Cherish the light! Sermon for The Kirking of the Council, 10 September 2017

Order of service

Scripture Readings: Philippians 4.4-9

Matthew 5.1-16

Cherish the light

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

Buzz Aldrin on the moon, photographed by Neil Armstrong. Photo credit: NASA, via Wikpedia

Buzz Aldrin on the moon, photographed by Neil Armstrong. Photo credit: NASA, via Wikipedia

On the 20 July 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin approached the surface of the moon in their fragile Lunar Module, the Eagle. It was a fraught descent. Aldrin was calling out computer data to Armstrong as they approached, but the computer played up- and only cool heads meant that the landing was not abandoned. And as he approached the surface, Armstrong spotted that their landing site was strewn with boulders the size of small cars. In his attempt to find a clear site to land, Armstrong almost used up all his fuel reserves, which would have meant that they could not return home, or crashed among the boulders.

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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

Justice or charity?- a sermon for the Kirking of the Council, 13 September 2015

Scripture Readings: Amos 7.7-17
Luke 10.25-37
Sermon

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

In 2012, there was massive media coverage when the Costa Concordia, a luxury cruise ship, ran aground off Italy, leading to the tragic deaths of 32 passengers and crew. But almost unnoticed, the Italian coastguard were also busy elsewhere:

That same day, the first of three boats carrying African refugees across the Mediterranean from Libya towards Malta and Italy was rescued by coastguards, in an incident which attracted no news coverage whatsoever. 72 were saved, including a pregnant woman and 29 children. The second boat was rescued two days later by a Maltese armed patrol vessel, assisted by the US Navy. The 68 who were saved included a mother who had just given birth… The third boat didn’t make it. A distress call warning of engine failure was intercepted by the Maltese maritime authorities the morning after the Concordia disaster. Then no more was heard….until the last week of January, when the first 15 bodies were washed up on Libyan beaches –at least 55 were lost.

I’m quoting there from a leaflet produced by the Church of Scotland Guild on the situation in Malta. Continue reading

Choose life!- Sermon for the Kirking of the Council 2014

The Kirking of the Council is an annual community event when members of the Inverness City Committee of Highland Council, and other community representatives, process to the Old High Church to take part in our Sunday worship.

Old High St Stephen’s, Inverness
Sunday 14 September 2014: Year A, The Kirking of the Council
SERMON

Texts: Deuteronomy 30:15-20
Romans 14:1-12
Matthew 5:1-11,33-37

Choose life!

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

There’s an story about an English vicar who always seemed to give away his politics by his choices of hymns. If the Tories won an election, the first hymn the following Sunday was something like ‘Now thank we all our God’. If Labour won, it would be ‘Dear Lord and Father of mankind, forgive our foolish ways’. On one exceptional occasion, the Liberals won the local council election. So it was with great anticipation that his congregation came to church the following Sunday. The first hymn given out was, ‘The Lord moves in mysterious ways, his wonders to perform’. Continue reading

A politician’s dilemma: sermon for the Kirking of the Council 2013

Old High St Stephen’s, Inverness
Sunday 8 September 2013: The Kirking of the Council

SERMON

Texts: John 18.28-19.16a (NRSV)

A politician’s dilemma

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

You might think that today’s readings are more appropriate for Good Friday than for the Kirking of the Council. But whenever I read or hear the sequence of stories in the Gospels about the last days of Christ’s life, I’m always struck by how public the events are. Today we’ve read of the encounter of Jesus with the most powerful government on earth at the time. Continue reading

Cracked cisterns: sermon for 1 September 2013 (Proper 17)

Old High St Stephen’s, Inverness
Sunday Sunday 1 September 2013: Year C, Proper 17

SERMON
Texts: Jeremiah 2:4-13
Luke 14:1-14

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

Next Sunday we’ll once again hold the Kirking of the Council service at the Old High Church. In some ways it’s a different kind of service than most Sundays, because it involves the local community in a way that most of our worship does not. Continue reading

Sermon for the Kirking of the Council: 9 September 2012

Click here for photos of the 2012 Kirking of the Council

Call to scrap the Kirking:

click here to read report in the Inverness Courier, 18 September 2012

Old High St Stephen’s, Inverness
Sunday 9 September 2012: Year B, The Kirking of the Council

SERMON
Texts: Proverbs 22:1-2, 8-9, 22-23
Mark 7.24-37
The God of the outsiders
In the name of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen.

This week I read an article by Ben Withnall, Head of Media at the Bible Society in England. Responding to press coverage of a legal case in the news, he reminded his readers that there is nothing at all in the Bible about whether or not Christians ought to wear a cross. He comments, ‘That’s not because the Bible has nothing to say in the debate, it’s just that it doesn’t ask the questions in the same way’. Continue reading