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

Sermon for 16 November 2014

Old High St Stephen’s, Inverness
Sunday 9 November 2014:

SERMON
Texts: 1 Thessalonians 5.1-11
Matthew 25.1-13

Lit up and ready for action?

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

One evening all the lights went off in our house. The first thing you do in that situation is, of course, to check to see if something has made the fuses trip. And we were prepared- we keep a torch on top of the fuse box. So I groped my way along to the cupboard where the fuses are, and felt around for the torch until I found it. I pushed the switch on top of the torch- and nothing happened. The torch hadn’t been used for a long time, and the batteries were flat. When I unexpectedly needed the light of the torch, it was not ready.

Which is pretty much also the plot line of the parable we heard from Jesus today. Jesus’s story is a bit complicated, because it refers to ancient Jewish wedding customs which are very different from our own. But the main points are clear- there are ten young women (the word can also mean bridesmaids) waiting for a wedding celebration, but they all fall asleep because the bridegroom is late in arriving. When, in the middle of the night, the shout is heard that he’s finally arrived, five of the bridesmaids are not ready. In an age before street lamps- and battery torches!- it’s their oil lamps that aren’t ready. Their lights don’t work when they needed them.

This is a parable about making sure you are ready. Sometimes we think we are ready. I thought I was prepared for an emergency by putting my torch on top of the fuse box. But I hadn’t checked it recently, so when I needed it, it was no use to me. The foolish bridesmaids hadn’t made sure they had enough oil. So when they needed their lamps, they were of no use to them.

Jesus often spoke about the Kingdom of God being like a banquet or a wedding feast (we heard a parable like that a few weeks ago). And at his last meeting with his disciples before his execution, he share bread and wine with them and says, ‘I will never again drink this wine until the day I drink the new wine with you in my Father’s Kingdom’ (Matthew 26.27).

For Jesus liked a party- some of his most memorable teaching and some memorable incidents we happened at dinner parties- a woman unexpectedly anointed his feet on one occasion; he criticised the seating arrangements at one dinner to teach about humility; he chided Martha for fussing too much over the cooking instead of enjoying the company. When he spotted the Zacchaeus, a corrupt tax collector, up a tree, Jesus invited himself back to Zacchaeus’s house for dinner.

In fact, people criticised Jesus for his sociability. Even although they’d thought John the Baptist a bit weird for not drinking wine, they condemned Jesus, saying ‘He is a glutton and wine drinker, a friend of tax collectors and other outcasts!’ (Matthew 11.18). And so Jesus said they were like children playing in the marketplace: ‘One group shouts to the other, “We played wedding music for you, but you wouldn’t dance! We sang funeral songs, but you wouldn’t cry!”‘ Jesus’ evident enjoyment of good company, food and wine is almost an enacted parable, showing us one aspect of what the Kingdom will be like.

So it seems that today’s parable is also bout the Kingdom, and being ready for it. Scholars are fairly unanimous in saying that for the first few decades after Easter, many in the young church expected Jesus to return very soon. Using ideas from the Old Testament as well, they had the idea that the Last Judgement was very close at hand. The community for which Matthew’s gospel was first written would have had many within it who had such an expectation. So this parable would be a powerful reminder to be ready for what was referred to as ‘the day of the Lord’, when the Kingdom would finally become fully present on earth.

Questions about the day of the Lord form the background to both of St Paul’s letters to the Thessalonians. In the passage we read earlier, Paul teaches that there is no predicting when the day will come. Borrowing an striking image that Jesus himself uses in the Gospels, Paul says that the Day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night- utterly unexpectedly. I find it strange that some way out sects and movements have tried to predict the date of the Day of the Lord, when the New Testament clearly states, here and elsewhere, that it cannot be predicted. Anyone who tries to tell you that they have a timetable for the end of the world- even if they tell you they got it from the Bible- has clearly not read the Bible properly!

It’s a pity that it tends to be those on the lunatic fringe who give so much attention to these ‘last things’- the return of Christ, the last judgement, the day of the Lord, the final and complete coming of God’s kingdom on earth- whatever you want to call it. Those of not so keen on these things are tempted to skip round it. And perhaps it’s that element of surprise that makes us a bit scared.

We all of us are tempted to want life to be not too surprising, if you don’t mind. The idea that Christ might suddenly arrive when we are least expecting him reminds us that surprise is at the heart of the Gospel. Nobody expected the Messiah to be born in a stable to a poor young woman. A rabbi who sought out and ate with and visited tax collectors and other outcasts was not really what you expected. A saviour executed on a cross is not what you expect.

And the Bible is full of stories of God acting in unexpected ways. Moses, a wanted murderer, meets God in the desert, as a burning bush tell him to go and set God’s people free. David, the youngest son, defeats the giant, Goliath. The prophet Jonah gets so terrified at being called to preach in the city of Nineveh has to be swallowed by a whale before he goes there, and then is surprised to find that the evil people of the city actually repent. And you would not expect a Pharisee, who persecuted followers of Jesus, to become not only become a follower of Jesus himself, but one of the greatest leaders of the early Christian Church- but, to everyone’s surprise, God called Paul to be an apostle.

God is not predictable and boring. God is surprising, and disruptive. Often we forget that- even in the life of the church. We are suspicious of new things, when they might be a way for God to develop our faith. We are suspicious of disruption, which might be a way for God to call us to new ways of understanding the Gospel. Many people today think that church is boring- and often they are right. But God is not boring- God is surprising.

And one day, the Day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night, or a bridegroom arriving unexpectedly. And yet God’s kingdom is not just in the future. I said that Jesus’ fondness for a dinner party was perhaps a hint to us of what the kingdom will be like. Jesus brought God’s kingdom to life for people, in the here and now, reminding us that it would be like a celebration, a feast, a wedding.

But Jesus also had a sharp tongue- often his were words of judgement. He was harshly critical of religious leaders whom he regarded as hypocrites. He was unafraid to cause ructions at a dinner party by criticising those who took the best places for themselves. In Jesus, many people found themselves face to face with God’s judgement. For some, it was too much- like the rich man who was told to give all his wealth to the poor, who went sadly away. But for Zacchaeus, the little tax collector up the tree, meeting with Jesus changed his life for the better, as he promised to pay back those he’d stolen from.

Jesus brings us face-to-face with the Kingdom. He shows us that it will be joyous, like a party, and he confronts us with the demands of God’s justice. And he reminds us to be on our guard, as we cannot tell the day and the hour, to be prepared for God doing new, unexpected things- even bringing history to an end.

But how can we be prepared? Jesus’ parable of the wise and foolish bridesmaids gives us some clues. When the midnight shout goes up that the bridegroom has arrived, the ten women wake up and start to trim their lamps. The foolish ones ask if they can borrow some oil, but they’re refused. If that sounds a bit mean, well, perhaps this part of the story reminds us that a borrowed oil won’t do. It’s up to each of us personally to be prepared for the wedding, to be prepared for the arrival of the bridegroom. Faith is a personal commitment, something we ourselves need to take responsibility for. No-one else can do it for us- we cannot borrow someone else’s faith, there is no such thing as a second-hand commitment to Christ. We ourselves need to be prepared.

So the foolish bridesmaids go off to market to buy more oil. But they miss the ceremony of the arrival of the bridegroom, and when they get back the celebrations are in progress and they can’t get in to the party. The foolish bridesmaids had not prepared properly to celebrate.

Most men have watched as a daughter or a wife gets ready for a night out. It seems to take forever- there’s all that careful preparation, getting the right clothes on, mysterious things involving hair and make-up. We men can only watch wryly as time to go gets ever closer and our daughter or wife seems fixed to the dressing table chair. But gentlemen, do not disturb all these preparations. The women are getting ready to party.

As we get ready for the kingdom, we should be filled with anticipation, for we are getting ready to party. The Day of the Lord will come unexpectedly, like a thief in the night, but for us the day of judgement will be a day of joy. We are, as Paul says, children of the light. So the Day of the Lord, the day of God’s judgement, is a day we can anticipate with enthusiasm, for we know that for us it will be celebration, a time of great joy.

So often, Christians seem like grim traditionalists, fearful of change. We think our faith is about things being unchanging, no surprises, and little joy. But Christians should be getting ready to party. We should look to the future, not with foreboding and fear, but with joy. Because we know that the future is God’s hands, let us celebrate today in anticipation!

Ascription of Praise
Glory to the Father, and to the Son,
and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning, is now,
and shall be forever, Amen.
BCO 1994, p586
Biblical references from the Good News Bible
© 2014 Peter W Nimmo

Sunday Bulletin for 16 November 2014

WORSHIP THIS WEEK

Sunday 23 November

10am Morning Worship at St Stephen’s

11.15 Morning Worship at Old High

6.30pm Ding Dong Merrily Old High- family carols for the Inverness

Christmas Lights switch on, featuring Out of the Box puppets

SUNDAY BULLETIN ITEMS should be sent to Jim Monro:

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 next Sunday at the
Old High at 6.30pm, following the lights being switched on at the Town
House. Once again we will be welcoming 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, at which
we will try to share the real message of Christmas among all the winter
festivities. If you can help with stewarding on the night please contact us. If you can distribute some posters or leaflets, please pick them up from the church doors today.

RENA BEATON We will make a presentation to Rena after the service at
Old High this morning and there will also be a cup of tea for us to say our
personal thank-yous to her for all her years of service as Old High organist.

HIGHLAND FOODBANK It’s that time of year again when we are on the lookout for volunteers to help at our next supermarket collection at InshesTesco. The dates are Thursday 27th and Friday 28th November. If anyone from your church, or anybody you know, is able to spare a couple of hours on either of those days, please ask them to contact us with a preferred day and time. The rota will run from 10am-12 noon; 12 noon-2pm; 2pm-4pm; 4pm-5pm. We could also use some people who are stronger to help with loading the donations on to the van.

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. Please contact us for more details, or to volunteer to help with catering or leading a part of the worship.

KIRK SESSION OF INVERNESS will meet at the offices of Frame,
Kennedy at 31-33 High Street, Inverness on Tuesday 18 November at 3pm.

GIVING TREES will be at St Stephen’s and the Old High, so we ask for a
thought to be given to those who sadly may not get any sort of small gift at
Christmas. More details next week.

HOBBY/CRAFT EVENINGS are recommencing fortnightly in St Stephen’s
Hall at 7.30pm on Wednesday 19 November. 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. Please contact us for further details.

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 Churches 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 Community Choir will
have their Christmas Concert in Stephen’s Church on 17 & 18 December at
7.30pm. Donations will go to Marie Curie and Woman’s Aid Inverness.
Tickets £8 on sale from 23 November include mulled wine and mincemeat
pies! Contact us for more details.

FLORAL ART CLASSES Annette Stoker has kindly offered to do floral art
classes again this year. If anyone is interested could they please contact
us. More details to follow.

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 contact us.

THE INVERNESS CHORAL SOCIETY perform Bach’s Christmas Oratorio
next Saturday evening, 22nd November, at 7.30 pm at Eden Court Theatre.
This is a delightful work and an enjoyable way to start the Christmas
season. Tickets are available from the Box Office at Eden Court.

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.

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 EPISCOPAL CHURCH, SOUTHSIDE ROAD The United 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.

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: 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).

A SERVICE OF REMEMBERING Ness Bank Church, 16 November 2014,
3pm. A time for quiet reflection through music, readings and prayers, for
anyone who wishes to remember someone who has died whether recently
or long ago. Details: Rev Fiona Smith 01463 234 653.

Ding Dong Merrily Old High: celebrating the Inverness Christmas Lights Switch-on

Ding Dong poster and leaflet

Once more, we will be celebrating the Inverness Christmas Lights Switch On with a family carol service at the Old High.

Follow Santa down Church Street to the Old High to enjoy traditional carols, as well as the fun of the hilarious Out of the Box Puppets with their unique take on Christmas.

A chance to celebrate the real meaning of Christmas!

For more information, please contact invernesschurch(a)gmail.com.

Download the poster here, or leaflets here.

Sunday Bulletin for 9 November 2014

WORSHIP THIS WEEK

Sunday 16 November

10am Morning Worship at St Stephen’s

11.15 Morning Worship at Old High

SUNDAY BULLETIN ITEMS

should be sent to Jim Monro

The deadline for all items is Wednesday at noon

NEWS FROM OUR CONGREGATION

HIGHLAND FOODBANK It’s that time of year again when I’m on the look-out for volunteers to help at our next supermarket collection at Inshes Tesco. The dates are Thursday 27th and Friday 28th November. If anyone from your church, or anybody you know, is able to spare a couple of hours on either of those days, please ask them to contact me – details below – with a preferred day and time. The rota will run from 10am-12 noon; 12 noon-2pm; 2pm-4pm; 4pm-5pm. We could also use some people who are stronger to help with loading the donations on to the van. For more details contact Lorna Dempster or Sandy Cumming

RENA BEATON Thanks to all who gave generously to the fund for a gift for Rena. We will make a presentation at the Old High service next Sunday.

WORSHIP Action Team will meet on Wednesday 19 November at 7pm at the Manse. Details from David Anderson.

ADEN HOUSE CARE HOME You are warmly invited to help and participate at a short act of worship in this service led by Rev Peter Nimmo Tuesday 11 November at 2.00pm. Details: Jim Alexander

TEA AND CHAT Enjoy a cup of tea and to home baking on Thursday 13 October in St Stephen’s Hall from 2-3.30pm. An informal event, organised by the OHSS Pastoral Care Team. Come when you can, and enjoy some fellowship with friends. For more details contact Val Cantlay

HEALING SERVICE at St Stephens TODAY at 4pm to which all welcome. (Contact Ruth Martin)

KIRK SESSION OF INVERNESSwill meet at the offices of Frame, Kennedy at31-33 High Street Inverness on Tuesday 18 November at 3pm. Details: Margaret Sutherland

FLORAL ART CLASSES Annette Stoker has kindly offered to do floral art classes again this year. If anyone is interested could they please contact Annette or Jill Russell. More details to follow.

CHURCH MAGAZINE Editor Willie Morrison urgently requires articles and pictures for the next issue of OHSS Magazine. All offerings gratefully received by Willie. Final submissions by this Friday, 14 November, please.

WORD FOR TODAY The new, free issue of the daily bible readings is available in both churches.

OTHER NEWS

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. If you are interested, please could you register your interest with Jill Kent. There will be an information session at 12:00 Tuesday 18 November and again on Thursday 20 November at 5:00 at Ness Bank Church.

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 in Raigmore Recreational Hall on Saturday 29 November from 2.30 to 4.30

WORLD DAY OF PRAYER Linda Fraser is seeking somebody to take over the organising the Day of Prayer as she has decided to step down. Plenty of time to take over as the Day of Prayer is on Friday 6 March and will be in Aden House. For more information contact Louise..

A SERVICE OF REMEMBERING Ness Bank Church, 16 November 2014, 3pm. This will be a time for quiet reflection through music, readings and prayers, for anyone who wishes to remember someone who has died whether recently or long ago. Details: Rev Fiona Smith.

Sermon for Remembrance Sunday 2014: Not Forgetting

Old High St Stephen’s, Inverness
Sunday 9 November 2014: Year A, Remembrance Sunday

SERMON
Texts: Romans 8.31-39
John 15.9-17

Not forgetting

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

The most natural thing in the world when you lose a loved one or a friend is to grieve. Remembrance Day developed out of a national need to grieve following the tragedy of the first World War, and today many will grieve both old friends and loved ones. Yet in his First Letter to the Thessalonians, Saint Paul wrote ‘…you should not grieve like the rest of humankind, who have no hope’ (1 Thessalonians 4.13 REB). And in the First Letter to the Corinthians, Paul says: ‘If it is for this life only that Christ has given us hope, we of all people are most to be pitied’ (1 Corinthians 15.19 REB). Note that both these sayings include the word ‘hope’. And that both of them invite Christians to think differently from everyone else.

For Paul to say that someone should not to grieve seems almost heartless. Continue reading

So much love! A sermon for All Saints Day 2014

Old High St Stephen’s, Inverness
Sunday 2 November 2014: Year A, All Saints Sunday

SERMON
Texts: 1 John 3:1-3 NRSV
Matthew 5:1-12 NRSV

So much love!
In the name of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen.

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.

The custom of dressing up in scary costumes for Hallowe’en- ‘guising’, to use the good old Scots word- goes back to the old pagan beliefs about keeping evil spirits out of our way. Indeed, experts tell us that many of the traditions of Hallowe’en predate Christian influence on our culture. Some boring Christians are killjoys who want to abolish Hallowe’en, but for most children it brings harmless enjoyment. What child doesn’t enjoy dressing up, and being given sweets just for telling a few bad jokes?

When I spoke to the school assembly, I reminded them, as I always do when speaking to children about these things, that there is, of course, no such thing as ghosts. We might enjoy a wee scare sometimes, but there is nothing supernatural for us to be frightened of. I say this with great confidence, for one of my favourite passages of scripture- it was the sermon text at my confirmation- comes from Paul’s Letter to the Romans, where he writes, ‘I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord’ (Romans 8.38-39). In other words, there is nothing we need to be afraid of. There are no ghosts and ghouls which can hurt us. When it comes to the supernatural, we have, as someone said in another context, nothing to fear but fear itself. Continue reading

Sunday Bulletin for 2 November 2014

WORSHIP THIS WEEK

Tonight

7pm Short service of Holy Communion remembering our saints at St Stephen’s

Sunday 9 November

10am Morning Worship at St Stephen’s

11.15 Morning Worship at Old High

SUNDAY BULLETIN ITEMS

should be sent to Jim Monro

The deadline for all items is Wednesday at noon

NEWS FROM OUR CONGREGATION

SCOTLAND’S FUTURE NOW Debate about Scotland’s future has not ended with the referendum. The Moderator of the General Assembly is once again hosting a nationwide discussion about the nation’s future. The event in Glasgow will be linked by video with other venues across the country. There will be two leading speakers from the referendum campaigns, plus a neutral contribution. Rather than an open debate, the keynote speeches will be followed by discussion in groups. The Inverness event will take place at Crown Church on Wednesday 5 November, at 7pm (by kind permission of the Rev Peter Donald). It will be led by our own minister, who is a member of the General Assembly’s Church and Society Council. No ticket is required, but if would be helpful to know who is coming

SOUTHSIDE CARE HOME Members and friends of the congregation are warmly invited to help and participate in the short act of worship at Southside Care Home this morning led by Etta Malcolm. After St Stephen’s service we meet in the transept and after tea/coffee, leave at 11.15am.

HOBBY/CRAFT EVENINGS are recommencing fortnightly in St Stephen’s Hall at 7.30pm on Wednesday 5 November. 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. Further details from Margaret McAleer – Social & Fundraising Action Team

HEALING SERVICE at St Stephens next Sunday 9th November at 4pm to which all welcome. (Contact Ruth Martin)

TUESDAY HOUSE GROUP New faces will be warmly welcomed to the Group which continues to meet at 78 Laggan Road. Next meeting 4 November at 7.30pm. Details: Chrissie Lacey

KIRK SESSION OF INVERNESSwill meet at the offices of Frame, Kennedy at31-33 High Street Inverness on Tuesday 18 November at 3pm. Details: Margaret Sutherland.

MUSIC AT THE OLD HIGH Howard Duthie, Director of Music and Organist at St John’s Kirk, Perth, previously organist at Greyfriars Kirk in Edinburgh, will play a recital on Saturday 8 November at noon and again all donations will be given to Music Therapy at the Orchard. Mr Duthie conducted the Chansons Choir at a concert in the Old High in 2010. Details: Andrew Stevenson

BLYTHSWOOD SHOE BOX APPEAL By filling a shoebox with simple gifts you can bring laughter to someone this Christmas. Filled boxes can be delivered to the Blythswood Shop in Academy Street or to their new Superstore on Harbour Road. Ask anyone in the Pastoral Care Team if you require help in delivering your box. All boxes to be handed in by 7 November. For more details contact Val Cantlay.

FLORAL ART CLASSES Annette Stoker has kindly offered to do floral art classes again this year. If anyone is interested could they please contact Annette or Jill Russell. More details to follow.

ORGANIST AND CHOIRMASTER AT OLD HIGH CHURCH If you know anyone who might be suitable for this post, please ask them to visit http://oldhighststephens.com/oldhighorganist/ where there is a full job description and contact details. Closing date is 10 November.

CHURCH MAGAZINE Editor Willie Morrison urgently requires articles and pictures for the next issue of OHSS Magazine. All offerings gratefully received by. Final submissions by this Friday, 14 November, please.

WORD FOR TODAY The new, free issue of the daily bible readings is available in both churches.

OTHER NEWS

AREA FUND RAISING AND EVENTS MANAGER Blythswood Care are looking for an enthusiastic, energetic and innovative Area Fundraising and Events Manager to represent them in the North of Scotland. For an application form and job description, contact Barbara Grace Closing date Friday 14 November 2014.

Bulletin for Sunday 26 October 2014

WORSHIP THIS WEEK

Sunday 2 November

10am Morning Worship at St Stephen’s

11.15 Morning Worship at Old High

7pm Short Evening Communion Service at St Stephen’s

SUNDAY BULLETIN ITEMS

should be sent to Jim Monro: jim 01463 231 172

146 Culduthel Road Inverness IV2 4BQ.

The deadline for all items is Wednesday at noon

NEWS FROM OUR CONGREGATION

SCOTLAND’S FUTURE NOW Debate about Scotland’s future has not ended with the referendum. The Moderator of the General Assembly is once again hosting a nationwide discussion about the nation’s future. The event in Glasgow will be linked by video with other venues across the country. There will be two leading speakers from the referendum campaigns, plus a neutral contribution. Rather than an open debate, the keynote speeches will be followed by discussion in groups. The Inverness event will take place at Crown Church on Wednesday 5 November, at 7pm (by kind permission of the Rev Peter Donald). It will be led by our own minister, who is a member of the General Assembly’s Church and Society Council. No ticket is required, but if would be helpful to know who is coming:

LUNCH CLUB meets at 12.30pm on Thursday 30 October at the Craigmonie Hotel . Please consider joining us for good food and fellowship. Transport is available. Contact Val Cantlay.

KIRK SESSION meets at the Old High Hall at 7.30pm in the Old High Hall.

RENA BEATON After many years of devoted service, our friend Rena has retired from the post of organist and choir master at the Old High Church. We would like to make a presentation in a few weeks to say thank you to Rena, and members of the congregation are encouraged to contribute. Please bring along cash or cheques in envelopes marked ‘Rena’ and give them to Linda Philip or Margaret Sutherland, or put them in the offering bags. Alternatively, you can send a cheque- made payable to Old High St Stephen’s Church, with a note that it is for Rena, to Sandy Cumming,

BLYTHSWOOD SHOE BOX APPEAL By filling a shoebox with simple gifts you can bring laughter to someone this Christmas. Filled boxes can be delivered to the Blythswood Shop in Academy Street or to their new Superstore on Harbour Road. Ask anyone in the Pastoral Care Team if you require help in delivering your box. All boxes to be handed in by 7 November. For more details contact Val Cantlay

FLORAL ART CLASSES Annette Stoker has kindly offered to do floral art classes again this year. If anyone is interested could they please contact Annette or Jill Russell More details to follow.

HIOME GROUP Next meeting 29th October at Winnie Stafford’s house at 13 Cradlehall Park. We have chosen to study the letter from James, which is said to emphasise the importance of actions along with faith in the practice of Christianity. We meet fortnightly and new members would be very welcome. If you would like more information or a lift please contact David Martin or Deborah Macrae.

ORGANIST AND CHOIRMASTER AT OLD HIGH CHURCH If you know anyone who might be suitable for this post, please ask them to visit http://oldhighststephens.com/oldhighorganist/ where there is a full job description and contact details. Closing date is 10 November.

CHURCH MAGAZINE Editor Willie Morrison urgently requires articles and pictures for the next issue of OHSS Magazine, which may need to be published earlier than expected, sometime next month. Please don’t wait until the last minute. All offerings gratefully received by Willie. Final submissions by Friday, 14 November, please.

OTHER NEWS

JOHN BUCHAN LECTURE BY HARRY REID Born the son of a Presbyterian minister in 1875, Buchan is probably most famous for his spy thriller The Thirty Nine Steps. Hear about how the Christian faith influenced the life and writings of Buchan and other eminent twentieth century Scottish writers. Inverness Town House, Friday 31st October, 7.30pm. Speaker: Harry Reid, journalist and author, former editor of the Glasgow Herald. All welcome. No ticket required. This event is organised by Highland Theological College UHI as part of its 20th Anniversary celebrations.

EXTRAORDINARY GOD IN AN ORDINARY LIFE Retreat Day to discover how we can encounter God in the ordinary stuff of life. Leaders include Steve Aisthorpe (Mission Development Worker). Saturday 8 November 2014 10am-3.30pm, Hilton Lighthouse

AREA FUND RAISING AND EVENTS MANAGER Blythswood Care are looking for an enthusiastic, energetic and innovative Area Fundraising and Events Manager to represent them in the North of Scotland. For an application form and job description, contact Barbara. Closing date Friday 14 November 2014.

Sunday Bulletin got 19 October 2014

WORSHIP THIS WEEK

Sunday 26 October

10am Morning Worship at St Stephen’s

led by Rev Arthur Sinclair, Pastoral Assistant

11.15 Sacrament of Holy Communion at Old High

led by The Minister

SUNDAY BULLETIN ITEMS

should be sent to Jim Monro

The deadline for all items is Wednesday at noon

NEWS FROM OUR CONGREGATION

THE MINISTER WILL BE ON HOLIDAY until Thursday 22 October. For urgent pastoral matters, please contact your elder or the Rev Arthur Sinclair.

SCOTLAND’S FUTURE NOW Wednesday 5 November, Crown Church. The Moderator will once again host a nationwide discussion about the nation’s future, with events happening across the country. More details to follow, or contact the Minister.

HOBBY/CRAFT EVENINGS are recommencing fortnightly in St Stephen’s Hall at 7.30pm on Wednesday 22 October. 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. Further details from Margaret McAleer (Social & Fundraising Action Team).

RENA BEATON After many years of devoted service, our friend Rena has retired from the post of organist and choir master at the Old High Church. We would like to make a presentation in a few weeks to say thank you to Rena, and members of the congregation are encouraged to contribute. Please bring along cash or cheques in envelopes marked ‘Rena’ and give them to Linda Philip or Margaret Sutherland, or put them in the offering bags. Alternatively, you can send a cheque- made payable to Old High St Stephen’s Church, with a note that it is for Rena, to Sandy Cumming.

CROSS REACH CHRISTMAS CATALOGUE This is the last day for post-free orders via the church. Catalogues are at the church doors- have a browse and speak to Sheila MacLeod or Val Cantlay to order. You can also order directly online at

BLYTHSWOOD SHOE BOX APPEAL By filling a shoebox with simple gifts you can bring laughter to someone this Christmas. Please collect a leaflet (at the Church Door) about the 21st Shoebox Appeal. Filled boxes can be delivered to the Blythswood Shop in Academy Street or to their new Superstore on Harbour Road. Ask anyone in the Pastoral Care Team if you require help in delivering your box. All boxes to be handed in by 7 November. For more details contact Val Cantlay.

FLORAL ART CLASSES Annette Stoker has kindly offered to do floral art classes again this year. If anyone is interested could they please contact Annette or Jill Russell. More details to follow.

ORGANIST AND CHOIRMASTER AT OLD HIGH CHURCH If you know anyone who might be suitable for this post, please ask them to visit http://oldhighststephens.com/oldhighorganist/ where there is a full job description and contact details. Closing date is 10 November.

OTHER NEWS

JOHN BUCHAN LECTURE BY HARRY REID Born the son of a Presbyterian minister in 1875, Buchan is probably most famous for his spy thriller The Thirty Nine Steps. In addition to writing well over 100 books Buchan was, amongst other things, a government administrator in South Africa at the end of the Boer War, a Member of Parliament for the Scottish Universities and His Majesty’s High Commissioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland (twice) before being appointed Governor-General of Canada in 1935. He died Lord Tweedsmuir in 1940. Hear about how the Christian faith influenced the life and writings of Buchan and other eminent twentieth century Scottish writers. Inverness Town House, Friday 31st October, 7.30pm. Speaker: Harry Reid, journalist and author, former editor of the Glasgow Herald. All welcome. No ticket required. This event is organised by Highland Theological College UHI as part of its 20th Anniversary celebrations.

EXTRAORDINARY GOD IN AN ORDINARY LIFE Are you seeking a more powerful sense of God’s presence, but don’t know where to find it? A deeper experience of Him, but don’t know how to achieve it? Do you sometimes feel inadequate or let down because you don’t get more spiritual ‘fireworks’? Join with others on this Retreat Day to discover how we can encounter God in the ordinary stuff of life. Leaders include Steve Aisthorpe (Mission Development Worker). Saturday 8 November 2014 10am-3.30pm, The Lighthouse, Hilton, Inverness IV2 4UA. Book and pay online at or call Sheila Reeves.

ALPHA COURSE This 10-week course to refresh your Christian faith allows you to ask all the questions like; How do I get to know God? How do I pray? What should I do with my life? All welcome at Crown Church for a meal, short video and discussion starts at 6.30pm Monday. For more details contact David Martin.

ADVANCE NOTICES

DEMENTIA FRIENDLY CHURCHES CrossReach training day for Ministers, Pastoral Care Teams and all who minister to members with dementia. Inverness East Church on Saturday 22 November from 10.30 to 15.00. The day includes key note speakers, workshops on pastoral visiting and worship, and there will be an opportunity to hear from some congregations who are running dementia projects. To register an interest please contact Lynne Hood or contact the Minister.