Faith in Conflict: as sermon for the Second Sunday in Lent, 21 February 2015

Texts: Philippians 3:17-4:4

Luke 13:31-35

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

The Pharisees, generally speaking, get a bad name in the New Testament. Again and again, we hear of Jesus in conflict with the Pharisees. Perhaps it was because that in some ways, they were quite alike. Both Jesus and the Pharisees called people to stick to God’s ways in a world dominated by the pagan rulers of Rome. Continue reading

Anyone can fish!- a sermon on Luke 5.1-11

This is the first in a sermon series The Genius of Jesus

Scripture Reading: Luke 5.1-11

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

Genius 1 Encouraging Potential Image TitleLet me take you, in your imagination, to Lake Gennesaret- another name for the Sea of Galilee, the inland lake in the north of Israel which makes up part of the Jordan river valley. We walk down from the fertile farming country of Galilee to the lake, which lies in a depression in the landscape. It is almost 700 feet below sea level (but because the River Jordan runs through it, it’s not salty like the Dead Sea to the south). Because the lake is so low, and surrounded by high mountains, the lake is prone to sudden, violent storms. But there are a number of large towns on the lakeside, for the Lake Galilee is famous for its fishing (salted fish are exported around the Roman Empire). Continue reading

Do not be afraid: a sermon for Transfiguration Sunday, 2 March 2014

Old High St Stephen’s, Inverness
Sunday 2 March 2014: Year A, Transfiguration Sunday

SERMON
Texts: 2 Peter 1:16-21
Matthew 17.1-9

Do not be afraid
In the name of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen.

Today we’ve reached the last Sunday in the season of Epiphany, and the last Sunday before Lent, and the Lectionary always gives us the story of the transfiguration of Jesus on this day. We’ve heard how Jesus took his disciples to the top of a mountain, where they saw him mysteriously change- his face ‘shining like the sun’, his clothes ‘dazzling white’, he seemed to glow with a strange light.

Funnily enough, I was thinking about all this on Thursday night, starting to write this sermon, when I heard about something which made me leave my desk, jump in the car, and take the family up a hill to see some strange lights. Continue reading

A faith for fools- sermon for 2 February 2014

Please see below for more information about Religious Observance in Scottish schools

Old High St Stephen’s, Inverness
Sunday 2 February 2014: Year A, Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany

SERMON
Texts: 1 Corinthians 1:18-31
Matthew 5:1-12

A faith for fools
In the name of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen.

This week I spent two days in Coatbridge, attending a meeting of the General Assembly’s Church and Society Council, of which I’m a member. I joined about a year ago, having been nominated both by the Presbytery of Inverness, and an existing member of the Council. They needed to have someone from the Highlands, and of course their work is to do with Christianity in public life, a topic I’d been looking at in my study leave the previous year in the United States.

We were mostly revising the reports to the General Assembly, which covered a dizzying array of topics. There will a report on the changing face of family life, on sport from a Christian perspective, on welfare reform, on Scotland’s relationship to Europe, and the continuing conflicts in the Middle East. Also reporting as part of Church and Society is the oldest committee of the General Assembly. The Education Committee was set up back in the nineteenth century, to keep an eye on developments in our state schools. And just before we met this week, education policy was suddenly all over the media. Continue reading

All in good time…? A sermon for the Second Sunday after the Epiphany, 20 January 2012

Old High St Stephen’s, Inverness
Sunday 20 January 2013: Year C, Second Sunday after the Epiphany

SERMON

Text: John 2:1-11 (Revised English Bible)- see end of the sermon

All in good time…?

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

We preachers are worriers. We worry about what we’re going to say to you every Sunday. It’s our job to worry- on your behalf- about the Bible readings. All this week, I’ve especially been worrying about verse 4 and verse 5 of today’s Gospel reading. Or rather, not so much those verses, as what is in between them. Because there is nothing in between them. And that’s what’s been worrying me. Because you get verse 4, and right after it comes verse 5, with nothing in between. And I think there should be something in between, and that’s what’s been worrying me. Continue reading

Church of the King!- A sermon for Christ the King Sunday, 25 November 2012

Old High St Stephen’s, Inverness
Sunday 25 November 2012: Year B, Christ the King
SERMON
Texts: Hebrews 10.19-25
John 18.28-38a

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

In last Sunday’s Gospel reading, we heard about Jesus predicting the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. Recall that as they left the Temple mount, Jesus’ disciples expressed their admiration for what was, truly, one of the wonders of the world in those days. ‘Look, Teacher! What wonderful stones and buildings!’ they exclaim; but Jesus answers: ‘You see these great buildings? Not a single stone here will be left in its place; every one of them will be thrown down.’ And about 40 years later, it came to pass, as the Temple and the city were destroyed by the Romans after a terrible siege. Continue reading

Healing for all?: sermon for 27 September 2012

Old High St Stephen’s, Inverness
Sunday 7 October 2012
based on 27 September 2009- Proper 21

SERMON
Texts: James 5:13-20
Mark 9:38-41

Healing for all?
In the name of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen.

A few weeks ago, when there was some controversy about the Kirking of the Council, many of those who wrote to our local papers about it- and many who spoke to me- said that one of the great things about the Kirking, as it has now developed, was an important event in the life of our community. For we need events which strengthen the ties among us, which foster a sense of community. For human beings are social animals- we need to feel we belong somewhere. We need to belong to groups, communities, tribes, teams. Continue reading