Faith in public: sermon for 29 June 2014 communion at St Stephen’s

Old High St Stephen’s, Inverness
Sunday 25 May 2014: Year A, The Fifth Sunday of Easter

SERMON
Texts: Acts 17:16-31
John 14:15-21

Faith in public

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

In the Church of Scotland, all our Sunday services are traditionally described as ‘public worship’. For the death and resurrection of Jesus were public events. But how do we proclaim this in the public arena, how do we take this message into the world? Today’s reading from the book of Acts gives us some clues about how we can do it. It tells a story about St Paul visiting Athens. Luke, the writer of Acts, says that ‘all the citizens of Athens and the foreigners who lived there liked to spend all their time telling and hearing the latest new thing’. It was a world city, a centre of civilisation and philosophy, at the crossroads of east and west, multicultural and multiethnic. Paul must have been fired up by the opportunities it presented to argue out the case for the Christian message with representatives of all the other competing philosophies of the day.

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Anger management for churches: sermon for 16 February 2014

Old High St Stephen’s, Inverness
Sunday 16 February 2013: Year A, Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany
SERMON
Texts: 1 Corinthians 3:1-9a
Matthew 5:21-26
Anger management for churches!

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

When I was a wee boy, television used to close down at night. And in central Scotland, the end of the night on STV was marked with a 5 minute epilogue known as Late Call, in which a clergyman, or some other worthy, churchy person, would offer a wee thought for the evening. I seem to recall that once or twice our own local minister did a week of Late Calls, which was quite exciting, in a small town kind of way!

All-night TV killed off the epilogue. Yet Late Call still survives in a very different form- on the internet. On You Tube, and you can find parodies of Late Call by that wonderful Glasgow comic actor, Rikki Fulton. For many years, Hogmanay TV wasn’t complete without Scotch and Wry and Rikki Fulton’s end-of-year address to the nation as the perpetually depressed Rev I M Jolly in Last Call. 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