Leftover people: Sermon for the Kirking of the Council, 11 September 2016

Scripture Readings: Isaiah 1.15-18 (not Lectionary)

Luke 15:1-10

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

At the beginning of today’s Bible reading, Jesus of Nazareth is in trouble. This happened to Jesus a lot. Again and again, he went against people’s expectations, and this upset some of them.

Luke tells us that, ‘all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him’. Tax collectors were not popular in a country under Roman occupation. Sinners were those who were thought to have broken moral and religious rules.

This causes ‘the Pharisees and the scribes’ to grumble. These are the respectable, those who think of themselves as very religious and moral. Nowadays they might be called ‘role-models’, to show the rest of us how to live. Admired by most people, they have a high opinion of themselves, for they are the kind of people who usually think they are right. And they believe that they have God on their side.

So they grumble: ‘This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them’. They think that Jesus is attracting the wrong crowd. How can Jesus be a respected religious teacher, if his audience attracts people who are pretty irreligious? As the Pharisees and the scribes see it, there must be something wrong with a religious teacher who attracts the outcasts, the scum, the dregs of society, the irreligious, the immoral.

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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