Sunday Bulletin for 14 December 2014

WORSHIP THIS WEEK
Sunday 21 December
11.15am Congregational Service – Service of Lessons and Carols at Old High followed by Christmas Lunch
CHRISTMAS SERVICES AT OLD HIGH ST STEPHEN’S
Christmas Eve
6.30pm All Age service at St Stephen’s
11.30pm Watchnight Service at St Stephen’s
Christmas Day
10.30am Christmas Day service at St Stephen’s (bring your gifts along!)
St Stephen’s Day (26 December)
10.30am St Stephen’s Day service at St Stephen’s
Please note that, contrary to the Month of Sundays, our Christmas Day and St Stephen’s Day services at Stephen’s are at 10.30am.
SUNDAY BULLETIN ITEMS should be sent to Jim Monro:
jim@jimmonro.com
The deadline for all items is Wednesday at noon
NEWS FROM OUR CONGREGATION
For further information and contact details for any items listed below:
E-mail:invernesschurch@gmail.com
CHURCH ACTION PLAN & OLD HIGH HALLS The Action Plan on property and finance, which has been adopted by the Kirk Session, was published in the last edition of the Church Magazine (anyone who has not received a magazine should contact our Session Clerk, Linda Philip lindajphilip@hotmail.com). We plan to hold an Information Evening for the congregation on Tuesday 13 January from 7-8pm at the Old High Hall when there will be a chance to ask questions and make suggestions about the Action Plan. We hope everyone will want to come along and find out about the Session’s plans for the future of the congregation. If you require a lift to the meeting, please contact your elder.
One item on the Action Plan was to consider the future use of the Old High Hall. We have received an approach from local charity Birchwood Highland, an excellent Inverness mental ill-health charity established over 25 years ago (birchwoodhighland.org.uk). Their best known project is the recovery centre off Muirfield Road, just behind the old Hilton Hospital. Birchwood urgently require new office and meeting space, and have identified the Old High Hall as possibly suitable for their needs. As this would mean us giving up part of the halls for Birchwood’s exclusive use, and involve internal changes to the building, we now require the approval in principle of the Presbytery of Inverness. Their Property Committee meets in January, and require that the congregation be consulted on the suggestion. We therefore have to hold a short meeting, for this purpose only, following the 11.15am congregational service on 21 December at Old High (just before our Christmas lunch). The Kirk Session warmly commends this idea for the congregation’s consideration, as it could help us secure the future Old High Halls, as well as giving much needed help to an excellent local charity. Any final agreement with Birchwood would need to be approved later by the Church of Scotland’s Law Department and General Trustees, and by the congregation. At this point, what is needed is the congregation’s approval in principle to explore the idea. More details will be available next Sunday, but if you require more information beforehand, please contact our Session Clerk, Linda Philip (details above). We hope for a good attendance at this meeting from all parts of the congregation, as this is a vital matter for us all, regardless of whether we worship normally at St Stephen’s or at the Old High.
Please note that because of the time of year and time constraints, the meeting on Sunday 21 December will only be about the hall proposal, but the meeting on January 13 will be about all aspects of the Action Plan.
CHURCH ADMINISTRATOR Pat Macleod is now settling into her role as our church administrator. Pat works from home, and you can contact her at (invernesschurch@gmail.com ).
OLD HIGH GIVING TREE will be in the east corridor today. Alex Gilchrist (Homeless Trust) says there are about 50 homeless, roughly half men half women. All gifts in the past have been gratefully received and your continued generous support will be much appreciated. Toiletries (alcohol free), hats, gloves, scarves and socks are always welcome. Please wrap each item separately to ensure fair distribution. Queries Sheila MacLeod or Diana Fraser.
ST STEPHEN’S GIVING TREE Presents for the Giving Tree should have been returned by 14 December. However if you have forgotten to bring your gift you can still deliver it to Cliff Sim, not later than 17 December. Many grateful thanks to everyone who gave generously to the needy people in our city. Your gift may be the only one someone gets!
HEALING SERVICE There will be a healing service in St Stephen’s on 14 December at 4pm to which all are welcome. Contact Ruth Martin.
SOCIAL & FUNDRAISING ACTION GROUP raised £311 at the Whist Drive on 2 December. Thanks to all who donated/participated. Grateful thanks to Kate Leckie who organised the evening.
HOBBY CRAFT EVENINGS will recommence in the middle of January.
CONFIRMATION CLASS for anyone wishing to become a full member of the church will run in the New Year. Please contact the Minister if you are interested (peternimmo@minister.com).
OTHER NEWS
THE OLIVE GROVE has been run entirely by volunteers for five and a half years. Currently, there are a few spaces which need to be filled to continue the smooth running of the tearoom. If anyone can spare 2 hours per week in the New Year, they would be delighted to hear from you. Working in one of the teams is a hugely enjoyable experience for both men and women. Please drop in to talk to us, or contact Eileen Ardern.
FOOD FOR FAMILIES Highland Homeless Trust is arranging this project this Christmas – throughout December and into the first week in January. Hopefully we can manage to provide teams to do cooking w/c 8 December and 5 January. All ingredients are provided together with containers and this year there is a choice of cooking: Vegetable Broth, Mince & Tatties or Spaghetti Bolognese. Contact Christine MacKenzie christinemac73@hotmail.com for further details.
CROSSREACH (the social work branch of the Church of Scotland) have a specialist dementia Care Home, Cameron House, at Culduthel Road, Inverness. They are currently recruiting for Relief Care Workers and Relief Housekeeping Assistants. Full training will be given. For more information or an application pack please contact the Service Manager, Pat Birse.
CROWN CHURCH QUIET DAY Saturday 20 December, 12-4pm. Experience the peace and beauty of the candlelit Crown Church, a haven from the bustle outside. Come and go as you please. Refreshments (small charge) available. Details from David Crippin crippin@nildram.co.uk.

For such a time as this: a sermon on Esther for Advent 2

Old High St Stephen’s, Inverness
Sunday 7 December 2014: Narrative Lectionary, Advent 2
SERMON
Texts: Esther 4.1-17
Matthew 5.13-16
For such a time as this

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

I mentioned last week that we were embarking on a bit of an adventure as far as our Sunday Bible readings are concerned. We are using a new system of readings for each Sunday. Such a table of readings is called a lectionary, and for the first time in many years I’ve decided to change the lectionary I use from week to week.

The Narrative Lectionary seeks to take us through the broad sweep of the biblical story, but as we get into Advent you may feel you are missing some of the familiar characters we tend to come across at this time of the year. Don’t worry- Mary and Joseph and the angels and shepherds are coming soon. But as we prepare for Christmas this year, we’re mostly in the world of the Old Testament. Last week, the prophet Habakkuk encouraged us to look around and have faith that God will come and save his people. This Sunday, we are in a different time, and again we hear a story of salvation.

This week, I was reading Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson (not for the first time). It’s set in eighteen century Scotland, following the 1745 Jacobite rebellion. There various settings which are colourfully described- Edinburgh, Queensferry, Mull, Appin and other parts of the Highlands. And at its heart is an actual event, the ‘Appin Murder’, of 1752. Many of the characters are real people, but although it is, essentially, a fictitious adventure story- an historical novel, a story weaved around historical events.

The Book of Esther tells a story which is set in the Persian Empire, at the time when the people of Israel, defeated in war, are mostly living in exile. It begins by mentioning that it all takes place in the reign of King Xerxes (486BC- 465 BC). Yet although it has an historical setting, the tale hangs on a number of improbable coincidences which have led many scholars to think of it as almost like an historical novel (eg DJA Clines, Harper’s Bible Commentary, p387; SAW Crawford, Women’s Bible Commentary p132).

Historical or not, is certainly a good tale. Continue reading

Sunday Bulletin for 7 December 2014

WORSHIP THIS WEEK
Sunday 14 December
10am All Age Service at St Stephen’s
11.15am Morning Worship at Old High
SUNDAY BULLETIN ITEMS should be sent to Jim Monro:
jim@jimmonro.com
The deadline for all items is Wednesday at noon
NEWS FROM OUR CONGREGATION
For further information and contact details for any items listed below:
E-mail:invernesschurch@gmail.com
CHRISTMAS SERVICES please note that, contrary to the Month of Sundays, our Christmas Day and St Stephen’s Day services at St Stephen’s are at 10.30am.
ALTERNATIVITY is our annual meal and worship event, encouraging us to slow down and be thoughtful in the run-up to Christmas. This year it is on TONIGHT at St Stephen’s at 6pm. Suitable for all ages. Details: David Anderson.
OLD HIGH GIVING TREE will be in the east corridor on 7 and 14 December. Alex Gilchrist (Homeless Trust) says there are about 50 homeless, roughly half men half women. All gifts in the past have been gratefully received and your continued generous support will be much appreciated. Toiletries (alcohol free), hats, gloves, scarves and socks are always welcome. Please wrap each item separately to ensure fair distribution. Queries Sheila MacLeod or Diana Fraser.
ST STEPHEN’S GIVING TREE will be at the door today and next Sunday. Gifts will be distributed to Beechwood, Cale House, Manna House, Mackenzie Centre, Hilton Village (Social Work), Porterfield Prisoners’ Children & Barnardo’s Springboard (toiletries for vulnerable youngsters aged 16 to 20 years). It would be appreciated if gifts could be handed in on Sunday 14th December for distribution by 19th December. Further details Cliff Sim.
INVERNESS STREET PASTORS At last Sunday’s Communion service £220.42 was raised and donated to the Pastors.
SERVICES AT CARE HOMES Members and friends of the congregation are warmly invited to help and participate in the following short acts of worship. At Southside Care Home this morning, following St Stephen’s service. We meet in the transept and will leave shortly after to sing carols, accompanied on the piano by Ron Stevenson. Also at Aden House Care Home, Annfield Road on Tuesday 9th December at 2.00pm. On this occasion the worship will be led by Rev Jim Christie. Further information from Jim Alexander.
CHRISTMAS TEA & CHAT All are invited to come along to St Stephen’s Hall on Thursday 11 December from 2pm to enjoy tea and Christmas home baking. An informal social gathering for everyone- you will be made most welcome. Information: Val Cantlay or Rae Swan.
ST STEPHEN’S DOOR DUTY rota is available in the vestry. Please pick up your copy. I need one more volunteer for April (it could be you). Thanks to everyone for their hard work and help in 2014. Deborah Macrae.
CHURCH MAGAZINE should now have been delivered, but if you did not get one, please call Linda Philip.
INVERNESS HANDBELLS are playing Carols in Simpsons Garden Centre on 13 December between 11.45am-12.45pm and 1.15pm-2.15pm.  Details: Rena Beaton.
OTHER NEWS
FOOD FOR FAMILIES Highland Homeless Trust is arranging this project this Christmas- throughout December and into the first week in January. Hopefully we can manage to provide teams to do cooking w/c 8 December and 5 January. All ingredients are provided together with containers and this year there is a choice of cooking: Vegetable Broth, Mince & Tatties or Spaghetti Bolognese. Contact Christine MacKenzie christinemac73@hotmail.com for further details.
INVERNESS FOODSTUFF a new ecumenical charity to address food poverty among the homeless population of Inverness. We are planning to make and serve hot meals twice a week using surplus food from grocery stores and are looking for volunteers to help with this project which will provide a lunchtime meal on Tuesdays and an evening meal on Thursdays. Meals will be prepared at Ness Bank Church and served at the Manna House. Volunteers will generally agree to work one session per month. To help, please contact Jill Kent jillkent@me.com.
CROSSREACH (the social work branch of the Church of Scotland) have a specialist dementia Care Home, Cameron House, at Culduthel Road, Inverness. They are currently recruiting for Relief Care Workers and Relief Housekeeping Assistants. Full training will be given. For more information or an application pack please contact the Service Manager, Pat Birse.

Church magazine November 2014

Our November 2014 church magazine is now online. It includes information about our Magazine Dec 2014 coverfinances and buildings, including an action plan from the Kirk Session to deal with outstanding issues.

The following is the text of a press release issued today, as the magazine went online:

Congregation seeks partners to develop Old High Church

The high cost of insuring the most historic old church in Inverness could mean it is forced to shut its doors for the sake of a few thousand pounds per year.

Despite the increasing number of visitors being drawn to the site where St Columba himself is said to have converted a Pictish king, the situation is now so serious the congregation is urgently seeking partners who could help to keep the Old High Church building open.

Old High St Stephen’s minister, the Rev Peter W. Nimmo, revealed that some 1,500 people had visited the Old High Church during weekday openings this summer, and hundreds had attended concerts in the building in 2014, but said that the congregation now needed other partners to develop and maintain the building.

The A-listed Old High Church plays a significant role in the life of the city, hosting civic events such as the Kirking of the Council, an event which has grown and developed in recent years.

In August the Old High hosted a moving service marking the anniversary of the start of the First World War, and just a few weeks ago was filled with families and children celebrating the Christmas Lights Switch-On. It is also home to the finest pipe organ in the Highlands, which was restored in 2010 with funds from sources including the Inverness Common Good Fund.

The Old High St Stephen’s congregation also hold services at the charming St Stephen’s church in Southside Road.

Explained Mr Nimmo: “Although we have been very good at keeping building costs down, there has been a huge rise in insurance costs in recent years. Other, similar, congregations in the city pay around £4,000 per year in insurance, but we have an annual bill of £10,500. As charity trustees, the Kirk Session cannot see how that situation can continue’.

In a recent church magazine, the Kirk Session (who are the charity’s trustees) have laid out a scheme to tackle the financial issues, including an attempt to negotiate a reduction in insurance premiums and other measures to cut the cost of running their buildings. They may also set up a Friends of the Old High Church scheme to raise fund and develop interest in the historic town church. And they plan discussions with Inverness Presbytery and the Church of Scotland, as well as outside partners such as Highland Council and Historic Scotland.

Mr Nimmo said, “The nationally-important Old High building is a hidden gem at the heart of our city. As concerns grow about the state of the Old Town of Inverness, we need to find ways to develop this vital part of the cultural and spiritual heritage of the city. We have to make sure that economics don’t mean that the most important building in the Old Town is left empty and unused”.

NOTE

The existing Old High Church building was completed 1772 on the site of a mediaeval church, the lowest portion of the bell-tower at the west dating to the 15th or 16th century.

The church boasts a remarkable organ built by Henry Willis & Sons in 1895, and restored by Nicholson & Co in 2010, which is widely regarded as the finest in the Highlands. Since the restoration the congregation has developed a programme of concerts in the building.

The church was the regimental church of the Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders, and houses the regiments colours and books of remembrance. A memorial area, completed in 2013, houses the Martinpuich Cross, a wooden memorial constructed on the battlefield after the Battle of the Somme.
There are also stained glass windows by such exponents of the art as Douglas Strachan 1925, Stephen Adam & Co 1893, and A Ballantine & Gardiner 1899.

St Stephen’s was founded as a “daughter” church of the Old High in 1897, to serve the rapidly growing suburbs of late Victorian days. The two congregations united in 2003, retaining both buildings as places of worship.

The present minister, the Rev Peter W Nimmo, was inducted in 2004, having previously been minister of High Carntyne in Glasgow. He is a graduate of Glasgow University and of Princeton Theological Seminary in the USA.

The congregation is part of the Church of Scotland, the national church, and contributes generously to maintaining the work of the church through its network of 1400 parishes and 800 ministers in communities across Scotland.

Contact: Rev Peter W Nimmo peternimmo[a]minister.com

Website: www.oldhighststephens.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/oldhighststephens
Twitter: @Invernesschurch

Scottish Charity No. SC035073

Time for vision- a sermon for the First Sunday of Advent

SERMON
Texts: Habakkuk 1:1-4; 2:1-4; 3:17-19
Matthew 26:36-38
Time for vision
In the name of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen.

This first Sunday of Advent is a bit different for me from usual. Many of you will know that I tend to choose the Sunday readings from what is called a lectionary. The word lectionary comes from the Latin lectio, to read; and it is a table of readings for each Sunday of the year. So my scripture readings are not random- they are taken from a weekly list of readings which have been carefully chosen. The advantage of a lectionary is that it takes us through a lot of the Bible, and ensures you don’t just always just hear my favourite passages!

The Christian year traditionally begins on the First Sunday of Advent- today. But this year is different from me because I have decided- in the spirit of trying to keep fresh- to use a new lectionary. It’s called the Narrative Lectionary, and it came to my attention through a publication called Spill the Beans. Spill the Beans is a periodical, published on the internet, with ideas for prayer, preaching and education in churches. It is produced by a group of people largely from the Church of Scotland. We have already been using it with our Sunday School, and they seem to be enjoying it very much. Continue reading

Sunday Bulletin for 30 November 2014

WORSHIP THIS WEEK
Sunday 7 December
10am Morning Worship at St Stephen’s
11.15 Morning Worship at Old High
6pm Alternativity at St Stephen’s
SUNDAY BULLETIN ITEMS should be sent to Jim Munro:
jim@jimmonro.com
The deadline for all items is Wednesday at noon
NEWS FROM OUR CONGREGATION
For further information and contact details for any items listed below:
E-mail: invernesschurch@gmail.com
NEWS FROM OUR CONGREGATION
OLD HIGH GIVING TREE
will be in the east corridor on 7 and 14 December (or you can give today at St Stephen’s). Alex Gilchrist (Homeless Trust) says there are about 50 homeless, roughly half men half women. All gifts in the past have been gratefully received and your continued generous support will be much appreciated. Toiletries (alcohol free), hats, gloves, scarves and socks are always welcome. Please wrap each item separately to ensure fair distribution. Queries Sheila MacLeod or Diana Fraser.
ST STEPHEN’S GIVING TREE
will be at the door today and next Sunday. Please choose a tag 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 either on 7 or 14 December for subsequent distribution. Gifts are for Beechwood, Cale House, Manna House, Mackenzie Centre, Hilton Village (Social Work), Porterfield Prisoners’ Children & Barnardo’s Springboard (toiletries for vulnerable youngsters aged 16 to 20 years). Info: Cliff Sim.
ALTERNATIVITY
is our annual meal and worship event, encouraging us to slow down and be thoughtful in the run-up to Christmas. This year it is on Sunday 7 December at St Stephen’s at 6pm. Suitable for all ages. For more details, or to volunteer to help with catering or leading a part of the worship, please contact David Anderson.
WHIST DRIVE
Old High Hall on Tuesday 2 December, 7.30pm. Tickets £5 include refreshments. This should be a fun evening which we hope you will support. Tickets can be bought at both buildings from Team Members (Old High – Kate Leckie/ Christina Cameron/ Diana Fraser or St Stephen’s – Susan Macleod/ Ardyn Scott Brown/ Margaret McAleer ). Information Margaret MacAleer.
HOBBY/CRAFT EVENINGS
fortnightly in St Stephen’s Hall- 7.30pm Wednesday 3 December. Please bring your craft to share with others. Also if not a crafter perhaps you would like to learn. Please come along and enjoy the camaraderie. Details: Margaret McAleer.
CHRISTMAS TEA & CHAT
You are invited to come along to St Stephen’s Hall on Thursday 11 December from 2pm to enjoy tea and Christmas home baking. An informal social gathering for everyone- you will be made most welcome. Information: Val Cantlay or Rae Swan.
CHRISTMAS CONCERT
St Stephen’s Choir and Community Choir- Stephen’s Church on 17 & 18 December, 7.30pm. Donations to Marie Curie and Women’s Aid Inverness. Tickets £8 include mulled wine and mincemeat pies! Details Joan Darcy.
DING DONG MERRILY OLD HIGH
A grand total of £326.86 was received in aid of the DEC Ebola fund. This is great news and well done to all concerned.
OLD HIGH VISITORS
The donation boxes were opened after the open season and £223.68 was made in various notes and coinage. All subject to Gift Aid. Thanks to all who were on duty this year.
ST STEPHEN’S DOOR DUTY
rota is available in the vestry. Please pick up your copy. I need one more volunteer for April (it could be you). Thanks to everyone for their hard work and help in 2014. Deborah Macrae.
CHURCH MAGAZINE should now have been delivered, but if you did not get one, please contact Linda Philip.
OTHER NEWS
WORLD AIDS DAY
is an opportunity to raise awareness about HIV, show support for those living with HIV and commemorate those who have died. Waverley Care, Scotland’s leading charity providing support to people living with HIV and/or Hepatitis C, will be holding a World AIDS Day event at Eden Court on 1 December from 11.30am-7.30pm. The event is free to attend and open to all. There’ll be a short memorial service at the end, led by Peter, our own minister. Refreshments will be available. Waverley Care and partner agencies will have information stalls in the First Floor Foyer area throughout the day (Partners include Brook Highland, NHS Highland, LGBT Youth Scotland and Church of Scotland HIV/AIDS project)- come along, say hello and find out what these organisations offer in the Highlands. There will be talks and workshops on a range of HIV-related topics in the MacLean Room and an opportunity to find out about the experiences of people living with HIV in the Highlands. For more information about this event, please contact Rachel Hughes at Waverley Care rachel.hughes@waverleycare.org. If you can help man the Church of Scotland stall, please contact the Presbytery’s World Mission rep, Alasdair Murray (a.murray25@btinternet.com).
FOOD FOR FAMILIES
Highland Homeless Trust is arranging this project this Christmas- throughout December and into the first week in January. Hopefully we can manage to provide teams to do cooking w/c 8 December and 5 January. All ingredients are provided together with containers and this year there is a choice of cooking: Vegetable Broth, Mince & Tatties or Spaghetti Bolognese. Contact Christine MacKenzie on christinemac73@hotmail.com for further details.
CAROLS AT THE CROWN
The Inverness Singers (Conductor Margaret Laing, Accompanist Rena Beaton). Wednesday, 3rd December at 7.30 pm in the Crown Church; Guest Artiste Lucy Faulkner, Clarsach. Programmes £6 (Children/Students £3) Ken or Margaret Young (Old High Church Choir), the Music Shop, Church Street, and at the door on the night.  A donation from the concert will be made to the Highland Hospice. Details: Margaret and Ken Young.
INVERNESS FOODSTUFF a new ecumenical charity to address food poverty among the homeless population of Inverness. We are planning to make and serve hot meals twice a week using surplus food from grocery stores and are looking for volunteers to help with this project which will provide a lunchtime meal on Tuesdays and an evening meal on Thursdays. Meals will be prepared at Ness Bank Church and served at the Manna House. Volunteers will generally agree to work one session per month. To help, please contact Jill Kent (jillkent@me.com .
CROSSREACH (the social work branch of the Church of Scotland) have a specialist dementia Care Home, Cameron House, at Culduthel Road, Inverness. They are currently recruiting for Relief Care Workers and Relief Housekeeping Assistants. Full training will be given. For more information or an application pack please contact the Service Manager, Pat Birse.

Sunday Bulletin for 23 November 2014

WORSHIP THIS WEEK
Tonight
6.30pm Ding Dong Merrily Old High – family carols for the Inverness Christmas Lights switch-on, featuring Out of the Box puppets
Sunday 30 November
10am Congregational Communion Service at St Stephen’s
(No Service at Old High)
SUNDAY BULLETIN ITEMS should be sent to Jim Munro:
jim@jimmonro.com
The deadline for all items is Wednesday at noon
NEWS FROM OUR CONGREGATION
For further information and contact details for any items listed below:
E-mail: invernesschurch@gmail.com
DING DONG MERRILY OLD HIGH our annual family service to celebrate the Inverness Christmas Lights switch-on will take place tonight at the Old High at 6.30pm, following the lights being switched on at the Town House. Once again we will welcome Out of the Box puppets who will share their unique perspective on Christmas for us. Please encourage any children or families to come along to this short, informal service, where we will try to share the real message of Christmas among all the winter festivities.
CHURCH MAGAZINE is available for distribution today. If you are not getting one delivered please contact us.
OLD HIGH GIVING TREE will be in the east corridor on 7 and 14 December. There is a joint service at St Stephen’s on 30 November where the giving tree will also be available. There are about 50 homeless, roughly half men half women. All gifts in the past have been gratefully received and your continued generous support will be much appreciated. Toiletries (alcohol free),hats, gloves, scarves and socks are always welcome. Please wrap each item separately to ensure fair distribution. Contact us with any queries.
ST STEPHEN’S GIVING TREE will be at the door next Sunday, 30 November and 7th December. Please choose a tag 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 either on 7 or 14 December for subsequent distribution. Gifts are for Beechwood, Cale House, Manna House, Mackenzie Centre, Hilton Village (Social Work), Porterfield Prisoners’ Children & Barnardo’s Springboard (toiletries for vulnerable youngsters aged 16 to 20 years). Contact us for further information.
MERLEWOOD QUARTET CONCERT AT OLD HIGH The final concert this year will take place on Saturday 29th November from 12 noon till 1pm, when the Merlewood Ensemble will give a recital. This group of local musicians performed for us last year and they have chosen a programme of beautiful music for us again, so we hope this will be well-supported. Donations of £5 are invited to support the Music Therapy Fund at The Orchard. To receive information about music at Old High St Stephen’s: ohssmusic@gmail.com or www.oldhighststephens.com
ALTERNATIVITY is our annual meal and worship event, encouraging us to slow down and be thoughtful in the run-up to Christmas. This year it is on Sunday 7 December at St Stephen’s at 7pm. Suitable for all ages. For more details, or to volunteer to help with catering or leading a part of the worship, please contact us.
RENA BEATON wishes to thank everyone who gave so generously to her Retirement Presentation last Sunday and all the support from the church through the years. She says she is not going anywhere and will enjoy the services from the pew. Thank you all.
WHIST DRIVE Old High Hall on Tuesday 2nd December at 7.30pm. Tickets cost £5 which includes refreshments. This should be a fun evening which we hope you will support. Tickets can be bought at both buildings from Team Members (Old High – Kate Leckie/ Christina Cameron/Diana Fraser or St Stephen’s – Susan Macleod/Ardyn Scott Brown/ Margaret McAleer).
CHRISTMAS CONCERT St Stephen’s Choir and Commuity Choir will have their Christmas Concert in St Stephen’s Church on 17 & 18 December at 7.30pm. Donations will go to Marie Curie and Women’s Aid Inverness. Tickets £8 on sale from 23 November include mulled wine and mincemeat pies! Contact us for details.
HIGHLAND FOODBANK Volunteers to help at supermarket collection, Thursday 27 and Friday 28 November. If  you can spare a couple of hours, please contact Lorna Dempster/ Sandy Cumming or foodbank@blythswood.org) with a preferred day and time. We could also use some people who are stronger to help with loading the donations on to the van.
LUNCH CLUB The Lunch Club will meet at 12.30pm on Thursday 27 November at the Craigmonie Hotel . Please consider joining us for good food and fellowship. Transport is available. Contact us for further information.
FOOD FOR FAMILIES Highland Homeless Trust is arranging this project this Christmas- throughout December and into the first week in January. Hopefully we can manage to provide teams to do cooking w/c 8 December and 5 January. All ingredients are provided together with containers and this year there is a choice of cooking: Vegetable Broth, Mince & Tatties or Spaghetti Bolognese. Further details Christine MacKenzie christinemac73@hotmail.com . This project really makes a difference to families who are struggling at Christmas and is well run by HHT in conjunction with social work, NHS Highland, Councillors, local community groups and churches.
WORD FOR TODAY The new, free issue of the daily bible readings is available in both churches.
OTHER NEWS
WORLD AIDS DAY is an opportunity to raise awareness about HIV, show support for those living with HIV and commemorate those who have died. Waverley Care, Scotland’s leading charity providing support to people living with HIV and/or Hepatitis C, will be holding a World AIDS Day event at Eden Court on 1 December from 11.30am-7.30pm. The event is free to attend and open to all. There’ll be a short memorial service at the end, led by Peter, our own minister. Refreshments will be available. Waverley Care and partner agencies will have information stalls in the First Floor Foyer area throughout the day (Partners include Brook Highland, NHS Highland, LGBT Youth Scotland and Church of Scotland HIV/AIDS project)- come along, say hello and find out what these organisations offer in the Highlands. There will be talks and workshops on a range of HIV-related topics in the MacLean Room and an opportunity to find out about the experiences of people living with HIV in the Highlands. For more information about this event, please contact Rachel Hughes at Waverley Care on 01463 711 585 or rachel.hughes@waverleycare.org. If you can help man the Church of Scotland stall, please contact the Presbytery’s World Mission rep, Alasdair Murray (a.murray25@btinternet.com).
ANNUAL FAIRTRADE BAZAAR Saturday 29 November 10.30am to 3pm at Inverness Town House. Shop ethically for cards, gifts and food for Christmas. Please support Fairtrade producers.
CAROLS AT THE CROWN with The Inverness Singers (Conductor Margaret Laing, Accompanist Rena Beaton). Wednesday, 3rd December at 7.30 pm in the Crown Church; Guest Artiste Lucy Faulkner, Clarsach. Programmes £6 (Children/Students £3) available from Ken or Margaret Young (Old High Church Choir), the Music Shop, Church Street, and at the door on the night.  A donation from the concert will be made to the Highland Hospice. Contact us for further details.
THURSDAY’S CHILD concert Sunday 23 November at 7pm in Ness Bank Church, suggested donations £3. Music that has “songs that reach right into your soul”.
ST JOHN THE EVANGELIST, SOUTHSIDE ROAD Diocese of Moray, Ross & Caithness has extended an invitation to anybody who wish to attend the licensing of Rev Canon Dr John Cuthbert as Inverness City Priest and Priest in Charge of St John The Evangelist and St Michael and All Angels on Saturday 29 November at 1pm.
INVERNESS FOODSTUFF is a new charity being set up in Inverness to address food poverty among the homeless population of Inverness. This new venture is an ecumenical church and community led project. We are planning to make and serve hot meals twice a week using surplus food from grocery stores. We are looking for volunteers to help with this project which will provide a lunchtime meal on Tuesdays and an evening meal on Thursdays. Meals will be prepared at Ness Bank Church and served at the Manna House. Volunteers will generally agree to work one session per month. Information sessions 12 noon Tuesday 18 November and Thursday 20 November at 5pm at Ness Bank Church. Register your interest at jillkent@me.com
ANNUAL FAIRTRADE BAZAAR Shop ethically for cards, gifts and food for Christmas. Refreshments will be served. ‘Drumming’ and Fairtrade coffee tasting. Town House, Inverness. Saturday 29 November 10.30am-3pm.
INVERNESS INTERFAITH GROUP invites you to 2 events, the first Beyond Our Differences, viewing and discussion of DVD – a documentary featuring a tapestry of voices and viewpoints at St John’s Church Hall on Thursday 27 November at 7.30pm. The second Journeys of Faith, talk and discussion led by Sister Isabel Smyth, pioneer of interfaith dialogue and relations in Scotland. Raigmore Recreational Hall on Saturday 29 November 2.30-4.30pm. Details: http://www.interfaithscotland.org
COFFEE MORNING AND CHRISTMAS SALES hosted by Dalneigh and Bona Churches in support of the Inverness Street Pastors. Saturday 6 December 10.30 to 1pm in Loch Ness Country House Hotel (formerly Dunain Park).

Where were you? A sermon for Christ the King Sunday, 23 November 2014

Old High St Stephen’s, Inverness
Sunday 23 November 2014: Year A, Christ the King

SERMON
Texts: James 2.14-16 and 26
Matthew 25.31-46

Where were you?

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

Sheep and goats are animals biologically related to each other, and both were common in Palestine in the time of Christ. Today we are more used to seeing sheep on our Scottish hills; for us, goats are relatively exotic. But goats are hardy beasts, well suited to the arid Middle Eastern climate and landscape, where they have been herded since prehistoric times for their meat and milk ( see Harper’s Bible Dictionary (1985), p350). During the day, sheep and goats can graze together, but come nightfall they must be separated, for whilst the sheep like the fresh air, the goats have to be kept together to keep them warm (Schweizer The Good News According to Matthew, p476; Fenton, Saint Matthew, p4012).

Perhaps one evening, as the sun set over the hills around the Sea of Galilee, a shepherd separated his sheep and goats, and as he did so, he was being watched by a lad from the nearby town of Galilee. Continue reading