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

Patience and welcome: a sermon for 3 March 2013 (Lent 3)

Old High St Stephen’s, Inverness
Sunday 3 March 2013: Year C, The Third Sunday in Lent

SERMON
Texts: Isaiah 55:1-9
Luke 13.1-9

Patience and welcome

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

‘What have I done to deserve this?’- words I’m sure we have all cried at some point in our lives. Yet most people when they say that today don’t really mean it. Most people don’t believe that there is a God who will punish us for doing wrong. But as people are more aware today of other religions, the idea is creeping back. You hear people say, ‘Don’t do that, that’s bad karma’, which is a word folks have picked up from Buddhism and which they probably don’t really understand. It’s a kind of half belief in a malevolent fate which brings bad things in it’s wake for those who do wrong. But few are really quaking in terror at the thought that there might be divine punishment for being bad.

But alongside ‘What have I done to deserve this?’ there is another question which we like to ask, one which perhaps we’ve been asking a lot recently. Not, What have I done to deserve this?’ but ‘What has he done to deserve this?’. We all seem to find the news more entertaining when we people are caught out, when people apparently get what we think they deserve. Whether it’s a Catholic Cardinal or an hitherto obscure Liberal Democrat politician, or an Olympic athlete who’d previously been a national hero- whoever it is, when we hear about someone in public life getting their comeuppance, many of us are hooked. Continue reading