The Paradoxes of Christianity: sermon for 18 March 2018

Scripture Reading: John 12:20-33

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

Not long after I arrived to study in the United States, I had an appointment at Princeton University. I had so far only been on the campus of the Theological Seminary, where I was studying, and I soon lost my way on the much larger University campus. So I asked a man for directions. It turned out he was a Lebanese, a researcher in physics, who had just been on holiday in Scotland, and recognised my accent. And so it was I that I got an invitation to dinner with him.

We had a very pleasant evening. The physicist and his wife were not religious people. I didn’t tell him that I had failed Higher Physics twice! One of the things I remember about the evening was that we talked about the origin of the universe. He took a minority view in the scientific community: he adhered to what is called the ‘steady state’ theory of the universe, the theory that the universe had no beginning- it has just always been. He didn’t think there had been a Big Bang, a point at which the universe come into being. He believed this, not for religious or philosophical reasons, but for purely scientific reasons- the data, in his opinion, did not indicate a ‘beginning’.

This week, a quarter of a century later, I’ve been reading obituaries for Professor Stephen Hawking. Among his many accomplishments, Hawking apparently convinced most of his colleagues that the universe did, indeed, have a beginning. Today the consensus in the world of physics is that the universe began with a Big Bang. I wonder if that kind Lebanese physicist who invited me to dinner at Princeton has changed his mind?

Hawking and his fellow physicists and astronomers have given us incredible new understandings of creation. Yet Hawking’s universe can be a very strange place indeed. The universe turns out to be a place where black holes can swallow light, and where time can move at different rates, where particles can be in two places at once, where gravity comes in waves, and where once all matter was created out of nothing. To read A Brief History of Time or other popular books on physics and astronomy is get to know, at least slightly, a universe unimaginably different from our usual experience. Shakespeare’s Hamlet was right when he said to his friend, ‘There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy’.

There is a much paradox in modern science. My dictionary defines a paradox as ‘something which is contrary to received conventional opinion; something which is apparently absurd but is or may be really true; a self-contradictory statement’[1]. Since we never quite get to the bottom of everything, it’s not surprising that paradoxes exist in science, in life, and in faith.

Today’s passage from the Gospel of John is a strange text, and full of paradoxes. John likes opposites, paradoxes, mysteries- light in darkness, the Word made flesh. And from today’s reading I just want to ponder with you two statements of Jesus that seem paradoxical, contradictory, as strange, in their own ways, as anything in modern physics.

The first saying is this:

I am telling you the truth: a grain of wheat remains no more than a single grain unless it is dropped into the ground and dies. If it does die, then it produces many grains.

Now, this might seem a bit of a commonplace observation. Jesus lived in a largely agricultural community. People mostly lived on the land, in a way most don’t any more. Back then, they didn’t have to teach children that milk comes from cows. Everyone knew that if you plant a grain of wheat in the ground, more wheat will sprout eventually, producing many more grains. If course it does. But grains kept in a store will never produce a harvest. The seeds are no good unless you plant them in the cold, dark earth. And so this commonplace observation becomes a saying about how the glory of Christ: that he will bring new life, but only by dying.

Often many more people attend Easter services than attend Good Friday services. But won’t ‘get’ Easter it you don’t ‘do’ Good Friday. There is no resurrection without the cross, no Easter without Good Friday. For most people in our country, Easter is just a celebration of spring- daffodils, bunnies, fluffy chicks and spring lambs. We love to celebrate spring, as our ancestors have done for centuries, because it’s so comforting. After the cold, dark days of winter, spring rolls around, as it has done every year, and we celebrate the longer days, and the new life of garden, farm and field.

We could easily understand this saying about grain and wheat in that way. Indeed, we will late sing a hymn that celebrates Easter just that way: ‘Now the green blade riseth from the buried grain’. But this is no myth of nature’s eternal renewal. The hymn is about a tragic historical event- the death of Jesus of Nazareth:

In the grave they laid him, Love whom men had slain,

thinking that never he would wake again.

Modern science has given us wonderful new knowledge about our universe. It has given us wonderful advances- we could, if organised the world a bit better, ensure that no-one in the world went hungry. And yet the same technology that can power our homes or send up satellite to give us weather forecasts could bring about nuclear holocaust. We can use our knowledge of biology to use nerve agents to kill each other. Knowledge and technology that should enhance our lives can bring terrible suffering and destruction.

It is into this paradoxical world that Christ comes, and speaks of his death and resurrection. One of the central paradoxes of our faith is that new life is to be found at the cross. As the dead grain needs to be buried to bring new life, so with Christ- no Easter without Good Friday, no resurrection without death.

A Christianity that was only an Easter Christianity might seem very attractive. We could try creating churches where everything was always upbeat, where happiness of believers was the main aim. We could banish the cross from our sanctuaries and perhaps just have flowers or Easter chicks. But the world is light and darkness- death is part of living. A merely Easter Christianity won’t do.

But some Christians seem to go to the opposite extreme. They have a Good Friday Christianity whose purpose seems to make people feel guilty and unhappy. They preach the cross- and that’s fine, but not if you only ever preach the cross, without the resurrection. For there is light, as well as darkness, in the world. Faith should be a celebration- there’s nothing wrong with worship being enjoyable.

Bring life and death together, bring Good Friday and Easter together, and you begin to have a rounded, realistic Christian faith. For Christianity is a paradoxical faith. When we celebrate our salvation, we recall it was done through the death of Jesus. And when we mourn, we celebrate that we are in the hands of a loving God who promises new life.

New life only comes when the grain is buried, says Jesus in John’s Gospel. In Mark’s Gospel, he put it differently, predicting to his disciples that he would ‘be put to death, but three days later he will rise to life’- no Easter without Good Friday. The apostle Peter is so shocked by this, he takes Jesus aside and rebukes him. But this is the way Jesus chose- the way that would lead to his own death, which would bring life to the world. He has to walk through the darkness so that we can live in the light.

And in Mark’s Gospel, after Peter tells Jesus off for his seemingly morbid prediction of his own death, he goes out and preaches to his followers about what that might mean for them:

If you want to save your own life, you will lose it; but if you lose your life for me and for the gospel, you will save it.[2]

And that, of course, is virtually the saying we find in today’s reading from John’s Gospel, my second paradoxical saying:

Those who love their own life will lose it; those who hate their own life in this world will keep it for life eternal.

If it was shocking for his disciples to be told that Jesus was going to have to die, it must also have been shocking for his followers to be told that there were not to love their lives, but that they were to hate their lives. What reaction would we get if we put that up on a poster outside a church: ‘Don’t love your life; hate it!’? After all, the other advertising posters around our town usually exhort us to make the most of our lives. We can have happier, fuller, better lives if we use their perfume, drive their cars, buy their fashions. Shouldn’t the church be making people feel good about their lives? Who are we to encourage people to become martyrs?

Yet elsewhere in John’s Gospels, Jesus says, ‘I have come that you might have life- life in all its fullness’[3]. For a full life for a follower of Jesus is, paradoxically, not a life which we live just for ourselves, for our own pleasure. A life is not full, not fulfilled, if it is lived at the fluffy stage of our advertisers. They may seem to offer full lives with their sexy perfume, fast cars and apparently healthy food; but they are liars. Full life, eternal life, is about more.

This time of Lent, as we come closer and closer to Good Friday, and the cross, is a time for us all to reconsider our lives. We often think of Lent as a time to give things up- but, paradoxically, it’s also a time for renewal. For within each of us there are things we have to give up- habits, attitudes, unhealthy ways of living- things we have to put to death in order that new life might sprout. It’s like giving up smoking, and discovering you are fitter and healthier. We need to kill some things off so that we can live better, fuller lives. You might want to thinks about that- what do I need to let die, in order that new life might come? It’s a question for society- what would be better off without, so that life might be better? It’s even a question for the church- what do we need to let die, so that new life might come?

It can be hard to live with paradox. Some people try to do it. To some extent the universe can be explained by science and maths, and yet the night sky and other wonders of nature can move us profoundly. It can be tempting to resolve that paradox by going to the extremes- by reducing it all to dead numbers, or by retreating into a vague, unscientific mumbo jumbo mysticism. In the history of Christianity, people have tried to resolve the mysteries of Christ by going to one extreme or the other. Some people treat Jesus as just a good man- a inspired teacher, but nothing more. Other people seem to imagine Jesus floated around Palestine three inches above the ground, a sort of demigod, not really human at all. John the Gospel writer, however, right at the start of his Gospel- reminds us of the central paradox of our faith- the Word became flesh and lived among us. The eternal Christ died in that we might have life.

We Christians live within the boundaries of those paradoxes. But if our faith is a paradox, well, human life, and even the universe itself, is a paradox which is only held together by the love of the Creator God. The seed has been buried in the ground, apparently dead. But it will rise and bear much fruit: ‘Love is come again, like wheat that springeth green’.

The fruit of Christ’s death are the full lives of those who hear his call to follow in his way. For only by following Christ through the valley of the shadow of death can we bear fruit- live of goodness and love and justice, lives lived for others, lives full of wonder and praise and thanksgiving.

Ascription of Praise

The God of grace who calls you all

to his eternal glory in Christ

restore, establish and strengthen you.

All power belongs to God for ever and ever, Amen.

Based on 1 Peter 5.10-11: c.f. BCO 1994, p584

Biblical references from the Good News Bible, unless otherwise stated

© 2018 Peter W Nimmo

Notes

[1] Chalmers Dictionary 1998

[2] Mark 8.35

[3] John 10.10

OHSS Sunday Bulletin 11 March 2018

WORSHIP THIS WEEK
Sunday 18 March 2018:  Fifth Sunday of Lent
10am Morning Worship at St Stephen’s
11.15am Morning Worship at the Old High
NEWS FROM OUR CONGREGATION
CHRISTIAN AID are holding a celebratory musical evening in Inverness Cathedral on Tuesday 15 March at 7.30m featuring our own St Stephen’s Choir, Inverness Hand Bells Group and other local choirs. All welcome. Donations to
‘Mothers in Malawi’. Details from Alastair Owens af.owens3<at>gmail.com
OLD HIGH MUSIC on Saturday 17 March at 12 noon. Robin is bringing together, for the first time, 2 groups of musicians whom he conducts. Along with guest soloists, the Ness Sinfonia and the Inverness Singers will perform Schubert’s Mass in G Major, with an accompanying programme of Beethoven’s Coriolan Overture, Mozart’s Ave Verum Corpus and a cello arrangement of Peter Maxwell Davies’ Farewell to Stromness. Andrew Stevenson  stevenson.ata<at>btinternet.com
90KG RICE CHALLENGE As part of Fairtrade fortnight (26 February to 11 March), Kilombero Malawian rice will be available for sale over the next few weeks. The proceeds of the sale of 90kg is equivalent to one year of secondary school fees in this sub-Saharan African country. White and Brown rice available £3 per bag. Contact Andy Pyott  or Winnie Stafford  for more details.
HOLY WEEK AT OLD HIGH ST STEPHEN’S Prepare for Easter by coming along to these services during Holy Week. Everyone welcome!
Maundy Thursday: 29 March 7pm at St Stephen’s reflecting on the Last Supper and Jesus’ betrayal, with a celebration of Holy Communion, and music from the St Stephen’s Choir.
Good Friday 30 March 7pm at Old High reflecting on the trials and crucifixion of Jesus, with music from the Old High Choir
RESEARCH STUDY ON CONSERVATION AND DEVELOPMENT OF OLD HIGH CHURCH On the 16th January 2018 the Kirk Session approved the appointment of Alan Marshall, a Chartered Architect with much experience in this field, to lead and prepare a study on the Old High Church. The first step in this study will be for the congregation to meet and share their views with Mr Marshall. All members of Old High St Stephen’s congregation are invited to come along and meet the architect on Saturday 24 March, 10.30am-12.30pm at the Old High Church. Please do come along- it is very important that the congregation is involved in this study from the beginning and throughout. If you are not able to be present please submit your comments in writing to Jim Alexander jbdalex<at>yahoo.com, to be conveyed to Alan Marshall.
SUNDAY EVENING DISCUSSION GROUP is meeting in St Stephen’s vestry every week during Lent. A 6-week study programme has been identified, which provides a Biblical focus on migration, and the particular challenge this issue presents us in Europe in our own time. We hope this will prove a thought-provoking theme for reflection and conversation during this special time in the Christian Year. New hearts and minds joining in would be most welcome. For details about the study material please contact Andrew Stevenson on at stevenson.ata<at>btinternet.com
HIGHLAND FOODBANK During the month of March the Foodbank would be grateful for donations of Tins of corned beef, Tins of mince/stew, Cartons of long life juice, tins of ham (small). Please bring these to Church and leave in the Food boxes provided. Thank you! Bill Guthrie williamguthrie<at>googlemail.com
EMAIL CONTACTS We would like to make more use of email to keep in touch with congregation members and friends. We have email addresses for many people in the congregation, but if we do not have yours, would you please notify our Church Administrator, Pat MacLeod: invernesschurch<at>gmail.com
PRAYERS DURING LENT AT ST STEPHEN’S Every Friday from 1pm -1.30pm starting Friday 16 February. All welcome. Ruth Martin
OLD HIGH HALLS RENTALS Jim Monro has kindly looked after the Old High hall lets, but wishes to step down. If anyone can take this role on, please get in touch with Linda Philip or Christine Mackenzie.
GIFT AID AND FREEWILL OFFERING TREASURER VACANCY Sandy Cumming has decided to stand down as Gift Aid and Freewill Offering Treasurer after several years of service. A successor is needed for this important role which enables OHSS to recover some £18000 per annum from HMRC. As well as record keeping, the role involves preparation and submission of two claims per annum. If you are interested, or know someone who might be willing to serve OHSS in this capacity, then please contact Sandy Cumming.
OHSS MAGAZINE CONTRIBUTIONS Willie Morrison urgently requires articles and photos for the March issue. Please submit whatever you can, as early as possible, by e-mail to willie<at>kenilweb.com. Deadline Friday 16 March.
CROSSREACH Latest newsletter and prayer diary (Feb/May) available at church doors. Rae Swan.
PASTORAL CARE Peter, or the Rev Arthur Sinclair, our Pastoral Assistant, should be informed of anyone ill at home or in hospital.
WORD FOR TODAY is available in the vestibules.
KIRK SESSION meets on Tuesday 20 March at 7.30pm in St Stephen’s hall. Contact Linda Philip.
SUNDAY BULLETIN ITEMS should be sent to the Church Administrator at invernesschurch<at>gmail.com. Deadline is Wednesday at 12 noon. Please keep all items as brief as possible, and include contact details (phone and/or email).
OTHER NEWS
MUSIC MANIA AT MILLBURN ACADEMY Hi! I’m Will Maclean and some of you may remember me from playing trumpet in the St. Stephen’s church band. This summer myself and 5 other S5 students from Millburn Academy are spending 2 weeks in Romania through the Blythswood Trust. We will volunteer for a week at a holiday camp for under-privileged children and for the second week we will be working at a nearby orphanage. On Monday 26 March at 7 pm there will be a concert at Millburn Academy, featuring the school’s wind band, jazz band, string orchestra and pipe band as well as other groups and some solo performers. I am helping to host the evening and will be playing in the wind band too! Tickets cost £5 per adult and £3 per student and can be bought or reserved with my Gran Jean Pumford, who is on Church door duty at St Stephen’s for March, or from my Mum, Alison Maclean. Refreshments/raffle will be on sale at the interval. All the money raised from the evening will help fund our trip. The music evening at Millburn is always a great night out with easy parking so we would love to see you there! Contact Alison MacLean alimaclean18<at>gmail.com
VISITING SERVICE FOR THE NORTH OF SCOTLAND Can you give up one hour a week to befriend an older, isolated or lonely person? This can be an all-win situation, as rewarding for the volunteers as it is enjoyable for the recipients. If you are interested, please write to the Visiting Service, 28 Culloden Road, Balloch, Inverness IV2 7HQ or contact Alan Michael 984 or alan<at>friendship-services.com
HIGHLANDS & ISLANDS YOUTH FOR CHRIST (HIYFC) are hosting a celebration event on Tuesday 20 March 2018 at Dalneigh & Bona Church of Scotland, St Marys Avenue, Inverness at 6:30-9pm. Contact Linda Buchan pdw<at>hiyfc.co.uk
CROSSREACH CHRISTMAS CARDS 2018 Design a Christmas Card and we will print the winning entry and sell it through our 2018 catalogue and website. The Winner will receive a certificate and a supply of their winning design as printed Christmas Cards. Full details at http://www.crossreach.org.uk/christmascard-competition-2018 or alan<at>friendship-services.com
HIGHLANDS & ISLANDS YOUTH FOR CHRIST (HIYFC) are hosting a celebration event on Tuesday 20 March 2018 at Dalneigh & Bona Church of Scotland, St Marys Avenue, Inverness at 6:30-9pm. Contact Linda Buchan at>hiyfc.co.uk
CROSSREACH CHRISTMAS CARDS 2018 Design a Christmas Card and we will print the winning entry and sell it through our 2018 catalogue and website. The Winner will receive a certificate and a supply of their winning design as printed Christmas Cards. Full details at http://www.crossreach.org.uk/christmascard-competition-2018

Sunday Bulletin 4 March 2018

WORSHIP THIS WEEK
Sunday 11 March 2018: Fourth Sunday of Lent
10am Morning Worship at St Stephen’s
11.15am Morning Worship at the Old High
NEWS FROM OUR CONGREGATION
CHRISTIAN AID are holding a celebratory musical evening in Inverness Cathedral on Tuesday 15 March at 7.30m featuring our own St Stephen’s Choir, Inverness Hand Bells Group and other local choirs. All welcome. Donations to ‘Mothers in Malawi’. Details from Alastair Owens af.owens3<at>gmail.com
90KG RICE CHALLENGE As part of Fairtrade fortnight (26 February to 11 March), Kilombero Malawian rice will be available for sale over the next few weeks. The proceeds of the sale of 90kg is equivalent to one year of secondary school fees in this sub-Saharan African country. White and Brown rice available £3 per bag. Contact Andy Pyott or Winnie Stafford for more details.
OUR MINISTER As you will know, Peter has been off for a few weeks. At first it was feared there was an issue again with his heart, but he has now been diagnosed as suffering from a bacterial infection in his lung, something which seems to be quite prevalent this winter. He is now on a course of treatment, and hopes to be able return to work before too long. Peter and Katharina would like to thank members of the congregation for their concern and prayers at this time.
EMAIL CONTACTS We would like to make more use of email to keep in touch with congregation members and friends. We have email addresses for many people in the congregation, but if we do not have yours, would you please notify our Church Administrator, Pat MacLeod: invernesschurch<at>gmail.com
SOUTHSIDE NURSING HOME: There will be a short service, led by Isobel Allan, at Southside Nursing Home immediately after this morning’s service at St Stephen’s. If you are able to assist with the singing, your assistance would be much appreciated. Please speak to Isobel after the service. We still also seek members willing to lead these services on a rota basis; please contact Janet Robertson, janetnfraser<at>btinternet.com.
SUNDAY EVENING DISCUSSION GROUP is meeting in St Stephen’s vestry every week during Lent, from Sunday 18 February. A 6-week study programme has been identified, which provides a Biblical focus on migration, and the particular challenge this issue presents us in Europe in our own time. We hope this will prove a thought-provoking theme for reflection and conversation during this special time in the Christian Year. New hearts and minds joining in would be most welcome. For details about the study material please contact Andrew Stevenson stevenson.ata<at>btinternet.com
HIGHLAND FOODBANK During the month of March the Foodbank would be grateful for donations of Tins of corned beef, Tins of mince/stew, Cartons of long life juice, Tins of ham (small). Please bring these to Church and leave in the Food boxes provided. Thank you! Bill Guthrie williamguthrie<at>googlemail.com
CRAFT EVENING in St Stephen’s Hall 7.30–9pm on Wednesday 7 March. Please come along with your craft or if you wish to learn a craft you will be made very welcome. At present there is knitting, crochet, cross stitch, tapestry and card making but we would welcome any other craft. Refreshments provided. Enquiries from Margaret McAleer.
PRAYERS DURING LENT AT ST STEPHEN’S Every Friday from 1pm -1.30pm starting Friday 16 February. All welcome. Ruth Martin
OLD HIGH MUSIC on Saturday 17 March at 12 noon. Robin is bringing together, for the first time, 2 groups of musicians whom he conducts. Along with guest soloists, the Ness Sinfonia and the Inverness Singers will perform Schubert’s Mass in G Major, with an accompanying programme of Beethoven’s Coriolan Overture, Mozart’s Ave Verum Corpus and a cello arrangement of Peter Maxwell Davies’ Farewell to Stromness. Andrew Stevenson stevenson.ata<at>btinternet.com
OLD HIGH HALLS RENTALS Jim Monro has kindly looked after the Old High hall lets, but wishes to step down from this role. If anyone can take this role on, please get in touch with Linda Philip or Christine Mackenzie.
SPRING/SUMMER OPENING OF THE OLD HIGH CHURCH We are meeting in the church at 2pm on Tuesday 6 March to discuss the programme for 2018. If you can spare a couple of hours a week or on an occasional basis to welcome visitors to the church during the Spring/Summer please come along and find out more. Contact Sheila MacLeod macloshei<at>aol.com
GIFT AID AND FREEWILL OFFERING TREASURER VACANCY Sandy Cumming has decided to stand down as Gift Aid and Freewill Offering Treasurer after several years of service. A successor is needed for this important role which enables OHSS to recover some £18000 per annum from HMRC. As well as record keeping, the role involves preparation and submission of two claims per annum. If you are interested, or know someone who might be willing to serve OHSS in this capacity, then please contact Sandy Cumming.
OHSS MAGAZINE CONTRIBUTIONS Willie Morrison urgently requires articles and photos for the March issue. Please submit whatever you can, as early as possible, by e-mail to willie<at>kenilweb.com. The deadline is Friday 16th March.
CROSSREACH Latest newsletter and prayer diary (Feb/May) available at church doors. Rae Swan.
PASTORAL CARE Peter, or the Rev Arthur Sinclair, our Pastoral Assistant, should be informed of anyone ill at home or in hospital.
WORD FOR TODAY is available in both vestibules.
SUNDAY BULLETIN ITEMS should be sent to the Church Administrator at invernesschurch<at>gmail.com. Deadline is Wednesday at 12 noon. Please keep all items as brief as possible, and include contact details (phone and/or email).
OTHER NEWS
VISITING SERVICE FOR THE NORTH OF SCOTLAND The above registered charity is urgently looking for volunteers. Can you give up one hour a week to befriend an older, isolated or lonely person? This can be an all-win situation, as rewarding for the volunteers as it is enjoyable for the recipients. If you are interested, please write to the Visiting Service, 28 Culloden Road, Balloch, Inverness IV2 7HQ or contact Alan Michael alan<at>friendship-services.com
BLYTHSWOOD Maintenance Officer required to organise and plan the maintenance of grounds and buildings at Blythswood Deephaven Depot, including undertaking front line repair and replacement. 22.5 hours per week over 3 days between Monday and Friday. Closing date 16 March. Application form/job description from Barbara Grace personnel<at>blythswood.org or www.blythswood.org
HIGHLANDS & ISLANDS YOUTH FOR CHRIST (HIYFC) are hosting a celebration event on Tuesday 20 March 2018 at Dalneigh & Bona Church of Scotland, St Marys Avenue, Inverness at 6:30-9pm (a light buffet will be provided). HIYFC exists to see every young person in the Highlands and Islands reached relevantly with the Good News of Jesus, and we are delighted to invite you and others in your congregations to come along and hear about some of our work, and also hear about our plans in moving forward! Contact Linda Buchan pdw<at>hiyfc.co.uk
WORLD COUNCIL VISIT TO PALESTINE AND ISRAEL (4-14 May 2018) led by Rev Grant Barclay, Giffnock, Orchardhill,. A 10-day pilgrimage to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories will take in the cities of Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Jaffa, and Tiberias, introducing you to the local Christians and partners of the Church of Scotland, as well as visiting some of the major Biblical sites. Guided by a local Palestinian Christian, with support from two local Church of Scotland ministers. Register interest/information from roger<at>churchofscotland.org.uk

Sunday Bulletin 25 February 2018

WORSHIP THIS WEEK
Sunday 4 March 2018: Third Sunday of Lent
10am Morning Worship at St Stephen’s
11.15am Morning Worship at the Old High
NEWS FROM OUR CONGREGATION
OUR MINISTER As you will know, Peter has been off for a few weeks. At first it was feared there was an issue again with his heart, but he has now been diagnosed as suffering from a bacterial infection in his lung, something which seems to be quite prevalent this winter. He is now on a course of treatment, and hopes to be able return to work before too long. Peter and Katharina would like to thank members of the congregation for their concern and prayers at this time.
EMAIL CONTACTS We would like to make more use of email to keep in touch with congregation members and friends. We have email addresses for many people in the congregation, but if we do not have yours, would you please notify our Church Administrator, Pat MacLeod: invernesschurch<at>gmail.com
SUNDAY EVENING DISCUSSION GROUP is meeting in St Stephen’s vestry every week during Lent, from Sunday 18 February. A 6-week study programme has been identified, which provides a Biblical focus on migration, and the particular challenge this issue presents us in Europe in our own time. We hope this will prove a thought-provoking theme for reflection and conversation during this special time in the Christian Year. New hearts and minds joining in would be most welcome. For details about the study material please contact Andrew Stevenson  stevenson.ata<at>btinternet.com
WINTER WALK TO CULBIN SANDS today. Meet St Stephen’s Church Car Park 1.15pm for Car sharing. Start walk from Kingsteps car park, Lochloy Road at 2pm. Flat terrain. Cuppa at Brodie Countryfare at 3.45pm. Contact Deborah Macrae for information.
PRAYERS DURING LENT AT ST STEPHEN’S Every Friday from 1pm -1.30pm starting Friday 16 February. All welcome. Ruth Martin
OLD HIGH MUSIC on Saturday 17 March at 12 noon. Robin is bringing together, for the first time, 2 groups of musicians whom he conducts. Along with guest soloists, the Ness Sinfonia and the Inverness Singers will perform Schubert’s Mass in G Major, with an accompanying programme of Beethoven’s Coriolan Overture, Mozart’s Ave Verum Corpus and a cello arrangement of Peter Maxwell Davies’ Farewell to Stromness. Andrew Stevenson stevenson.ata<at>btinternet.com
SOUP & SANDWICH LUNCH including tea/coffee and biscuits in Old High Hall on Saturday 3 March 12 noon to 2pm in aid of Church funds. Tickets £6 to be sold in both Churches from this Sunday. Please buy tickets in advance to ensure we can cope with demand. Thanking you in anticipation for your continued support. Further information from Margaret McAleer Social & Fundraising Action Team
OLD HIGH HALLS CONVENOR Jim Monro has kindly looked after the Old High hall lets, but wishes to step down from this role. If anyone can take this role on, please get in touch with Linda Philip Christine Mackenzie.
SPRING/SUMMER OPENING OF THE OLD HIGH CHURCH We are meeting in the church at 2pm on Tuesday 6 March to discuss the programme for 2018. If you can spare a couple of hours a week or on an occasional basis to welcome visitors to the church during the Spring/Summer please come along and find out more. Contact Sheila MacLeod macloshei<at>aol.com
OHSS MAGAZINE CONTRIBUTIONS Willie Morrison urgently requires articles and photos for the March issue. Please submit whatever you can, as early as possible, to willie<at>kenilweb.com. The deadline is Friday 16th March.
CROSSREACH Latest newsletter and prayer diary (Feb/May) available at church doors. Rae Swan.
PASTORAL CARE Peter, or the Rev Arthur Sinclair, our Pastoral Assistant, should be informed of anyone ill at home or in hospital.
WORD FOR TODAY is available in both vestibules.
SUNDAY BULLETIN ITEMS should be sent to the Church Administrator at invernesschurch<at>gmail.com. Deadline is Wednesday at 12 noon. Please keep all items as brief as possible, and include contact details (phone and/or email).
OTHER NEWS
WORLD DAY OF PRAYER Service in East Church, Academy Street at 10.30 on Friday 2 March. Theme is All God’s creation is very good, and prepared by Christian women of Suriname. Ian McDiarmid’s slide show ‘God’s Creation will be shown. Details Rae Swan raeswan<at>aol.com
VISITING SERVICE FOR THE NORTH OF SCOTLAND The above registered charity is urgently looking for volunteers. Can you give up one hour a week to befriend an older, isolated or lonely person? This can be an all-win situation, as rewarding for the volunteers as it is enjoyable for the recipients. If you are interested, please write to the Visiting Service, 28 Culloden Road, Balloch, Inverness IV2 7HQ or contact Alan Michael alan<at>friendship-services.com