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

Christian Aid Week 2014

J2450-CAW-120x90-banner-gifThis week members of our congregation are collecting round the streets of our parish for Christian Aid.

On Saturday, they already raised lots of money at a coffee morning for Christian Aid.

To find out more about Christian Aid week, visit the Christian Aid Week website. You can also make a donation to Christian Aid there.

Here’s the film about Colombia which we watched at St Stephen’s today.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RbmjL1iWjxA]

Here’s a film about work with refugees in South Sudan, mentioned in the sermon on Christian Aid Sunday.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ivJqmdeu9ZQ]

Here the text of the leaflet our collectors are taking with them.

For a growing number of people across the world, the horror of war is a part of daily life.
Right now, fuelled by the devastating violence in both Syria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the numbers of people driven from their homes by war is on the rise. It stands at 42 million people- an appalling statistic and a stain on the conscience of humanity. We can’t turn our backs. We must act now.
Could you provide the gift of hope?
£15 could provide blankets for refugee children to protect them from bitter night-time temperatures.
£40 could provide enough good quality and nutritious food for two refugee children for a month.
£150 could help provide specialist emotional support for a child deeply traumatised by the horror of war that they’ve witnessed or experienced.
The money we raise during Christian Aid week goes to partners helping those displaced by war. They help people regardless of their religion.
Last year, 20,000 churches across the country helped raise £12m for Christian Aid Week.
This week, hundreds of people from Inverness churches are once more collecting for Christian Aid because we know their partners do so much to help those in need.
Thank you for supporting Christian Aid, and helping the victims of war.
Rev Peter W Nimmo, Minister of Old High St Stephen’s Parish Church
www.oldhighststephens.com www.christianaid.org.uk

Homelessness and poverty event: Sunday 26 January

PRESS RELEASE FROM: Willie Morrison on behalf of Old High St Stephen’s Church

22 Jan 2014

For further information please contact the Rev Peter Nimmo on 01463 250802

Sunday kirk supper and drama to highlight local poverty

A city centre congregation is to highlight the plight of homeless in Inverness and the Highlands in a novel way, with a supper and a dramatised reading of the New Testament parable of the Prodigal Son.

This move, by Old High St Stephen’s congregation, in conjunction with Inverness Church of Scotland Presbytery, is its contribution to Poverty and Homelessness Action Week, a major national publicity drive to help the poorest in our society, which starts on Saturday.

The week features many memorable events at both local and national levels – from inspiring events featuring young people taking action for a better world, to hearings where people bravely share their experiences of poverty and homelessness.

The Inverness event, which takes place at Old High St Stephen’s Church Halls, Academy Street, on Sunday evening from 6pm, also features talks by and conversations with Dr Paul Monaghan and Alex Gilchrist of Highland Homeless Trust, who will emphasise the constant and increasing cries locally for help in the current financial climate.

Old High St Stephen’s minister the Rev Peter Nimmo said:

It is a chance for us to eat and meet, to worship and to learn first-hand of the issues, and for us, as followers of Jesus, to reflect on how we can use our gifts in response to this need. This invitation to join us and hear of these problems is being extended to folk of all faiths or none. All who are interested are welcome.

Congregation member and leading organiser Iain Todd, who is also a Church of Scotland reader – a trained and experienced lay preacher – remarked:

The aim of the evening is for all faiths or none to come together to listen, and perhaps learn, from two of the many professionals at work in our city with folk who are really struggling with issues of homelessness, poverty and the changes to the benefits system and who often, in their vulnerability and of necessity, find themselves drawn down the pay day loan route with its legal, but punitive interest rates.
Pay day loans are accepted by all as being awful things – and since the UK Government did away with crisis loans, and the new benefit system is paid a month in arrears, desperate folk who have no money are being sucked into the Wonga and Cash Converters of this world who charge horrendous rates.
I have a wee friend who recently told me she had borrowed £200, which will cost her £300 to repay.”

Mr Todd also spoke of an acquaintance who had told him he didn’t believe there was any real poverty in Inverness , and who insisted: “Define poverty for me. I bet they all have big plasma televisions.”

He said credit unions were not the answer for folk in dire poverty, as they were more akin to saving schemes, and would not respond to pleas for immediate cash.

And he concluded: “All are welcome on Sunday evening to listen, learn and maybe respond.”

Footnote: Inverness Food Bank, set up in 2005 at the Free Church Hall in Madras Street , and supported by many local churches and other organisations, now distributes emergency supplies to thousands of needy Highland families each year, and has the unenviable reputation of being one of the busiest of its kind in Britain .

ENDS

The danger of not noticing: Sermon for Old High Communion, 27 October 2013

Communion Service at the Old High Church, Inverness
Sunday 27 October 2013
SERMON
Text: Luke 16:19-31

The danger of not noticing
In the name of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen.

In most homes, the dining table is an important piece of furniture. The dining table in our kitchen is special, indeed was already special even before it came to us. We were not long in Carntyne, living in a manse for the first time, in a house which was much larger than any we had lived in before, when Alan and Helen came to me. Continue reading

Hope in disastrous times- sermon for 6 October 2013: Year C, Proper 22

Old High St Stephen’s, Inverness
Sunday 6 October 2013: Year C, Proper 22

SERMON
Texts: Lamentations 1:1-6 and 3:19-26
Luke 17:5-10

Hope in disastrous times

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

I have a wonderful memory of the first time I saw the Mediterranean Sea. I opened the blind on a sleeper train window in the south of France, and saw a sea which was a blue colour I thought you could only get in paintings. For most of us, ‘the Med’ is a place of beauty, relaxation, fun. But, like any sea, it is also dangerous. Continue reading

Sought by heaven- sermon for 15 September 2013 (Proper 19)

Old High St Stephen’s, Inverness
Sunday 15 September 2013: Year C, Proper 19
SERMON
Texts: Psalm 14
Luke 15:1-10

Sought by heaven!

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

Català: Gravat del primer terç del s. XVI amb Sant Anselm de Canterbury
Date circa 1520
Source www.npg.org.uk
Author anonymous (1420)
Wikipedia Commons

One of the brainiest Christians of all time was man called Anselm, a Norman who became Archbishop of Canterbury around 1,000 years ago. Anselm was one of the greatest thinkers of the mediaeval world, but most of what I learned about him was not in the theology class, but the philosophy class. Anselm wrote a treatise on the existence of God which began with the first words of our Old Testament reading: ‘Fools say in their heart, there is no God’. And he went on to try to prove, through a very subtle philosophical argument, that the were fools wrong. 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

Rev Martin Johnstone, Priority Areas Secretary of the Kirk, to speak at the Old High Church, Sunday 11 August 2013 7.30pm

Martin-Johnstone Rev Martin Johnstone, Priority Areas Secretary of the Church of Scotland and Chief Executive of Faith in Community Scotland will be our guest speaker at a summer evening service on 11 August 2013 at the Old High Church.

People have said of Martin Johnstone that if he had chosen to work in the private sector he would have become a very rich man. Martin isn’t so sure and reckons that he would more likely have ended up broke. Whatever the truth, he has chosen to use his skills and creativity over the last 20 years to work with faith communities tackling poverty across Scotland. In Bellshill, where he was a Church of Scotland minister for ten years in the 90s, the local congregation developed a community centre catering for over 2,000 visitors a week. Since then, he has coordinated the Church of Scotland’s work in its poorest neighbourhoods across Scotland, a role he combines with being Chief Executive of Faith in Community Scotland – an anti-poverty organisation working with faith communities across the country. Each of these areas of work are now effective businesses which, in turn, have generated many more groups and organisations tackling poverty the length and breadth of Scotland. Martin says of himself: “I don’t know that I am very good at many things. However, the one thing I know I can do is to believe in other people’s dreams and to help them to turn those dreams into reality.”

The Priority Areas Committee of the Church of Scotland is responsible for the support, development and coordination of the Church’s work within its poorest 56 communities. Their mandate includes-

  • Developing new models of church life;
  • Engaging the wider church and society on issues of poverty;
  • Developing new models of community. Faith in Community Scotland is an interfaith anti-poverty organisation giving training, resources, advice and support to faith groups (churches, mosques, gurdwaras, synagogues etc), developing their potential to make a difference in Scotland’s poorest communities.

Old High-1 Old High St Stephen’s Parish Church have been hosting guest speakers at evening services on summer Sunday evenings at the Old High, the oldest church in Inverness, for more than a decade. We host these speakers as a gift to the whole Christian Community of Inverness, fulfilling the Old High’s role as the ‘town church’ of the City of Inverness.

Each event begins with worship at 7.30pm, and includes refreshments and a question and answer session, and ends around 9pm.

Please leave a comment if you would like more information.

Faith- not of human origin? A sermon for Proper 5, 9 June 2013

Widow of NainOld High St Stephen’s, Inverness
Sunday 9 June 2013: Year C, Proper 5

SERMON
Texts: Galatians 1.11-24
Luke 7.11-17

Faith- not of human origin?

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

‘Jesus gave him back to his mother’.

‘His mother’ was a widow. When she had been a little girl, she was her father’s daughter. Her father was the undisputed head of the household. His wife and children were completely reliant on him, for only he could own property, and what happened to whatever money came into the house, was his decision Continue reading