A prayer following the European Union Referendum

The Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland has released this specially written prayer in response to the EU referendum vote, which reflects on the uncertainty and conflicting emotions it has raised.

The Rt Rev Dr Russell Barr, minister of Cramond, says at this time of change, people will wish to think about what the vote means for them, their friends and neighbours who may not all be in agreement about what the future holds. Continue reading

Pentecost Prayer Walk

Five Inverness churches have teamed up to organise an ecumenical Pentecost celebration on Sunday, 8 June.
Starting at St Ninian’s Roman Catholic Church at 3pm, those taking part will walk to the Old High Church of Scotland, calling on the way at St Stephen’s Church of Scotland, St John’s Episcopal Church and Crown Church of Scotland.
As well as enjoying each other’s company, they will celebrate their common baptism with brief prayers and readings at each church. All are welcome to join in.
For more information, please contact the local clergy of each church, or the Rev Peter W Nimmo.

Lent Study 2014: Parables and Possessions

Lent courseOur minister will lead a Lent Bible Study this year on the vexed issue of money.

We will be meeting on Wednesdays during Lent, at 7.30pm at St Stephen’s, on the following dates: 12 March, 19 March, 26 March, 2 April, 9 April.

These studies are open to anyone from any church or none.

The Bible says a lot about money. We will be looking at some of the parables of Jesus to consider how we can be in a right relationship to money, and how that can help us be in a right relationship to God.

We will be following the ecumenical Lent Course of Churches Together in Britain and Ireland, entitled Parables and Possessions: on economics and a right relationship with money.

The course is inspired by the Special Commission on the Purposes of Economic Activity which reported to the Church of Scotland General Assembly in 2012. There is a link to the full report, and other information, on the Poverty and Economics page of the Church of Scotland website.

Topics include:

  • Temptation (wealth, possessions, consumerism)
  • Betrayal (where do our true values lie?)
  • Forgiveness (Church of Scotland version of the Lord’s Prayer talks about forgiving debts, not sins or trespasses)
  • Ridicule (trauma, prophetic voice, being disregarded)
  • Sacrifice (what do others give up for us, what do we give up for others?)
  • Transformation (Christ’s love active in the world, not only for ourselves but for all humankind).

Here’s an extract from the introduction to the course materials:

The Bible says more about money, economics and making a living than any other subject. It is clear, therefore, that God wants us to be in a right relationship with money and this will aid us in our quest to be in a right relationship with God.

In our daily lives we have to make lots of decisions. Many if not most of these have some dimension of money attached to them, whether the decisions we have to make are to do with our family, our community or our nation. It is vital that we make decisions which will impact for the best on those around us (including ourselves). Experience tells us that we have not always been very good at this.

In recent years, we seem to have turned our backs on some traditional ways of managing our finances in favour of others that are not always in the best interests of ourselves, our families, our communities, our nation, and even our planet. Many of us have not hesitated to get into serious debt in order to satisfy our desire for a ‘better’ life. Questions have also been asked about government expenditure decisions.

Living under the kind of financial pressures to which we have subjected ourselves can have very serious effects on our mental health as well as our economic health. A right relationship with money is necessary for healthy personal relationships to prosper.

The season of Lent has sometimes been associated with sacrifice, of giving up a luxury or taking up a new responsibility for a period. In this course you are invited to lay aside any indolence (by which we mean apathy and world-weariness) around the subject of personal economics which is sometimes the result of a sense of helplessness. You are encouraged to be more discerning about those in whom you place your trust.
You are challenged to identify the best interests of your neighbours, especially the weak and marginalised.

The course focuses on a different parable in each session. Each parable is preceded by a Lent reflection.

Each week includes a mixture of materials for reflection, commentary on one of Jesus’ parables, the occasional quote to spark a reaction, some questions and a prayer. There is also a suggestion of something to do as follow-up, a practical action expressing Christian discipleship in the world.

More information from the Minister (01463 250 802; peternimmo[a]minister.com).

The Rev Peter W Nimmo is a member of the Church of Scotland’s Church and Society Council, and is currently involved with writing a report on wealth and taxation which will come to the 2015 General Assembly.

Homelessness and poverty event: Sunday 26 January

PRESS RELEASE FROM: Willie Morrison on behalf of Old High St Stephen’s Church

22 Jan 2014

For further information please contact the Rev Peter Nimmo on 01463 250802

Sunday kirk supper and drama to highlight local poverty

A city centre congregation is to highlight the plight of homeless in Inverness and the Highlands in a novel way, with a supper and a dramatised reading of the New Testament parable of the Prodigal Son.

This move, by Old High St Stephen’s congregation, in conjunction with Inverness Church of Scotland Presbytery, is its contribution to Poverty and Homelessness Action Week, a major national publicity drive to help the poorest in our society, which starts on Saturday.

The week features many memorable events at both local and national levels – from inspiring events featuring young people taking action for a better world, to hearings where people bravely share their experiences of poverty and homelessness.

The Inverness event, which takes place at Old High St Stephen’s Church Halls, Academy Street, on Sunday evening from 6pm, also features talks by and conversations with Dr Paul Monaghan and Alex Gilchrist of Highland Homeless Trust, who will emphasise the constant and increasing cries locally for help in the current financial climate.

Old High St Stephen’s minister the Rev Peter Nimmo said:

It is a chance for us to eat and meet, to worship and to learn first-hand of the issues, and for us, as followers of Jesus, to reflect on how we can use our gifts in response to this need. This invitation to join us and hear of these problems is being extended to folk of all faiths or none. All who are interested are welcome.

Congregation member and leading organiser Iain Todd, who is also a Church of Scotland reader – a trained and experienced lay preacher – remarked:

The aim of the evening is for all faiths or none to come together to listen, and perhaps learn, from two of the many professionals at work in our city with folk who are really struggling with issues of homelessness, poverty and the changes to the benefits system and who often, in their vulnerability and of necessity, find themselves drawn down the pay day loan route with its legal, but punitive interest rates.
Pay day loans are accepted by all as being awful things – and since the UK Government did away with crisis loans, and the new benefit system is paid a month in arrears, desperate folk who have no money are being sucked into the Wonga and Cash Converters of this world who charge horrendous rates.
I have a wee friend who recently told me she had borrowed £200, which will cost her £300 to repay.”

Mr Todd also spoke of an acquaintance who had told him he didn’t believe there was any real poverty in Inverness , and who insisted: “Define poverty for me. I bet they all have big plasma televisions.”

He said credit unions were not the answer for folk in dire poverty, as they were more akin to saving schemes, and would not respond to pleas for immediate cash.

And he concluded: “All are welcome on Sunday evening to listen, learn and maybe respond.”

Footnote: Inverness Food Bank, set up in 2005 at the Free Church Hall in Madras Street , and supported by many local churches and other organisations, now distributes emergency supplies to thousands of needy Highland families each year, and has the unenviable reputation of being one of the busiest of its kind in Britain .

ENDS

Enough food for everyone? Sermon for Christian Aid Sunday, 12 May 2013

During this service, we texted prayers for Christian Aid Week. See prayers from around the UK and Ireland here.

Old High St Stephen’s, Inverness
Sunday 12 May 2013: Year C, Christian Aid Sunday

SERMON
Texts: 1 Kings 17:8-16
John 6:1-14

Enough food for everyone?
In the name of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hZjO7Rd5m40?feature=player_embedded]
Most of us here are probably familiar with the story of Jesus feeding the five thousand. But we are probably less familiar with the story of Elijah and the widow of Zarephath. Continue reading

Summer Evening Speakers announced: includes John Bell

Old High-1

Old High St Stephen’s Parish Church has announced the speakers at this year’s summer evening services at the Old High Church, Church Street, Inverness.

We have been hosting guest speakers at evening services on summer Sunday evenings at the Old High, the oldest church in Inverness, for more than a decade. We host these speakers as a gift to the whole Christian Community of Inverness, fulfilling the Old High’s role as the ‘town church’ of the City of Inverness.

Each event begins with worship at 7.30pm, and includes refreshments and a question and answer session.

This year’s guest speakers are:

9 June 2013: James M Fraser MA MEd FRSA, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Highlands and Islands.

30 June 2013: Kenneth Steven, writer, author and poet

21 July 2013: Rev John L. Bell, Iona Community member, hymnwriter, lecturer, broadcaster

11 August 2013: Rev Martin Johnstone, Priority Areas Secretary of the Church of Scotland and Chief Executive of Faith in Community Scotland

Please see below for more information about each speaker. More detail about their talks will follow later. Continue reading

All one! A sermon for 14 April 2013

Old High St Stephen’s, Inverness
Sunday 14 April 2013: Year C, The Third Sunday of Easter

SERMON
Texts: Galatians 3.23-29
John 20.1-18

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

Easter is not just one Sunday of the year. For there is a sense that every Sunday, for Christians, is the day of Resurrection. We know from the Gospel accounts that Jesus was crucified on a Friday, and that after being buried he lay in the grave over the Jewish Sabbath (our Saturday). On the third day, after the Sabbath, he rose again. And that’s why, at a very early stage, the followers of Jesus began to meet for worship, not on the Sabbath, but the day after- the day of resurrection, our Sunday- which the early Christians called ‘The Lord’s Day’. Every Sunday is Easter Sunday. Continue reading

Sunday Bulletin for 17 March 2013

Worship This Week
Tonight
7pm Short Act of Worship for Lent, St Stephen’s
Wednesday 20 March
12.30pm Midweek Quiet Time at St Stephen’s
Sunday 24 March
10.00am All-Age Congregational Service with the Sacrament of Baptism at St Stephen’s NB New time for Congregational Service: no service at the Old High. Followed by annual meeting
7pm Short Act of Worship for Lent, St Stephen’s Continue reading

Patience and welcome: a sermon for 3 March 2013 (Lent 3)

Old High St Stephen’s, Inverness
Sunday 3 March 2013: Year C, The Third Sunday in Lent

SERMON
Texts: Isaiah 55:1-9
Luke 13.1-9

Patience and welcome

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

‘What have I done to deserve this?’- words I’m sure we have all cried at some point in our lives. Yet most people when they say that today don’t really mean it. Most people don’t believe that there is a God who will punish us for doing wrong. But as people are more aware today of other religions, the idea is creeping back. You hear people say, ‘Don’t do that, that’s bad karma’, which is a word folks have picked up from Buddhism and which they probably don’t really understand. It’s a kind of half belief in a malevolent fate which brings bad things in it’s wake for those who do wrong. But few are really quaking in terror at the thought that there might be divine punishment for being bad.

But alongside ‘What have I done to deserve this?’ there is another question which we like to ask, one which perhaps we’ve been asking a lot recently. Not, What have I done to deserve this?’ but ‘What has he done to deserve this?’. We all seem to find the news more entertaining when we people are caught out, when people apparently get what we think they deserve. Whether it’s a Catholic Cardinal or an hitherto obscure Liberal Democrat politician, or an Olympic athlete who’d previously been a national hero- whoever it is, when we hear about someone in public life getting their comeuppance, many of us are hooked. Continue reading