Getting Wet: a sermon for Sunday 11 January 2015 (The Baptism of the Lord)

SERMON

Text: Matthew 3.1-17

Getting wet

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

Surely one of the worst things that could possibly happen to someone is to be arrested for a crime you haven’t committed. Bad enough that you might spend years in jail. Worse, however, to be branded a criminal, to be told you are guilty when you know you are not guilty. It’d be terrible to be criminalised by mistake. And who would choose to be treated like a criminal?

By NickGibson3900 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By NickGibson3900 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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Life in its fullness- for everyone! A sermon for Christian Aid Week 2014

Old High St Stephen’s, Inverness
Sunday 11 May 2014: Year A, Christian Aid Sunday

SERMON
Texts: Psalm 23
John 10:1-10

Life in its fullness- for everyone!
In the name of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen.

Someone told me a tale recently of a young girl from Glasgow sent to stay on holiday on some Hebridean island. The island aunt and uncle were strict Sabbatarians, and after church in the morning there was not a lot to do, for she’d been told that she ought to stay in and quietly read an improving book. She certainly wasn’t go out and to play and disturb the island’s Sabbath calm. But she asked her aunt if she could be allowed to at least go out to take a quiet walk to the bottom of the garden. Continue reading

Well pleased! Sermon for 12 Januray 2014 (Baptism of the Lord)

Old High St Stephen’s, Inverness
Sunday 12 January 2014: Year A, Baptism of the Lord

SERMON
Texts: Isaiah 42:1-9
Matthew 3:13-17

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

Back in October there was lots in the news about a baptism. The christening of Prince George made for lots of pictures in the papers and royal gossip. In an age when fewer and fewer families think about having their children baptised, it’s commendable that the royal family still goes ahead with the ceremony. Today, however, we are remembering another baptism- what would call, in a sense, the first ever Christian baptism. It was a very different event than the private service in the Chapel Royal of St James’s Palace, presided over by a bishop and an archbishop, and attended by royalty. Today we are thinking about a ritual carried out by a man in animal skins, baptising a carpenter, in a muddy river in front of a large crowd.

John the BaptistFor me, John the Baptist frames the New Year. We meet him in Advent, preaching repentance and God’s judgement. But he says he’s not the main man. For he speaks of ‘the one who will come after me’ who, he says, ‘will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire’. John makes the one who will come after him sound pretty scary- he says of him: ‘He is much greater than I am. He has his winnowing shovel with him to thresh out all the grain. He will gather his wheat into his barn, but he will burn the chaff in a fire that never goes out’ (Matthew 3.12). Continue reading

Time for a U-Turn! Sermon for the Second Sunday of Advent, 8 December 2013

Old High St Stephen’s, Inverness
Sunday 8 December 2013: Year A, The Second Sunday in Advent

SERMON
Texts: Psalm 72:1-7, 18-19
Matthew 3:1-12

Time for a U-Turn!

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

John the BaptistLet me take you out into the wilderness. Let me take you out of our own small, Palestinian town, along unfamiliar country roads, out beyond the farms and the good grazing. We follow a narrow track downwards- down below sea level into the Jordan Valley and the Dead Sea. Here few people live- a few soldiers on frontier duty, or strange, otherworldly sects such as Essenes of Qumran. But something is stirring in this wilderness, something strange is blooming in this desert. We are not the only ones who are curious enough to be going to see what’s going on. Continue reading

God does care! Sermon for Sunday 25 August at St Stephen’s

Old High St Stephen’s, Inverness
Sunday 25 August 2013: Year C, Proper 16

SERMON
Texts: Jeremiah 1:4-10
Luke 13:10-17

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

Today’s a wonderful day of new beginnings. It’s the beginning of the school year, and it’s always lovely to welcome children to church today. We’ve been celebrating new beginnings with the families of Freya and Amy-Rose to church, as we celebrate their baptism today. And every Sunday is a day of new beginnings for Christians, because for us Sunday is the first day of the week.

According to the old legend of creation in Genesis, the first book of the Bible, God created the world in six days, and rested on the seventh. Continue reading

God at Work: sermon on Acts 9.1-20 John 21.1-19- 28 April 2013

Old High St Stephen’s, Inverness
Sunday 28 April 2013

SERMON
Texts: Acts 9.1-20
John 21.1-19

God at work

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

There’s an American phrase to describe what it’s like when the unexpected happens. They say that something comes at you ‘from left field‘. It’s a baseball term- I think it means that the ball suddenly comes from somewhere you didn’t expect- but if there are any baseball fans who can put me right you can speak to me afterwards. Often we fear the unexpected. We are usually don’t like things come from ‘left field’, because too often the unexpected event is unpleasant- and accident, for example. But the unexpected, even if we are not prepared for it, is not always unpleasant. When the unexpected happens, it can shake us out of our comfort zone and change our life for the better. Continue reading

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

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

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

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

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

Sermon for the Baptism of the Lord. January 12 2013

Old High St Stephen’s, Inverness
Sunday 13 January 2013: Year C, Baptism of Christ

SERMON
Texts: Isaiah 43:1-7
Luke 3:15-22

Baptism… of fire?

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

I well remember the day I graduated from Glasgow Uni. For once, I didn’t go the Uni in jeans and a sweatshirt- I had an academic gown to wear. There was lunch in the University dining room with my parents, and a meaningful chapel service, before we went to the Victorian splendour of the Bute Hall for the graduation ceremony itself. Students somehow become just a wee bit more adult on graduation day. Continue reading