Sunday Bulletin 28 June 2015

WORSHIP THIS WEEK
Sunday 5 July 2015
10am Morning Worship at St Stephen’s
11.15 Morning Worship at Old High
SUNDAY BULLETIN ITEMS should be sent to Jim Monro:  jimjimmonro.com  The deadline for all items is Wednesday at noon.
NEWS FROM OUR CONGREGATION
For further information and contact details:
E-mail:  invernesschurch<at>gmail.com
WORSHIP TODAY Everyone is welcome to share Communion with us at St Stephen’s. At Old High, we are delighted to welcome our friend Dave Macartney.
WHIST DRIVE this Saturday 4 July in Old High Hall at 7.30pm. Ticket including refreshments £5. Please come and enjoy the evening. Tickets are available today at both Churches. Further information Margaret McAleer.
OLD HIGH HALL DEVELOPMENT was approved at the Presbytery on Tuesday night. We will keep you informed as the work at the hall begins. More information from our Session Clerk, Linda Philip.
PRESBYTERY MODERATOR RECEPTION/MEETING Sincere thanks are due to everyone who helped to ensure that the Moderator’s Reception on behalf of the Rev Alastair Younger was such a success on Friday 19 June. A big thank you to all who cooked and for the generous donations made. The food was lovely and members were very appreciative of the high standard provided. Special thanks to Iris Lyon and her team who worked so hard in the kitchen. The Communion and meeting went well and thanks to everyone again who provided tea and for setting up the church. We still hold the record for the longest meeting – not finishing until 11.25 pm – the previous record was 11.10 pm set by Rev Colin Anderson! Christine Mackenzie Presbytery Elder.
COTTON PATCH GOSPEL CHOIR was a fantastic and original concert. Thank you all for helping out with the concert, for all who helped with the food prep and those who supplied food for the buffet. A big thank you to the hosts for hosting the choir and making them feel so welcome. Thanks to all who made arrangements, especially Joan Darcy. We raised the sum of £512 which will go to our Fabric Fund.
URGENT: OLD HIGH SUMMER OPENING Can you give a few hours of your time to show visitors the most historic building in Inverness? Please sign up on the sheets at the Old High, or call Margaret Sutherland.
OLD HIGH ORGANIST We continue to seek applications and recommendations for this post. Contact: Andrew Stevenson Stevenson.ata<at>btinternet.com
CROSSREACH NEWS and PRAYER DIARY are now available at church doors.
OTHER NEWS
MODERATOR OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY 2016 The Committee elected to nominate the Moderator for the next General Assembly now seeks recommendations from the Church for a person to fulfil this role. Those recommended must be a minister, elder or deacon but any member can make a recommendation using the form which can be downloaded from the news section of the Church of Scotland website. Completed forms should be sent to ljamiesonchurchofscotland.org.uk  by 31 July 2015. The Committee expects to meet short-listed candidates in September.
FOODBANK COLLECTION at Inshes Tesco in Inverness on Thursday 2nd, Friday 3rd and Saturday 4th July. Blythswood are looking for volunteers to spare an hour or two on either the Friday or Saturday afternoon, between 2pm and 5pm. It involves handing out Blythswood shopping lists to customers entering the store, and thanking them for donations. Contact: Lorna Dempster lorna.dempsterblythswood.org.
CHURCH OF SCOTLAND NATIONAL YOUTH ASSEMBLY is a platform for young adults to voice their opinions and actively participate in decision making within the Church of Scotland. Our own Rachel Hutcheson was the Moderator in 1914-15. Dates: 5pm on Friday, 14 August to 5pm on Monday, 17 August 2015. Venue: Gartmore House, Stirlingshire. For further details including travel and accommodation contact Suzi Farrant, Young People and Young Adult’s Development Worker sfarrant<at>churchofscotland.org.uk
PRAYER POINTERS
As we draw closer to God through Holy Communion let us consider this week what we want to say most of all to God? Let us pray:
ADORE – What are some things about God that make Him great in your eyes?
CONFESS – What mistakes have you made that you want to spill out to your Heavenly Father who wants to forgive you?
THANKS – What has been good in your life this week that you consider to have come from God’s hand?
OFFLOAD – What’s bubbling up inside you that you want to get off your chest with God? A question? A hurt? An injustice?
REQUEST – What would you like to ask God to do? What will you trust Him to deal with and to answer according to His wisdom instead of yours?
OUR CONGREGATION – please pray for new full-time student, Dougie Wolf and his family moving from Stornoway to Inverness this weekend.
OUR COMMUNITY – all preparing for weddings over the summer
ABROAD – We pray for Bolivia, Chile, Peru for social injustice to end, for those who feed the poor and a healing for all the individual wounds borne by many.
(Comments and prayer requests always welcome contact Ruth Martin)

Waiting and Thanking: a sermon on Psalm 40; 28 June 2015

Scripture Readings: Psalm 40.1-10

Luke 17:11–19

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

This is the second-last in my series of sermons based on Psalms. The Book of Psalms is the prayer book and hymnbook of the Bible. It’s a collection of songs and liturgy originally written for the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. For centuries, they have been at the heart of Jewish and Christian worship.

UGSP02053_mI’ll never forget one of the first occasions I went to the General Assembly of our church. I was a student, and I went to observe. That year (it was 1990- I looked it up!) the Moderator was one of my teachers, the late Robert Davidson, Professor of Old Testament at Glasgow University. The day I was there, the Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom was there as a guest. After we had sung a metrical Psalm- in the old Scottish style- Bob Davidson invited the Chief Rabbi to address the Assembly, greeting in him as he did so Hebrew. It was a powerful reminder of the Jewish origins of our faith, and how our Christian, Presbyterian worship continues to be suffused with these old Hebrew prayers and hymns, the Psalms. Continue reading

Sunday Bulletin 21 June 2015

WORSHIP THIS WEEK
Sunday 28 June 2015
10am Sacrament of Holy Communion at St Stephen’s
11.15 Morning Worship at Old High
(led by David McCartney)
SUNDAY BULLETIN ITEMS should be sent to Jim Monro: jimjimmonro.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<at>gmail.com
THIS MORNING AT ST STEPHEN’S we are admitting two new members to the congregation, Catherine Kelly and Anna Kelly. Please stay behind after the service to welcome them at the coffee time.
HOLY COMMUNION will be celebrated at St Stephen’s next Sunday- all are welcome to attend and receive the Sacrament.
JAMES KERR GRANT AND THE BATTLE OF WATERLOO Today we welcome at the Old High Church members of the Highland Branch of the Royal Scots Association, following the 200th anniversary of the Battle of the Waterloo. Ensign James Grant Kennedy appears on his family memorial in the Old High Church (see back page photo). He was the son of Dr William Kennedy, one of the founders of the Royal Northern Infirmary. All of Dr Grant’s three sons died on military service; James was aged 15 when he was killed at Waterloo. The Memorial is on the West Stairwell, and all are invited to come and view it after the service. The colours are on display at the Royal Scots Museum at Edinburgh Castle until August, after which they will have to be stored in order to preserve them. Information with the story is available at the Old High (which is open during the day at the moment) and on our website.
COTTON PATCH GOSPEL CHOIR are singing tomorrow night at 7.30pm in St Stephen’s Church. Cotton Patch Gospel is an amazing telling of the story of Jesus’ life, as if he lived in the Southeastern USA, with the lively blue grass style music of Harry Chapin. The cast is the Youth Choir, a group of 30 teenagers, from University United Methodist Church of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA. Tickets £8 per head from Joan Darcy or at Crown Church Office Tuesday to Friday 9.30- noon. Visit our website to hear some of the music!
Sign up for concerts information by email: ohssmusic@gmail.com
OLD HIGH HALL DEVELOPMENT At the Presbytery meeting this Tuesday, we expect that our project to modernize the Old High Halls, and to let part of them to local mental health charity Birchwood Highland will receive final approval. This followed a virtually unanimous decision by the Kirk Session, and two congregational meetings where everyone had a chance to ask questions and comment on the proposals. It also follows extensive consultation with the Church of Scotland Law Department, who are now working in the lease. If you still have any questions about any aspect of the project, please do contact our Session Clerk, Linda Philip.
URGENT: OLD HIGH SUMMER OPENING Can you give a few hours of your time to show visitors the most historic building in Inverness? Please sign up on the sheets at the Old High, or contact Margaret Sutherland.
LUNCH CLUB meets at 12.30pm this Thursday 25 June at the Craigmonie Hotel. Transport is available, please consider joining us for good food and fellowship. Contact Val Cantlay.
OLD HIGH ORGANIST We continue to seek applications and recommendations for this post. Contact: Andrew Stevenson stevenson.ata<at>btinternet.com.
MODERATOR OF PRESBYTERY OF INVERNESS
As many will know the Moderator of the Presbytery of Inverness for 2014/15 has been Rev Alastair Younger who is a member of our Congregation. We may not have seen him in Church during the last two years as he has been Interim Moderator and Locum at Nairn Old Parish Church, but his wife Pat is a regular and enthusiastic member of the Old High Choir.
On Tuesday 23 June the Presbytery Meeting will be held in the Old High Church as it is custom for the June meeting to be held in the ‘Moderator’s Church’. The meeting will be preceded by a service of Holy Communion at 7.00 pm and members of the congregation are very welcome to attend the service and indeed the meeting thereafter. There will be a break between the service and meeting for tea/coffee. Please do join us!
Christine MacKenzie, Presbytery Elder
A COW FOR ETHIOPIA The Sunday School would like to say a big thank you to all the Mums and Dads, Grannies and Grandads and the wider church family who contributed to their ‘brown penny’ collection throughout the year. We are very happy to say that we have reached our target of £150 which the children decided should be sent to Christian Aid to assist their work with women in Ethiopia. £150 enables Christian Aid to provide a cow for a woman in a village in Ethiopia. With a cow a woman can provide milk and butter for her children to eat and can sell spare milk and butter to make extra money. More importantly, owning a cow enables a woman to join in with community meetings and take part in making serious decisions that affect her and her family. Owning a cow is the difference between being heard by your community and being totally ignored – the difference between having food to eat and going hungry. THANK YOU!
OTHER NEWS
SPARK GREYFRIARS a festival of worship and the arts at historic Greyfrairs Kirk, Edinburgh, on Saturday 27 June. Members of the congregation are hoping to go, as we seek ideas for developing our worship life. If you’d like to come, contact Worship Action Team member Andrew Stevenson and at http://www.greyfriarskirk.com/spark-greyfriars-festival-worship-arts-2015 .
MODERATOR OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY 2016 The Committee elected to nominate the Moderator for the next General Assembly now seeks recommendations from the Church for a person to fulfil this role. Those recommended must be a minister, elder or deacon but any member can make a recommendation using the form which can be downloaded from the news section of the Church of Scotland website. Completed forms should be sent to ljaimiesonchurchofscotland.org.uk by 31 July 2015. The Committee expects to meet short-listed candidates in September.
FOODBANK COLLECTION at Inshes Tesco in Inverness on Thursday 2nd, Friday 3rd and Saturday 4th July. Blythswood are looking for volunteers to spare an hour or two on either the Friday or Saturday afternoon, between 2pm and 5pm. It involves handing out Blythswood shopping lists to customers entering the store, and thanking them for donations. Contact: Lorna Dempster lorna.dempsterblythswood.org
CHURCH OF SCOTLAND NATIONAL YOUTH ASSEMBLY is a platform for young adults to voice their opinions and actively participate in decision making within the Church of Scotland. Our own Rachel Hutcheson was the Moderator in 1914-15. Dates: 5pm on Friday, 14 August to 5pm on Monday, 17 August 2015. Venue: Gartmore House, Stirlingshire. For further details including travel and accommodation contact Suzi Farrant, Young People and Young Adult’s Development Worker sfarrantchurchofscotland.org.uk
PRAYER POINTERS
This week we pray for:
 Our church Staff. Peter Nimmo; Arthur Fraser; Dougie Wolf preparing to join us from Stornoway; Pam McCulloch; Alison Gilliland; and Pat McLeod
 Our new communicants Catherine Kelly and Anna Kelly whom we welcome and may they and their families be filled by the Holy Spirit
 Communion at St Stephen’s next week, and the elders on their visits
 Those who volunteer in our church and in the community
 New volunteers to come forward from our congregation to help in the Olive Grove
 An end to the human misery represented through the ‘boat people’ and the 21st century slave trade and sex trade
 The countries of Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay. For the church leaders and lay people who work tirelessly for truth and spreading your word as they comfort those whose relatives have ‘disappeared’

The Lord is my Light: sermon for 21 June 2015

Scripture Readings: Psalm 27.1-6
Matthew 7.24-27

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

LighthouseWhen we talk of divine things, we almost always use images. For we need pictures to help us imagine realities which go beyond words. Today’s Psalm, for instance, praises God for his protection. The Psalmist says God is light, a shelter, a rock- all great images for how God is the ultimate protector. Continue reading

Waterloo memorial at the Old High Church

This Sunday, 21 June 2015, at our 11.15 service, we welcome at the Old High Church members of the Highland Branch of the Royal Scots Association following the two hundredth anniversary of the Battle of the Waterloo.

Kennedy Family Memorial Old High Church  InvernessEnsign James Grant Kennedy, appears on his family memorial in the Old High Church. He was the son of Dr William Kennedy, who was one of the founders of the Royal Northern Infirmary. His inscription on the memorial reads:

JAMES GRANT, ENSIGN ROYAL SCOTS, BORN 13 JUNE 1800. FELL GALLANTLY CARRYING THE COLOURS AT LE QUATER BRAS, WATERLOO 16 JUNE 1815.

All of Doctor Grant’s three sons died in military service; James was aged 15 when he was killed at Waterloo. The Memorial is on the West Stairwell in the church, and all are invited to come and view it after the service at the Old High. The colours are currently on display at the Royal Scots Museum at Edinburgh Castle until August, after which they will have to be stored in order to preserve them.

The Royal Scots leaflet on the colours is available here.

Here is the Scotsman reporting the exhibition of the colours this summer at Edinburgh Castle.

Here is the website of the The Royal Scots Regimental Museum.

Sunday Bulletin 14 June 2015

WORSHIP THIS WEEK
Sunday 21 June 2015
10am Conformation Service at St Stephen’s
(Admission of New Members; Kirk Session meets at 9.45)
11.15 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, please email invernesschurch<at>gmail.com

Cotton Patch Poster smallCOTTON PATCH GOSPEL CHOIR are singing on Monday 22nd June at 7.30pm in St Stephen’s Church. Cotton Patch Gospel is an amazing telling of the story of Jesus’ life, as if he lived in the Southeastern USA, with the lively blue grass style music of Harry Chapin. The cast is the Youth Choir, a group of 30 teenagers, from University United Methodist Church of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA. Tickets £8 per head from Joan Darcy or at Crown Church Office Tuesday to Friday 9.30- noon.
Sign up for concerts information by email: ohssmusic@gmail.com

NEW MEMBERS We will be confirming new members next Sunday at St Stephen’s. Kirk Session will meet at 9.45 in the hall at St Stephen’s.
OLD HIGH SUMMER OPENING Can you give a few hours of your time to show visitors the most historic building in Inverness? Please sign up on the sheets at the Old High, or contact Margaret Sutherland.
FREEWILL OFFERING ENVELOPES are now ready for collection from Sandy Cumming in the Church Hall after this morning’s service. With considerably fewer persons using FWOs, the Kirk Session agreed to purchase a maximum of 100 sets of FWOs. This will save OHSS at least £180 per year but it will also mean that individual envelope numbers have been changed. Apologies for any inconvenience caused by this change. Banker’s Order is a better way to give, and it’s easy set up. Please speak to Sandy Cumming, our Treasurer.
THE CHURCH MAGAZINE is available today for distributors to collect their bundles for delivery to members of the congregation.
A COW FOR ETHIOPIA The Sunday School would like to say a big thank you to all the Mums and Dads, Grannies and Grandads and the wider church family who contributed to their ‘brown penny’ collection throughout the year. We are very happy to say that we have reached our target of £150 which the children decided should be sent to Christian Aid to assist their work with women in Ethiopia. £150 enables Christian Aid to provide a cow for a woman in a village in Ethiopia. With a cow a woman can provide milk and butter for her children to eat and can sell spare milk and butter to make extra money. More importantly, owning a cow enables a woman to join in with community meetings and take part in making serious decisions that affect her and her family. Owning a cow is the difference between being heard by your community and being totally ignored – the difference between having food to eat and going hungry. THANK YOU!
HEALING SERVICE There will be a Healing Service in St Stephen’s this Sunday 14th June at 4pm. Details: Ruth Martin.
OLD HIGH HALL DEVELOPMENT At the congregational meeting on Tuesday 26 May, the congregation voted in favour of proceeding with the development of the Old High halls and leasing part of it to Birchwood Highland. We now hope for Presbytery approval on 23 June. Contact Session Clerk, Linda Philip.
SUNDAY CAR PARKING Highland council have taken the decision to implement payment for parking in public car parks on Sundays. The car parks affected are those where payments are due the rest of the week. This includes the Rose Street car park. Contact: Session Clerk, Linda Philip.
OLD HIGH ORGANIST We continue to seek applications and recommendations for this post. Contact: Andrew Stevenson stevenson.ata<at>btinternet.com
MODERATOR OF PRESBYTERY OF INVERNESS
As many will know the Moderator of the Presbytery of Inverness for 2014/15 has been Rev Alastair Younger who is a member of our Congregation. We may not have seen him in Church during the last two years as he has been Interim Moderator and Locum at Nairn Old Parish Church, but his wife Pat is a regular and enthusiastic member of the Old High Choir.
The late Rev Colin Anderson started the custom of the Moderator having a reception at the end of their term of office and it is our privilege to host this in the Old High Hall on Friday 19 June. It’s an occasion much appreciated by members of Presbytery when they can get together socially, with their partners, away from the usual business meetings. Presbytery members pay for the meal although the hosting congregation prepares it.
On Tuesday 23 June the Presbytery Meeting will be held in the Old High Church as it is custom for the meeting to be held in the ‘Moderator’s Church’. The meeting will be preceded by a service of Holy Communion at 7.00 pm and members of the congregation are very welcome to attend the service and indeed the meeting thereafter. There will be a break between the service and meeting for tea/coffee. Please do join us!
Christine MacKenzie, Presbytery Elder
OTHER NEWS
FOODBANK COLLECTION at Inshes Tesco in Inverness on Thursday 2nd, Friday 3rd and Saturday 4th July. Blythswood are looking for volunteers to spare an hour or two on either the Friday or Saturday afternoon, between 2pm and 5pm. It involves handing out Blythswood shopping lists to customers entering the store, and thanking them for donations. Contact: Lorna Dempster lorna.dempsterblythswood.org
SMALL FARMERS ROADSHOW INVERNESS Saturday, 20 June, 10:00 to 13:00 The Scottish Fair Trade Forum, Christian Aid Scotland and Just Trading Scotland are joining forces to spread the message about smallholder famers and their importance around Scotland! Come and hear about how they are at the forefront of climate change, how they are developing business models and how fair trade can make a difference in their lives and taste some delicious food at Crown Church Hall, Inverness. We may also be lucky enough to have some Malawian farmers visiting to tell their story. Please help us spread the word of this workshop to anyone who might be interested! For more information go to www.invernessft.eventbrite.co.uk/
CHURCH OF SCOTLAND NATIONAL YOUTH ASSEMBLY is a platform for young adults to voice their opinions and actively participate in decision making within the Church of Scotland. Dates: 5pm on Friday, 14 August to 5pm on Monday, 17 August 2015. Venue: Gartmore House, Stirlingshire. For further details including travel and accommodation contact Suzi Farrant, Young People and Young Adult’s Development Worker sfarrantchurchofscotland.org.uk.
THE LEPROSY MISSION fund-raising coffee morning/afternoon tea at 18 Auldcastle Road on Tuesday, 9 June from 10.00am to 12 noon and 2.00pm to 4.00pm. We hope to have Dan and Babs Izzett who represent the Mission in Zimbabwe with us. All welcome. Details: Peter Home.
PRAYER POINTERS
Lord we lift up those below and ask for your blessing on them:
• Peter Nimmo; Arthur Sinclair; David Macartney and their families
• We give thanks for David’s time spent with us and may Your hand be upon him in his next ministry
• We look forward to welcoming Dougie Wolf, from Stornoway
The Sunday School children, their parents and families, the Sunday School Teachers including Rosemary Cumming for 25 years of dedicated service
New members joining Your Church next Sunday: Catherine and Anna Kelly
The bereaved including the family of Helen Morrison
Those known to us who are sick or in care. For the Healing Service this Sunday
The people of Brazil. For an improvement in human justice; reduced tension between traditional ways and modern development; street children

The Road not Taken: reflecting on Psalm 1 and John 14.1-6 14 June 2015

A short reflection for our all-age service

Old Testament Reading: Psalm 1

Gospel Reading: John 14:1-6

road not taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Continue reading

Our Super-impressive God! A sermon on Psalm 113. Sunday 7 June 2015: The Second after Pentecost

Scripture Readings: Psalm 113
Luke 15:8-10
Sermon
Super-impressive!
In the name of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen.

Once I get past check-in, security, passport control and the duty free lounge, I quite like flying. It does not make me scared; rather I get a thrill when we accelerate along the runway, and lift off. Once we’re up, I like to look out of the window. I love maps, so it’s fun to try to work out where we are if there is a break in the cloud. On one trip I was sure we were over Liverpool because I could see the River Mersey and the shape of the Wirral Peninsula where Birkenhead is- and I was right!

When you look down from a great height, you can find yourself pondering what’s happening down there. Flying across a populated area at night, if you see the glow of floodlights from a sports stadium, you know there is sports meeting of some sort happening. A ship leaving a harbour, you can imagine the crew getting ready for a long voyage. But mostly you guess.

When you see the lights of the cars on a motorway, you can only guess where everybody is going. (Though if they are all standing still, you can imagine they are frustrated by being caught in a traffic jam!). But if you are over hills or mountains, and you catch sight of headlights, you can wonder, ‘There is someone driving along a lonely road tonight. He has no idea that someone has seen him, and even if we ever were to meet up, we wouldn’t know each other’. You make a connection, of sorts, even from 30,000 feet.

Something of that sort of impression can be gained from reading Psalm 113. This is a Psalm of praise, which emphasises the glory of God. After a call to worship: ‘Praise the Lord! You servants of the Lord, praise his name!’ the Psalm speaks of how God will be praise from east and west. For the Lord, says the Psalm:

‘rules over all nations;
his glory is above the heavens.
There is no one like the Lord our God.
He lives in the heights above,
but he bends down to see the heavens and the earth’.

By Mohammed Tawsif Salam (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Mohammed Tawsif Salam (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

The idea of God living in the sky is an old one. For people who lived before aircraft, never mind spaceflight, the sky must have seemed a mysterious places. No wonder we still sometimes speak of the sky as ‘the heavens’. Maybe that’s why flying can make us seem a bit godlike: from 30,000 feet I can watch you driving your car! I see you, whether you’re aware of it or not! But of course my knowledge of what is happening in the ground when I’m at 30,000 feet is minimal. Even the captain of the aircraft has only air traffic control to speak to.

It is not literally true that God lives in the sky (I probably don’t need to say that!). Yet that imagery reminds us that there is something about God which makes him no entirely accessible to human minds. The sky metaphor was a good one- it emphasized that there is much about God to which we cannot approach. Our knowledge of God is limited, for God is, ultimately, mystery.

And another aspect of God which the sky metaphor brings out is that God does have, in a sense, a bird’s eye view of all that is going on. He sees it all from ‘up there’. Flying also gives you that new perspective, a wider perspective, which sometimes we find it hard to keep in mind. Too often we are caught up in our local or personal concerns- not that the local or the personal is not important.

I delight in being a parish minister- the highest calling our democratically-minded church can offer. My parish is my calling. The local is absolutely important, for that is my first priority. And so is the personal- as a pastor, I am to care for people, and their personal situations, personal stories, are meat and drink to me.

The adjective that refers to parish is ‘parochial’. I am proud to be a parochial clergyman. Yet not for nothing is the word parochial often used in a derogatory manner. My dictionary does indeed define the word parochial as ‘of or relating to a parish’; but it also mentions those other, negative meanings; ‘(of sentiments, tastes, etc.) restricted or confined within narrow limits’. Parochialism is defined as ‘provincialism, narrowness of view’ (Chambers Dictionary, 1998).

We cannot always be parochial- and this Psalm is reminding us that God is not parochial. God is not even national: ‘God rules over all nations’ says the Psalmist. It’s strange how when you fly, you are rarely able to tell when you have left one country and entered another. On the ground there may be customs posts, but in the sky we leave that behind. We can fly seamlessly over a dozen countries and hardly notice.

The great thing about Israel’s God was that he was not simply Israel’s God. The Old Testament was formed in an age when each tribe, each nation, had their own gods. But Israel’s God was maker of heaven and earth; he transcended all national boundaries. The Hebrews were, therefore, a bit dismissive of other people’s little local gods. In Psalm 115 we read:

Why should the nations ask us,
“Where is your God?”
Our God is in heaven;
he does whatever he wishes.

Israel’s God is a god of a different order entirely. He is the God of the entire world, of all peoples, of all nations.

Too often, we get caught up in our parochial concerns so that we forget the wider context. Our Church of Scotland counteracts that by grouping congregations in areas- the Presbytery. And it provides a national forum, the General Assembly. And from the start of the ecumenical movement, the Church of Scotland has been part of wider bodies which link us with Christians around the world and of other denominations. We need that wider perspective, to be aware of the world around us.

Indeed, I think that is why Christians often make such good internationalists. We will pray today, as we do each Sunday, for the church and for the world. Not just for our own congregation, but for the church around the world. Not just for our own community, but for the wider world. Christians are often people with a wider perspective, feeling a connection to people who may live far away, but with whom we share a common ground- Jesus Christ. It’s why Christians become missionaries or aid workers in foreign parts, and why we support Christian Aid. It’s why we should always object to anyone that wants to hijack God for just one nation- for we know that God is not American, not English, not Scottish. God is (if you like) above all that.

Apollo 8, the first manned mission to the moon, entered lunar orbit on Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, 1968. That evening, the astronauts-Commander Frank Borman, Command Module Pilot Jim Lovell, and Lunar Module Pilot William Anders-held a live broadcast from lunar orbit, in which they showed pictures of the Earth and moon as seen from their spacecraft. Said Lovell, "The vast loneliness is awe-inspiring and it makes you realize just what you have back there on Earth." They ended the broadcast with the crew taking turns reading from the book of Genesis. Image Credit: NASA

Apollo 8, the first manned mission to the moon, entered lunar orbit on Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, 1968. That evening, the astronauts-Commander Frank Borman, Command Module Pilot Jim Lovell, and Lunar Module Pilot William Anders-held a live broadcast from lunar orbit, in which they showed pictures of the Earth and moon as seen from their spacecraft. Said Lovell, “The vast loneliness is awe-inspiring and it makes you realize just what you have back there on Earth.” They ended the broadcast with the crew taking turns reading from the book of Genesis.
Image Credit: NASA

That wider vision has its roots in the ancient Hebrew ideas about God- that he is Lord of all the nations, because he is the creator of the world- what we find in the
first part of Psalm 113. It’s what it means to describe God as enthroned on high. It gives us the sense that God’s infinite majesty takes him, in a sense, beyond the local. He has a view of the entire planet- something humans could never have imagined until the space age. Nowadays we are used to seeing the pictures of the entire planet, taken from space. There’s a famous ‘earthrise’ of planet earth rising over the mountains of the moon. The ancient Hebrews were imagining that God had such a view of the earth- or even the whole creation.

This narrow-angle color image of the Earth, dubbed 'Pale Blue Dot', is a part of the first ever 'portrait' of the solar system taken by Voyager 1. The spacecraft acquired a total of 60 frames for a mosaic of the solar system from a distance of more than 4 billion miles from Earth and about 32 degrees above the ecliptic. From Voyager's great distance Earth is a mere point of light, less than the size of a picture element even in the narrow-angle camera. Earth was a crescent only 0.12 pixel in size. Coincidentally, Earth lies right in the center of one of the scattered light rays resulting from taking the image so close to the sun. This blown-up image of the Earth was taken through three color filters -- violet, blue and green -- and recombined to produce the color image. The background features in the image are artifacts resulting from the magnification.  Image Credit:     NASA/JPL

This narrow-angle color image of the Earth, dubbed ‘Pale Blue Dot’, is a part of the first ever ‘portrait’ of the solar system taken by Voyager 1. The spacecraft acquired a total of 60 frames for a mosaic of the solar system from a distance of more than 4 billion miles from Earth and about 32 degrees above the ecliptic. From Voyager’s great distance Earth is a mere point of light, less than the size of a picture element even in the narrow-angle camera. Earth was a crescent only 0.12 pixel in size. Coincidentally, Earth lies right in the center of one of the scattered light rays resulting from taking the image so close to the sun. This blown-up image of the Earth was taken through three color filters — violet, blue and green — and recombined to produce the color image. The background features in the image are artifacts resulting from the magnification.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL

There as a striking image taken some years ago by a Voyager craft, which, as it left our solar system, turned its camera backward for one last look at its home planet. It took a picture from so far way, our earth was only a small smudge of light, like a tiny star. Just imagine that- that small speck is where everyone is that you’ve ever known, everywhere you’ve ever been or are likely to go, and where all the music and art and culture you have ever known was created. A small speck in a vast ocean of dark space- it does rather make our wars and arguments seen tiny and insignificant, does it not? That is the wider picture, the picture which God has- one that certainly does transcend parochialism.

But does this mean that we are small and insignificant to God? Well, the Psalmist makes an interesting move in the second half of the Psalm:

There is no one like the Lord our God.
He lives in the heights above,
but he bends down
to see the heavens and the earth.
He raises the poor from the dust;
he lifts the needy from their misery
and makes them companions of princes,
the princes of his people.

More picture language; but, again, something here from these old Hebrew ideas about God which have carried on in our faith today. We can speak so much about the might, the mystery, the ineffable distance between humanity and God- but it also needs to be tempered by the thought that God is also, at the same time, very close. If I see those car headlights moving down a mountain road, I might be able to conjure up a picture of an anxious driver, straining to see out his windscreen, and wonder why he is travelling along such a lonely road at night. But I don’t know why he’s travelling, where he’s going, or even who he is.

The Psalmist says that the God knows, and cares. He wants to raise up the poor from the dust- no-one, not even the least of God’s people, are beyond God’s care and attention. The Psalmist even suggests that God is concerned about a woman who is distressed because she has no children. For God is never closer to us than when we suffer, are in distress, or are feeling hopeless.

Jesus understood this very well. In the short parable we heard, Jesus comes tells the story of a woman who has lost a coin. She searches high and low until she finds it- for a small coin like that could be worth a lot to a poor Jewish peasant woman in Jesus’ day. This is really a version of the parable which appears just before this in Luke’s Gospel, the parable of the lost sheep. One sheep is lost, and the shepherd sets out to find it- and great the rejoicing when the sheep is found.

For God has come looking for us. In Jesus of Nazareth, God is present in our world, coming to us to offer us salvation. For the Christian God is not content to simply spy us out from afar. Our God is almighty and majestic beyond our imaging. As creator of the universe, he is further beyond our reach and our ken than the furthest galaxy. Yet he is as close to us as our breath. He knows, says Jesus, who many hairs we have on our heads. He is concerned for us like an ever-loving father, like a mother for her children. This is the great paradox of Christian faith- that the God of the universe is also intimately involved with the world he has made and with each of his creature. That he feels our pain and rejoices in our joys. God is personal, and even parochial in the best sense. Yet also has the whole world in his hands, for he has the whole picture.

Ascription of Praise

All things were created by God,
and all things exist through God and for God.
To God be glory for ever! Amen.

Romans 11.36 (GNB alt)

Biblical references from the Good News Bible, unless otherwise stated
© 2015 Peter W Nimmo

Sunday Bulletin 7 June 2015

WORSHIP THIS WEEK
14 June 2015: The Third Sunday after Pentecost
10am Sundae Sunday: All Age Service at St Stephen’s Congregational Service:
No Service at Old High
SUNDAY BULLETIN ITEMS should be sent to Jim Monro: jimjimmonro.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
ALL-AGE CONGREGATIONAL SERVICE (SUNDAE SUNDAY) at St Stephen’s NEXT SUNDAY 14 June at 10am (no service at Old High). We will be saying goodbye to David Macartney and presenting a long-service certificate to Sunday School teacher Rosemary Cumming, as well as giving prizes to the Sunday School. And there’ll be ice cream afterwards!
SOUTHSIDE CARE HOME a short service, led by Jim Alexander, at Southside Care Home immediately after this morning’s service at St Stephen’s. If you are able to assist with the singing, please meet in the transept at St Stephen’s after the service, your assistance would be much appreciated. We still also seek members willing to lead these services on a rota basis; please contact Janet Robertson.
OLD HIGH SUMMER OPENING Can you give a few hours of your time to show visitors the most historic building in Inverness? Please sign up on the sheets at the Old High, or contact Margaret Sutherland.
CHRISTIAN AID WEEK A big thank you to all those who contributed to this year’s OHSS Christian Aid Week effort in all sorts of ways.Our three main events this year, with money raised were the Coffee Morning – £957, the Church Collection – £592 and the House to House in the parish – £4070. In addition the Gift Aid donations amounted to approx. £2,500 which will add significantly to the total. And of course there was also the monies given separately to Rachel for her Nepal Mountain Climb and the Nepal church retiral offering. So the Christian Aid sum total paid in to their bank account totals some £5507 which is slightly up on last year’s figure of £5,339. I think that to achieve an increase is amazingly wonderful so thank you again for coffee makers, garden planters, door steppers, bakers, cash counters et al surely a sign of the Christian spirit at work among us. Ken Cantlay.
THE LEPROSY MISSION fund-raising coffee morning/afternoon tea at 18 Auldcastle Road on Tuesday, 9 June from 10.00am to 12 noon and 2.00pm to 4.00pm. We hope to have Dan and Babs Izzett who represent the Mission in Zimbabwe with us. All welcome. Details: Peter Home.
COTTON PATCH GOSPEL CHOIR are singing on Monday 22nd June at 7.30pm in St Stephen’s Church. Cotton Patch Gospel is an amazing telling of the story of Jesus’ life, as if he lived in the Southeastern USA, with the lively blue grass style music of Harry Chapin. The cast is the Youth Choir, a group of 30 teenagers, from University United Methodist Church of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA. Tickets £8 per head from Joan Darcy or at Crown Church Office Tuesday to Friday 9.30- noon. Sign up for concerts information by email: ohssmusic<at>gmail.com
SUNDAY CAR PARKING Highland Council have taken the decision to implement payment for parking in public car parks on Sundays. The car parks affected are those where payments are due the rest of the week. This includes the Rose Street car park. Contact: Session Clerk, Linda Philp.
OLD HIGH ORGANIST We continue to seek applications and recommendations for this post. Contact: Andrew Stevenson: stevenson.ata<at>btinternet.com).
OTHER NEWS
OLIVE GROVE Shortly we will have some spaces in our friendly afternoon teams, and can offer 2, 3 or 4 hour slots. We appreciate volunteers need flexibility, and we are good at providing cover from our supply list when you need a day off. Mostly we are looking for waiting staff, but if you are interested in cooking or baking we would like to hear from you also. Please drop in to have any questions answered, and leave your name and telephone number.
CHURCH OF SCOTLAND NATIONAL YOUTH ASSEMBLY is a platform for young adults to voice their opinions and actively participate in decision making within the Church of Scotland. Dates: 5pm on Friday, 14 August to 5pm on Monday, 17 August 2015. Venue: Gartmore House, Stirlingshire. For further details including travel and accommodation contact Suzi Farrant, Young People and Young Adult’s Development Worker sfarrantchurchofscotland.org.uk.
ADVANCE NOTICES
WANT TO SERVE GOD? “It’s Your Call” Vocations Conference- anyone interested in full-time ministry in the church, or in the Readership, is required to attend this conference. The conference offers an inspirational keynote speech on the Call to Serve Today, practical information and the opportunity to ask important questions about how God might be calling you. Queen’s Cross Parish Church, Aberdeen, 27 June 2015. Details: Heather French, or the Minister.
SMALL FARMERS ROADSHOW INVERNESS Saturday, 20 June, 10:00 to 13:00 The Scottish Fair Trade Forum, Christian Aid Scotland and Just Trading Scotland are joining forces to spread the message about smallholder farmers and their importance around Scotland! Come and hear about how they are at the forefront of climate change, how they are developing business models and how fair trade can make a difference in their lives and taste some delicious food at Crown Church Hall, Inverness. We may also be lucky enough to have some Malawian farmers visiting to tell their story. Please help us spread the word of this workshop to anyone who might be interested! For more information go to www.invernessft.eventbrite.co.uk/