Sunday Bulletin for 14 December 2014

WORSHIP THIS WEEK
Sunday 21 December
11.15am Congregational Service – Service of Lessons and Carols at Old High followed by Christmas Lunch
CHRISTMAS SERVICES AT OLD HIGH ST STEPHEN’S
Christmas Eve
6.30pm All Age service at St Stephen’s
11.30pm Watchnight Service at St Stephen’s
Christmas Day
10.30am Christmas Day service at St Stephen’s (bring your gifts along!)
St Stephen’s Day (26 December)
10.30am St Stephen’s Day service at St Stephen’s
Please note that, contrary to the Month of Sundays, our Christmas Day and St Stephen’s Day services at Stephen’s are at 10.30am.
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:
E-mail:invernesschurch@gmail.com
CHURCH ACTION PLAN & OLD HIGH HALLS The Action Plan on property and finance, which has been adopted by the Kirk Session, was published in the last edition of the Church Magazine (anyone who has not received a magazine should contact our Session Clerk, Linda Philip lindajphilip@hotmail.com). We plan to hold an Information Evening for the congregation on Tuesday 13 January from 7-8pm at the Old High Hall when there will be a chance to ask questions and make suggestions about the Action Plan. We hope everyone will want to come along and find out about the Session’s plans for the future of the congregation. If you require a lift to the meeting, please contact your elder.
One item on the Action Plan was to consider the future use of the Old High Hall. We have received an approach from local charity Birchwood Highland, an excellent Inverness mental ill-health charity established over 25 years ago (birchwoodhighland.org.uk). Their best known project is the recovery centre off Muirfield Road, just behind the old Hilton Hospital. Birchwood urgently require new office and meeting space, and have identified the Old High Hall as possibly suitable for their needs. As this would mean us giving up part of the halls for Birchwood’s exclusive use, and involve internal changes to the building, we now require the approval in principle of the Presbytery of Inverness. Their Property Committee meets in January, and require that the congregation be consulted on the suggestion. We therefore have to hold a short meeting, for this purpose only, following the 11.15am congregational service on 21 December at Old High (just before our Christmas lunch). The Kirk Session warmly commends this idea for the congregation’s consideration, as it could help us secure the future Old High Halls, as well as giving much needed help to an excellent local charity. Any final agreement with Birchwood would need to be approved later by the Church of Scotland’s Law Department and General Trustees, and by the congregation. At this point, what is needed is the congregation’s approval in principle to explore the idea. More details will be available next Sunday, but if you require more information beforehand, please contact our Session Clerk, Linda Philip (details above). We hope for a good attendance at this meeting from all parts of the congregation, as this is a vital matter for us all, regardless of whether we worship normally at St Stephen’s or at the Old High.
Please note that because of the time of year and time constraints, the meeting on Sunday 21 December will only be about the hall proposal, but the meeting on January 13 will be about all aspects of the Action Plan.
CHURCH ADMINISTRATOR Pat Macleod is now settling into her role as our church administrator. Pat works from home, and you can contact her at (invernesschurch@gmail.com ).
OLD HIGH GIVING TREE will be in the east corridor today. Alex Gilchrist (Homeless Trust) says there are about 50 homeless, roughly half men half women. All gifts in the past have been gratefully received and your continued generous support will be much appreciated. Toiletries (alcohol free), hats, gloves, scarves and socks are always welcome. Please wrap each item separately to ensure fair distribution. Queries Sheila MacLeod or Diana Fraser.
ST STEPHEN’S GIVING TREE Presents for the Giving Tree should have been returned by 14 December. However if you have forgotten to bring your gift you can still deliver it to Cliff Sim, not later than 17 December. Many grateful thanks to everyone who gave generously to the needy people in our city. Your gift may be the only one someone gets!
HEALING SERVICE There will be a healing service in St Stephen’s on 14 December at 4pm to which all are welcome. Contact Ruth Martin.
SOCIAL & FUNDRAISING ACTION GROUP raised £311 at the Whist Drive on 2 December. Thanks to all who donated/participated. Grateful thanks to Kate Leckie who organised the evening.
HOBBY CRAFT EVENINGS will recommence in the middle of January.
CONFIRMATION CLASS for anyone wishing to become a full member of the church will run in the New Year. Please contact the Minister if you are interested (peternimmo@minister.com).
OTHER NEWS
THE OLIVE GROVE has been run entirely by volunteers for five and a half years. Currently, there are a few spaces which need to be filled to continue the smooth running of the tearoom. If anyone can spare 2 hours per week in the New Year, they would be delighted to hear from you. Working in one of the teams is a hugely enjoyable experience for both men and women. Please drop in to talk to us, or contact Eileen Ardern.
FOOD FOR FAMILIES Highland Homeless Trust is arranging this project this Christmas – throughout December and into the first week in January. Hopefully we can manage to provide teams to do cooking w/c 8 December and 5 January. All ingredients are provided together with containers and this year there is a choice of cooking: Vegetable Broth, Mince & Tatties or Spaghetti Bolognese. Contact Christine MacKenzie christinemac73@hotmail.com for further details.
CROSSREACH (the social work branch of the Church of Scotland) have a specialist dementia Care Home, Cameron House, at Culduthel Road, Inverness. They are currently recruiting for Relief Care Workers and Relief Housekeeping Assistants. Full training will be given. For more information or an application pack please contact the Service Manager, Pat Birse.
CROWN CHURCH QUIET DAY Saturday 20 December, 12-4pm. Experience the peace and beauty of the candlelit Crown Church, a haven from the bustle outside. Come and go as you please. Refreshments (small charge) available. Details from David Crippin crippin@nildram.co.uk.

For such a time as this: a sermon on Esther for Advent 2

Old High St Stephen’s, Inverness
Sunday 7 December 2014: Narrative Lectionary, Advent 2
SERMON
Texts: Esther 4.1-17
Matthew 5.13-16
For such a time as this

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

I mentioned last week that we were embarking on a bit of an adventure as far as our Sunday Bible readings are concerned. We are using a new system of readings for each Sunday. Such a table of readings is called a lectionary, and for the first time in many years I’ve decided to change the lectionary I use from week to week.

The Narrative Lectionary seeks to take us through the broad sweep of the biblical story, but as we get into Advent you may feel you are missing some of the familiar characters we tend to come across at this time of the year. Don’t worry- Mary and Joseph and the angels and shepherds are coming soon. But as we prepare for Christmas this year, we’re mostly in the world of the Old Testament. Last week, the prophet Habakkuk encouraged us to look around and have faith that God will come and save his people. This Sunday, we are in a different time, and again we hear a story of salvation.

This week, I was reading Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson (not for the first time). It’s set in eighteen century Scotland, following the 1745 Jacobite rebellion. There various settings which are colourfully described- Edinburgh, Queensferry, Mull, Appin and other parts of the Highlands. And at its heart is an actual event, the ‘Appin Murder’, of 1752. Many of the characters are real people, but although it is, essentially, a fictitious adventure story- an historical novel, a story weaved around historical events.

The Book of Esther tells a story which is set in the Persian Empire, at the time when the people of Israel, defeated in war, are mostly living in exile. It begins by mentioning that it all takes place in the reign of King Xerxes (486BC- 465 BC). Yet although it has an historical setting, the tale hangs on a number of improbable coincidences which have led many scholars to think of it as almost like an historical novel (eg DJA Clines, Harper’s Bible Commentary, p387; SAW Crawford, Women’s Bible Commentary p132).

Historical or not, is certainly a good tale. Continue reading

Sunday Bulletin for 7 December 2014

WORSHIP THIS WEEK
Sunday 14 December
10am All Age Service at St Stephen’s
11.15am 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:
E-mail:invernesschurch@gmail.com
CHRISTMAS SERVICES please note that, contrary to the Month of Sundays, our Christmas Day and St Stephen’s Day services at St Stephen’s are at 10.30am.
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 TONIGHT at St Stephen’s at 6pm. Suitable for all ages. Details: David Anderson.
OLD HIGH GIVING TREE will be in the east corridor on 7 and 14 December. Alex Gilchrist (Homeless Trust) says there are about 50 homeless, roughly half men half women. All gifts in the past have been gratefully received and your continued generous support will be much appreciated. Toiletries (alcohol free), hats, gloves, scarves and socks are always welcome. Please wrap each item separately to ensure fair distribution. Queries Sheila MacLeod or Diana Fraser.
ST STEPHEN’S GIVING TREE will be at the door today and next Sunday. Gifts will be distributed to Beechwood, Cale House, Manna House, Mackenzie Centre, Hilton Village (Social Work), Porterfield Prisoners’ Children & Barnardo’s Springboard (toiletries for vulnerable youngsters aged 16 to 20 years). It would be appreciated if gifts could be handed in on Sunday 14th December for distribution by 19th December. Further details Cliff Sim.
INVERNESS STREET PASTORS At last Sunday’s Communion service £220.42 was raised and donated to the Pastors.
SERVICES AT CARE HOMES Members and friends of the congregation are warmly invited to help and participate in the following short acts of worship. At Southside Care Home this morning, following St Stephen’s service. We meet in the transept and will leave shortly after to sing carols, accompanied on the piano by Ron Stevenson. Also at Aden House Care Home, Annfield Road on Tuesday 9th December at 2.00pm. On this occasion the worship will be led by Rev Jim Christie. Further information from Jim Alexander.
CHRISTMAS TEA & CHAT All are invited to come along to St Stephen’s Hall on Thursday 11 December from 2pm to enjoy tea and Christmas home baking. An informal social gathering for everyone- you will be made most welcome. Information: Val Cantlay or Rae Swan.
ST STEPHEN’S DOOR DUTY rota is available in the vestry. Please pick up your copy. I need one more volunteer for April (it could be you). Thanks to everyone for their hard work and help in 2014. Deborah Macrae.
CHURCH MAGAZINE should now have been delivered, but if you did not get one, please call Linda Philip.
INVERNESS HANDBELLS are playing Carols in Simpsons Garden Centre on 13 December between 11.45am-12.45pm and 1.15pm-2.15pm.  Details: Rena Beaton.
OTHER NEWS
FOOD FOR FAMILIES Highland Homeless Trust is arranging this project this Christmas- throughout December and into the first week in January. Hopefully we can manage to provide teams to do cooking w/c 8 December and 5 January. All ingredients are provided together with containers and this year there is a choice of cooking: Vegetable Broth, Mince & Tatties or Spaghetti Bolognese. Contact Christine MacKenzie christinemac73@hotmail.com for further details.
INVERNESS FOODSTUFF a new ecumenical charity to address food poverty among the homeless population of Inverness. We are planning to make and serve hot meals twice a week using surplus food from grocery stores and 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. To help, please contact Jill Kent jillkent@me.com.
CROSSREACH (the social work branch of the Church of Scotland) have a specialist dementia Care Home, Cameron House, at Culduthel Road, Inverness. They are currently recruiting for Relief Care Workers and Relief Housekeeping Assistants. Full training will be given. For more information or an application pack please contact the Service Manager, Pat Birse.

Time for vision- a sermon for the First Sunday of Advent

SERMON
Texts: Habakkuk 1:1-4; 2:1-4; 3:17-19
Matthew 26:36-38
Time for vision
In the name of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen.

This first Sunday of Advent is a bit different for me from usual. Many of you will know that I tend to choose the Sunday readings from what is called a lectionary. The word lectionary comes from the Latin lectio, to read; and it is a table of readings for each Sunday of the year. So my scripture readings are not random- they are taken from a weekly list of readings which have been carefully chosen. The advantage of a lectionary is that it takes us through a lot of the Bible, and ensures you don’t just always just hear my favourite passages!

The Christian year traditionally begins on the First Sunday of Advent- today. But this year is different from me because I have decided- in the spirit of trying to keep fresh- to use a new lectionary. It’s called the Narrative Lectionary, and it came to my attention through a publication called Spill the Beans. Spill the Beans is a periodical, published on the internet, with ideas for prayer, preaching and education in churches. It is produced by a group of people largely from the Church of Scotland. We have already been using it with our Sunday School, and they seem to be enjoying it very much. Continue reading

Sunday Bulletin for 30 November 2014

WORSHIP THIS WEEK
Sunday 7 December
10am Morning Worship at St Stephen’s
11.15 Morning Worship at Old High
6pm Alternativity at St Stephen’s
SUNDAY BULLETIN ITEMS should be sent to Jim Munro:
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:
E-mail: invernesschurch@gmail.com
NEWS FROM OUR CONGREGATION
OLD HIGH GIVING TREE
will be in the east corridor on 7 and 14 December (or you can give today at St Stephen’s). Alex Gilchrist (Homeless Trust) says there are about 50 homeless, roughly half men half women. All gifts in the past have been gratefully received and your continued generous support will be much appreciated. Toiletries (alcohol free), hats, gloves, scarves and socks are always welcome. Please wrap each item separately to ensure fair distribution. Queries Sheila MacLeod or Diana Fraser.
ST STEPHEN’S GIVING TREE
will be at the door today and next Sunday. Please choose a tag from the Tree and return the red bow for future use. Details of the gifts required are on the labels. Please wrap your gifts, attaching the label for identification and return them either on 7 or 14 December for subsequent distribution. Gifts are for Beechwood, Cale House, Manna House, Mackenzie Centre, Hilton Village (Social Work), Porterfield Prisoners’ Children & Barnardo’s Springboard (toiletries for vulnerable youngsters aged 16 to 20 years). Info: Cliff Sim.
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 6pm. Suitable for all ages. For more details, or to volunteer to help with catering or leading a part of the worship, please contact David Anderson.
WHIST DRIVE
Old High Hall on Tuesday 2 December, 7.30pm. Tickets £5 include refreshments. This should be a fun evening which we hope you will support. Tickets can be bought at both buildings from Team Members (Old High – Kate Leckie/ Christina Cameron/ Diana Fraser or St Stephen’s – Susan Macleod/ Ardyn Scott Brown/ Margaret McAleer ). Information Margaret MacAleer.
HOBBY/CRAFT EVENINGS
fortnightly in St Stephen’s Hall- 7.30pm Wednesday 3 December. 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. Details: Margaret McAleer.
CHRISTMAS TEA & CHAT
You are invited to come along to St Stephen’s Hall on Thursday 11 December from 2pm to enjoy tea and Christmas home baking. An informal social gathering for everyone- you will be made most welcome. Information: Val Cantlay or Rae Swan.
CHRISTMAS CONCERT
St Stephen’s Choir and Community Choir- Stephen’s Church on 17 & 18 December, 7.30pm. Donations to Marie Curie and Women’s Aid Inverness. Tickets £8 include mulled wine and mincemeat pies! Details Joan Darcy.
DING DONG MERRILY OLD HIGH
A grand total of £326.86 was received in aid of the DEC Ebola fund. This is great news and well done to all concerned.
OLD HIGH VISITORS
The donation boxes were opened after the open season and £223.68 was made in various notes and coinage. All subject to Gift Aid. Thanks to all who were on duty this year.
ST STEPHEN’S DOOR DUTY
rota is available in the vestry. Please pick up your copy. I need one more volunteer for April (it could be you). Thanks to everyone for their hard work and help in 2014. Deborah Macrae.
CHURCH MAGAZINE should now have been delivered, but if you did not get one, please contact Linda Philip.
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 rachel.hughes@waverleycare.org. If you can help man the Church of Scotland stall, please contact the Presbytery’s World Mission rep, Alasdair Murray (a.murray25@btinternet.com).
FOOD FOR FAMILIES
Highland Homeless Trust is arranging this project this Christmas- throughout December and into the first week in January. Hopefully we can manage to provide teams to do cooking w/c 8 December and 5 January. All ingredients are provided together with containers and this year there is a choice of cooking: Vegetable Broth, Mince & Tatties or Spaghetti Bolognese. Contact Christine MacKenzie on christinemac73@hotmail.com for further details.
CAROLS AT THE CROWN
The Inverness Singers (Conductor Margaret Laing, Accompanist Rena Beaton). Wednesday, 3rd December at 7.30 pm in the Crown Church; Guest Artiste Lucy Faulkner, Clarsach. Programmes £6 (Children/Students £3) Ken or Margaret Young (Old High Church Choir), the Music Shop, Church Street, and at the door on the night.  A donation from the concert will be made to the Highland Hospice. Details: Margaret and Ken Young.
INVERNESS FOODSTUFF a new ecumenical charity to address food poverty among the homeless population of Inverness. We are planning to make and serve hot meals twice a week using surplus food from grocery stores and 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. To help, please contact Jill Kent (jillkent@me.com .
CROSSREACH (the social work branch of the Church of Scotland) have a specialist dementia Care Home, Cameron House, at Culduthel Road, Inverness. They are currently recruiting for Relief Care Workers and Relief Housekeeping Assistants. Full training will be given. For more information or an application pack please contact the Service Manager, Pat Birse.

Sunday Bulletin for 23 November 2014

WORSHIP THIS WEEK
Tonight
6.30pm Ding Dong Merrily Old High – family carols for the Inverness Christmas Lights switch-on, featuring Out of the Box puppets
Sunday 30 November
10am Congregational Communion Service at St Stephen’s
(No Service at Old High)
SUNDAY BULLETIN ITEMS should be sent to Jim Munro:
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:
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 tonight at the Old High at 6.30pm, following the lights being switched on at the Town House. Once again we will welcome 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, where we will try to share the real message of Christmas among all the winter festivities.
CHURCH MAGAZINE is available for distribution today. If you are not getting one delivered please contact us.
OLD HIGH GIVING TREE will be in the east corridor on 7 and 14 December. There is a joint service at St Stephen’s on 30 November where the giving tree will also be available. There are about 50 homeless, roughly half men half women. All gifts in the past have been gratefully received and your continued generous support will be much appreciated. Toiletries (alcohol free),hats, gloves, scarves and socks are always welcome. Please wrap each item separately to ensure fair distribution. Contact us with any queries.
ST STEPHEN’S GIVING TREE will be at the door next Sunday, 30 November and 7th December. Please choose a tag from the Tree and return the red bow for future use. Details of the gifts required are on the labels. Please wrap your gifts, attaching the label for identification and return them either on 7 or 14 December for subsequent distribution. Gifts are for Beechwood, Cale House, Manna House, Mackenzie Centre, Hilton Village (Social Work), Porterfield Prisoners’ Children & Barnardo’s Springboard (toiletries for vulnerable youngsters aged 16 to 20 years). Contact us for further information.
MERLEWOOD QUARTET CONCERT AT OLD HIGH The final concert this year will take place on Saturday 29th November from 12 noon till 1pm, when the Merlewood Ensemble will give a recital. This group of local musicians performed for us last year and they have chosen a programme of beautiful music for us again, so we hope this will be well-supported. Donations of £5 are invited to support the Music Therapy Fund at The Orchard. To receive information about music at Old High St Stephen’s: ohssmusic@gmail.com or www.oldhighststephens.com
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. For more details, or to volunteer to help with catering or leading a part of the worship, please contact us.
RENA BEATON wishes to thank everyone who gave so generously to her Retirement Presentation last Sunday and all the support from the church through the years. She says she is not going anywhere and will enjoy the services from the pew. Thank you all.
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 buildings 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 Commuity Choir will have their Christmas Concert in St Stephen’s Church on 17 & 18 December at 7.30pm. Donations will go to Marie Curie and Women’s Aid Inverness. Tickets £8 on sale from 23 November include mulled wine and mincemeat pies! Contact us for details.
HIGHLAND FOODBANK Volunteers to help at supermarket collection, Thursday 27 and Friday 28 November. If  you can spare a couple of hours, please contact Lorna Dempster/ Sandy Cumming or foodbank@blythswood.org) with a preferred day and time. We could also use some people who are stronger to help with loading the donations on to the van.
LUNCH CLUB The Lunch Club will meet at 12.30pm on Thursday 27 November at the Craigmonie Hotel . Please consider joining us for good food and fellowship. Transport is available. Contact us for further information.
FOOD FOR FAMILIES Highland Homeless Trust is arranging this project this Christmas- throughout December and into the first week in January. Hopefully we can manage to provide teams to do cooking w/c 8 December and 5 January. All ingredients are provided together with containers and this year there is a choice of cooking: Vegetable Broth, Mince & Tatties or Spaghetti Bolognese. Further details Christine MacKenzie christinemac73@hotmail.com . This project really makes a difference to families who are struggling at Christmas and is well run by HHT in conjunction with social work, NHS Highland, Councillors, local community groups and churches.
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 rep, Alasdair Murray (a.murray25@btinternet.com).
ANNUAL FAIRTRADE BAZAAR Saturday 29 November 10.30am to 3pm at Inverness Town House. Shop ethically for cards, gifts and food for Christmas. Please support Fairtrade producers.
CAROLS AT THE CROWN with The Inverness Singers (Conductor Margaret Laing, Accompanist Rena Beaton). Wednesday, 3rd December at 7.30 pm in the Crown Church; Guest Artiste Lucy Faulkner, Clarsach. Programmes £6 (Children/Students £3) available from Ken or Margaret Young (Old High Church Choir), the Music Shop, Church Street, and at the door on the night.  A donation from the concert will be made to the Highland Hospice. Contact us for further details.
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, SOUTHSIDE ROAD 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.
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. Register your interest at jillkent@me.com
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: http://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).

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.