Faith in public: sermon for 29 June 2014 communion at St Stephen’s

Old High St Stephen’s, Inverness
Sunday 25 May 2014: Year A, The Fifth Sunday of Easter

SERMON
Texts: Acts 17:16-31
John 14:15-21

Faith in public

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

In the Church of Scotland, all our Sunday services are traditionally described as ‘public worship’. For the death and resurrection of Jesus were public events. But how do we proclaim this in the public arena, how do we take this message into the world? Today’s reading from the book of Acts gives us some clues about how we can do it. It tells a story about St Paul visiting Athens. Luke, the writer of Acts, says that ‘all the citizens of Athens and the foreigners who lived there liked to spend all their time telling and hearing the latest new thing’. It was a world city, a centre of civilisation and philosophy, at the crossroads of east and west, multicultural and multiethnic. Paul must have been fired up by the opportunities it presented to argue out the case for the Christian message with representatives of all the other competing philosophies of the day.

Continue reading

A Respectful Dialogue on Independence: Thursday 26 June at Inverness Town House

A RESPECTFUL DIALOGUE A Debate on the Independence Referendum, chaired by Rev Jan Mathieson, Cawdor and Croy Churches. Blair Jenkins, Yes Scotland, will be debating with Mike Robb, Labour Party. All welcome. Thursday June 26, Inverness, 7.30pm.

The ‘respectful dialogue’ term was used for an event held during the recent General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. The dialogue was chaired by the Moderator of the General Assembly, the Rt Rev John Chalmers. Previously, he had written in an article for the Sunday times:

‘In Scotland, as we stand on the threshold of the most important decision that the Scottish people have faced in peacetime history, we do not need a highly emotive and deeply personalised public rammy…. We need a Respectful Dialogue about Scotland’s future whether it is as an independent nation or as part of the United Kingdom. I am confident that the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland can model the way in which this dialogue should be conducted and I am equally confident that if the Better Together and the Yes campaigners conduct themselves in the same way, then post-referendum healing and recovery will be much more manageable’.

The Moderator has also spoken of the need for respectful dialogue in a recent Scotsman article.

Although this even is not organised by the churches, I hope many Christian people will want to support it.

Magazine for June 2014

The latest edition of our church magazine is now available online. This is a downloadable PDF file.

Please contact us if you would like a printed copy.

Here is the minister’s letter from the magazine, which previews changes coming in the life of the congregation.

Dear friends,

There are lots of things in this magazine, but there are two items which are important for us as we look to the future of our congregation. Continue reading

Services during the summer

Here is a list of services for the summer period.

Please note that:

  • there will be a congregational service this coming Sunday at St Stephen’s, with no service at the Old High
  • the St Stephen’s June Communion has been changed from 22 June to 29 June

Print out the leaflet and put it on your fridge or somewhere handy so you can see what’s going on!

Religion in schools again

With the ‘Trojan Horse’ claims that schools in Birmingham were the targets of takeovers by Muslim extremists, the place of religion in schools is back in the news again.

Perhaps it’s worth recognising that the schools involved are in England, and that they are what in Scotland we call non-denominational schools, ie not formally linked to any church or other religious group.

Earlier this year, I spoke about the place of religion in schools in a sermon. I wrote as a parent, a school chaplain, and a member of the Church and Society Council of the Church of Scotland.

You can read the sermon here. Comments welcome!

Peter

God of many names- a sermon for Trinity Sunday 2014

Old High St Stephen’s, Inverness
Sunday 15 June 2015: Year A, Trinity Sunday

SERMON
Texts: Genesis 1:1-2:4a
Matthew 6.24-34

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

There’s a joke about a man who was once asked what he had wanted to be when he grew up, who answered, ‘When I was growing up, I wanted to be an orphan’! Fortunately, for most of us and for most of the time, our parents provided security and love as we grew up. And so, on this Father’s Day, as on Mother’s Day, children say ‘thanks’ to their parents; and parents ponder what their children have meant to them. Family relationships are often deep and enduring. But they all have their ups and downs. Some are frankly disastrous, which is why not everyone feels they can celebrate Fathers’ Day and Mothers’ Day. For we humans are not perfect. Our relationships are not perfect. Not all children are perfect, and not all parents are perfect. Continue reading

Gifts for all: a sermon for Pentecost Sunday 2014

Old High St Stephen’s, Inverness
Sunday 8 June 2014: Year A, Pentecost
SERMON
Texts: Acts 2:1-21
1 Corinthians 12:3b-13

Gifts for all

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

I’m having an ecumenical week this week. On Wednesday night, we hosted a service at the Old High church for the local Methodist community, at which the President of the Methodist Conference, the Rev Ruth Gee, was the preacher. We were remembering first visit to Inverness of the founder of Methodism, John Wesley. Wesley was one of the most remarkable men of the eighteenth century. He sought to bring to ordinary people a much warmer, more personal, experience of Christianity than was commonly found in the 18th century Church of England. Continue reading

Presence in absence: sermon for Ascension Sunday 2014

Old High St Stephen’s, Inverness
Sunday 1 June 2014: Year A, Ascension Sunday

SERMON
Texts: Acts 1: 1-11
Ephesians 1:15-23

Presence in absence

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

Saint Paul has the reputation for being a grumpy sort of guy. That’s because his letters were often written in reply to questions and controversies, and his replies are often passionate and critical. ‘You foolish Galatians! Who put a spell on you?’ he exclaims in exasperation to the Christians of Galatia (Galatians 3.1). But the tone of the letter to the Ephesians is rather different- so different that many scholars have suggested that it was not Saint Paul who actually wrote the letter. Maybe it was just that the occasion was different- Paul writes, for once, to praise a group of Christians. Just before the passage we heard read to us Paul has written of how the Ephesians came to faith when they believed in Jesus. And so he writes: ‘For this reason, ever since I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all of God’s people, I have not stopped giving thanks to God for you. I remember you in my prayers’. These are great words of encouragement. Continue reading