Sermon – “Salt and light”

I wrote this sermon to be read out to the congregation by the Session Clerk in the traditional service, and the Sunday School Superintendent in the All Age Gathering. I couldn’t be there because I had a sore throat. What an interesting experience to write a sermon for other people to deliver!

Sunday 9th February 2014, Fifth Sunday after Epiphany

Salt and light

As I’m writing this sermon to be read to you, I’m reminded of the way things used to work in the Church of Scotland a few centuries ago. In the 16th and 17th centuries there were few ministers available, so each minister had several churches under their supervision. This is also why many churches still have quarterly communions instead of monthly or weekly ones. The minister used to write a very lengthy sermon, and then send it on to the readers in each congregation. They stood in the pulpit and read the sermon, unless it was their congregation’s turn to have the minister in their pulpit. Some suggest that we may be going back to that model soon, albeit without the ‘lengthy’ part…

Last week we began a journey through the sermon on the mount. The passage known as ‘the beatitudes’ deserves a whole series of sermons, as each beatitude is so rich in meaning and implications for our daily lives. We should take time to reflect on each of them.

We were invited last week to look at happiness from God’s perspective, which is always surprising and counter-cultural. How can those who are persecuted be happy? How can one be happy when they are insulted, persecuted and slandered because they follow Jesus? The challenge was to look in our own lives at one issue or situation that we would rather do without, and reflect on the opportunity it could provide for us to deepen our faith, and to learn to live more fully in God’s grace. Continue reading

Riots and youths

While watching this whole riots mess in London and other places in England, it’s struck me how often ‘youths’ are mentioned. The UK already had a problem with young people, which I am seriously afraid has become even worse now. When I lived in the East End of Glasgow I could see that wherever young people got together in the local park, a police patrol was sure to turn up and search them. Now, that could be seen as preventive action designed to keep us safe, but has anyone considered what it means to be young and constantly under police supervision? I know the feeling as I grew up under communism, and regarded the police as abusers. That is a serious problem which is getting worse in the UK.

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Sermon – Not to condemn

John 3:1-17

Sermon preached in Bishopton Parish Church, on 20th March 2011, Second Sunday in Lent.

There is a special time in everyone’s life when they come face to face with the vastness of the ocean or the sea for the first time. I remember many holidays we took at the Black Sea as a child, and I distinctly remember every time the train approached the sea shore and I could just spot the shore over the top of some buildings. The excitement of that first view of the water extending all the way to the horizon never really died down for me. I still feel that excitement today, whenever I go to the sea side. This is true perhaps because the sea has a special capacity to bring eternity within our reach.

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Sermon – From the past to the future

Matthew 5:21-37

Sermon preached in Bishopton Parish Church, on 13th February 2011, Sixth Sunday after Epiphany.

Every time I sit and watch a new film I am impressed by the power of stories to capture our attention and draw us in. What I particularly like about films is their capacity to stimulate imagination and open up possibilities which we may have never considered before. Perhaps because of that, one my favourite genre is science fiction. I always loved science fiction films, ever since I was a boy. I grew up with Star Wars and Flight of the navigator. I also remember a trilogy called Back to the future.

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