are folk who call themselves friends and allies. And LGBT Christians do find a home in some churches. But sadly, religious people are sometimes among those who are the least understanding.

Christians have misread the Bible, and used outmoded theology and attitudes, to hurt, discriminate and exclude. We have often acted judgementally and unlovingly towards our LGBT neighbours.

For this, we can only repent before God, apologise to those whom we have hurt, and try to learn how to do better[1].

When I read about Jesus in my Bible, I find someone who challenges the tendency of religious people to make rules which exclude and discriminate. And Jesus assures even those who seem on the edges of respectable society that God loves them. He speaks about loving our neighbour, and not judging others. So, to be a follower of Jesus today is to show love, understanding and respect to our neighbours, whoever they are, whatever their gender identity or sexuality.

Today we are, rightly, focussed on respect for people, regardless of sexuality or identity. But in our world right now, there are loud voices trying to make all sorts of discrimination respectable again. Racism, sexism, bigotry of all kinds seem to be being talked about more and more. Minorities are anxious; hatred is becoming tolerated.

So it’s really, really good to have, here in an Inverness, an event today which is uncompromisingly about inclusion, acceptance and love.

Thanks, again, for giving me the chance to speak today. Enjoy yourselves, everyone!

Rev Peter W Nimmo,

Minister of Old High St Stephen’s Church of Scotland, Inverness

[1] In the Church of Scotland, the General Assembly is the highest authority in the Church. The Assembly of 2017 passed the following deliverance (on the report of the Theological Forum):

3(b) Invite the Church to take stock of its history of discrimination at different levels and in different ways against gay people and to apologise individually and corporately and seek to do better.

Watch the speech here (courtesy of Gèidh.uk)

Thank God for food!: sermon for Harvest Thanksgiving, 7 October 2018

Scripture Readings: Deuteronomy 26.1-11

Luke 4:1-13

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

Sometimes, gratitude is the last things on our mind. We may be dealing with one challenge after another- illness, bereavement, problems with family or work. There are times when it becomes hard to cope, when we are likely to become worried and irritable if we are not careful. We can forget to be thankful.

But in our service today, are called to thanksgiving. We’ve just heard part of the instructions for the people of Israel for celebrating their harvest thanksgiving festival. These are instructions for a farming community, in the days when the vast majority of the people lived off the land. So the command was not that you gave money (as we do week by week in church nowadays), but that you gave a share of the produce of your farm to God- the first part of the crop to be placed on a basket and offered to God.

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A perfect parent: sermon for Sunday 20 September 2018: St Stephen’s Communion service

Texts: Romans 8.14-17

Matthew 6.24-34

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

Someone said to me recently, ‘We were lucky. We had good parents’. Not every child is so lucky. There was once a teacher who taught music in various schools. She had one pupil who played beautifully, who obviously had a lot of talent on her chosen instrument. So one day, the teacher asked the child, ‘What do your parents think of your playing?’ ‘They’ve never heard me play’, replied the child. ‘They never ask me to play’.

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