Faith and Current Issues: Discussions in Lent

God_the_Geometer

How should Christian faith affect our attitudes to controversial issues?

A chance for conversations about the big questions facing the world today.

Come to one or come to all!

Each Sunday night in Lent, 7-8pm, beginning 22 February, at St Stephen’s Church, Southside Road, Inverness IV2 4XA

The topics for each week are as follows:

22 February: Economics Inequality, poverty, tax- how do we make our country fairer for all?

1 March: Education Should the church be in our schools? Religious education and religious observance

8 March: International issues War and peace, asylum seekers, refugees- What is the church is doing?

15 March: Caring for the earth Climate change, fracking, sustainable energy. How Green is our Christianity?

22 March The ethics of science Embryo research, Frankenstein foods- should we play God with nature?

Contact us for more information.

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.

Rev Martin Johnstone, Priority Areas Secretary of the Kirk, to speak at the Old High Church, Sunday 11 August 2013 7.30pm

Martin-Johnstone Rev Martin Johnstone, Priority Areas Secretary of the Church of Scotland and Chief Executive of Faith in Community Scotland will be our guest speaker at a summer evening service on 11 August 2013 at the Old High Church.

People have said of Martin Johnstone that if he had chosen to work in the private sector he would have become a very rich man. Martin isn’t so sure and reckons that he would more likely have ended up broke. Whatever the truth, he has chosen to use his skills and creativity over the last 20 years to work with faith communities tackling poverty across Scotland. In Bellshill, where he was a Church of Scotland minister for ten years in the 90s, the local congregation developed a community centre catering for over 2,000 visitors a week. Since then, he has coordinated the Church of Scotland’s work in its poorest neighbourhoods across Scotland, a role he combines with being Chief Executive of Faith in Community Scotland – an anti-poverty organisation working with faith communities across the country. Each of these areas of work are now effective businesses which, in turn, have generated many more groups and organisations tackling poverty the length and breadth of Scotland. Martin says of himself: “I don’t know that I am very good at many things. However, the one thing I know I can do is to believe in other people’s dreams and to help them to turn those dreams into reality.”

The Priority Areas Committee of the Church of Scotland is responsible for the support, development and coordination of the Church’s work within its poorest 56 communities. Their mandate includes-

  • Developing new models of church life;
  • Engaging the wider church and society on issues of poverty;
  • Developing new models of community. Faith in Community Scotland is an interfaith anti-poverty organisation giving training, resources, advice and support to faith groups (churches, mosques, gurdwaras, synagogues etc), developing their potential to make a difference in Scotland’s poorest communities.

Old High-1 Old High St Stephen’s Parish Church 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, and ends around 9pm.

Please leave a comment if you would like more information.

Faith, renewal and service: a sermon for the Fourth Sunday of Easter

Old High St Stephen’s, Inverness
Sunday 21 April 2013: Year C, The Fourth Sunday of Easter

SERMON
Texts: John 10:22-30
Acts 9:36-43

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

On this joyous Sunday, we’re celebrating eight people who have chosen to associate themselves with the work of the church, and to follow Jesus wherever that might lead them. Ian, Martin, Alana, Alexandra, Ashleigh, Louise, Kirsty and John have been meeting together with a number of other enquirers and members of the congregation in our Christian Basics course over the last few months. This year I tried to freshen up my new member’s course, adding new material and activities to it. But what really made a difference was the participation of existing members of the congregation. Continue reading

What is Christianity really about?

From our Minister, Peter:

Christian Basics is the course the Minister runs about the basics of the Christian faith. I’m rejigging it this year, and to help me I’ve been asking on social media, ‘What is Christianity really about?’

Some of the answers so far include:

‘Love God, love others. No limits, no exceptions’.

‘ I think Christianity is about the Love of God for his church and creation and our ability to return that love and share it with others’.

‘Some tweets make me ask the same question ;-)’

What do you think Christianity is really about? Put your answers in the comments box below, or reply via our Facebook page or Twitter!

Looking forward to hearing from you!- Peter

(Christian Basics will run on Sunday nights at 7pm at St Stephen’s, beginning on 17 February: starts with a brief service of Evening Prayers for Lent).

Please email peternimmo (at) minister.com for more information.