With the Church being closed, there are no sermons to download. A service outline appears on the Next Sunday page, and regular videos by the Minister appear on the Minister's Blog page.
Precis of the sermon on Sunday, 15 April 2018 - Rev. Malcolm Kinnear.
Hebrews 10:35 “Do not throw your confidence away, as it has a great reward.”
We are all accustomed to the experience of being discouraged and downcast, especially when things aren’t going our way. Part of growing up is accepting failure and defeat as part of the things we have to contend with.
The Emmaus road passage is about disciples who were losing their confidence and losing heart, until Jesus came alongside them, and he taught them, spent time with them, and their eyes were opened.
Two disciples walking on the road to Emmaus a village about seven miles distant from Jerusalem, enough time for a good conversation.
If the traditional view is correct and Luke wrote both his gospel and Acts about 60 AD, it is probable that he would have had contact with some of the first eye-witnesses.
Their hearts burned within them, a strange use of the word; but perhaps influenced by medical terminology, as Luke the physician looked for a word.
When we grasp who Jesus is, what he died and realize that he is there for us today as risen Lord, a glow does come into our hearts.
Coming together in Christian fellowship is important.
In the passage from Hebrews the writer addresses Christians who were not taking their responsibilities to the church and to fellow believers seriously enough.
We have a lot to give to one another and a lot to learn from one another; part of the reward of Christian faith is meeting people and enjoying one another.
The writer to the Hebrews exhorts his audience not to cast away their confidence in view of the reward attached. That reward is not the reward for their individual good deeds. It is rather the gift of God, eternal life, his gift to faith. It is the reward for a sincere faith in God, and with the endurance and perseverance that goes with that.
Adversity is not necessarily the overwhelming disaster we fear; it can help us remember the unshakeable things.
When Jesus came to his frightened disciples, it was not to tell them that everything would always be easy. His followers could anticipate troubles. But if we persevere and remain faithful to him there is a joy that one day we will experience in heaven.
It would be nice if the world were a peaceful, harmonious community of nations. It is not so. We are forging new relationships in the wake of Brexit, a painful process. We have the added troubles caused by the Middle East. Britain, France and America have decided that we cannot rest silent while Russia aids and abets the Assad regime in its murderous intentions. Saturday’s targeted air strike by Britain and France and America was a strategic move intended to lay down a marker. These powers sense an obligation to the Syrian people and to intervene to prevent genocide. Donald Trump tweeted, ‘Mission accomplished’. Time will tell.
One of the great tragedies of recent times has been the devastation of an ancient Christian heartland in Syria.
When life is hard we must not give up.
The confidence that we are urged not to throw away is also our boldness in approaching God or in our relationship to God. God hears our prayers.
Even if we feel sad or mad or angry or hurt, we can tell him about it for he is merciful, and he understands.
The boldness we have is also because the Christian message is something sure, strong; Just say he aid, Jesus has risen. Jesus is alive. He has conquered the darkness. He is coming again to reign.
The greatest authentication is when we open our hearts to Jesus and allow his Spirit to touch our lives. Then theory becomes a lived experience, and God’s grace is at work in new and wonderful ways.
We often look back to John Knox as the great figure of the Scottish Reformation. But perhaps George Wishart has an equal even a greater claim to fame. He was the first Scottish reformer to be popular and attract crowds. He had spent in time in England before returning to Scotland in 1543. He preached in Ayrshire, Fife, Angus, East Lothian, and sometimes preaching in the open air when no church was available to him. His preaching was powerful and popular. But life was not simple in these violent days. His bodyguard was none other than John Knox who accompanied him bearing a large sword. Wishart’s success annoyed Cardinal David Beaton, who had Wishart arrested, tried and executed as a heretic.
Wishart exhorted the onlookers to ‘love the Word of God, love your salvation, and suffer patiently with a comfortable heart for the word’s sake, which is your undoubted salvation and everlasting comfort’.
Indeed, is it not the greatest thing we have in life, to know God, to know Jesus, for that is indeed our comfort and strength in difficulties? It is our pledge of glory.
Precis of the sermon on Sunday, 08 April 2018 - Rev. Malcolm Kinnear.
On the second Sunday of Easter there is a tradition that we read the passage where Thomas struggles to believe that Christ had risen.
Some of the disciples were saying, that Jesus is risen, and he has appeared to Simon. They said Jesus was able to speak to them and come to them. Thomas heard this and was not sure. He said, ‘unless I see for myself I will not believe’. But he did believe, once Jesus came again and helped him see that it was true. Thomas was not the sort of person to believe anything just because others did. There is nothing wrong in that attitude, but we should be willing to find out what is real and what isn’t. Then we will discover that Jesus is living, he has risen, that he can change lives, and his word can be trusted.
Thomas initially was cautious about the claims made about Jesus being risen. They had seen something, and the tomb was empty, but that didn’t seem enough.
I wonder if you are the sort of person who is naturally sceptical about claims made about things such as UFOs or the Loch Ness monster. Some people seem to more inclined to the more dramatic, fanciful interpretations.
Thomas was not the sort of person who would repeat a slogan or a saying without understanding it. He needed to feel sure what it said was real. He needed to rule out other possibilities, that the body of Jesus was somewhere, that the disciples had seen Jesus and not someone or something else, and that it was not a dream. Thomas wasn’t necessarily wrong to be so careful.
This was undeniably Jesus, caring, compassionate, but firm. Jesus allowed Thomas to see, even to touch, if that would help himget over his doubt. There is just a hint of criticism, when he added, be not faithless, stop doubting. Believe.
Thomas did not even need to go as far as to stick his hand in the side of his Lord. He had already been convinced. He knew the real Jesus when he met him. No double could replicate the personality of his Lord. He was firmly back in the faith experience, even surpassing the others with renewed spiritual awareness, stating his firm conviction: My Lord and my God’. He was ready now to stake his life on this claim.
Sometimes outspoken scepticism is actually a sign that strong and determined faith is being shaped.
The truth has authority in itself. Jesus rose. In a sense that is all that needs said. Sometimes adding arguments weakens it. But the weight of evidence is worth something for those who have uncertainties; the empty tomb; the turnaround of frightened disciples; that what Jesus was doing before his passion, he was doing after, too.
Thomas needed to overcome his doubts, for Christian faith without the resurrection is emasculated. Christ died for our sins and rose for our justification. We cannot hope for a general resurrection, for he came as the representative of humanity and unless Christ overcame death, we certainly cannot. If in this life only we have hope, we are of all men the most to be pitied. Paul, who wrote this, was amongst other things conscious of the arguments of Graeco-Roman philosophy, such as the teachings of the Epicureans. They said that if you remove the idea of waking up after the sleep of death, you only have this world to find happiness in; your worries are easily resolved. The problem with this is its falsehood. Christ has risen, and he makes himself known. He offers us his peace, a joyful anticipation of our future resurrection, and a sharing in his life. It is the assurance that we are held forever in God’s care.
Precis of the sermon on Sunday, 21 January 2018 - Melville Paton who stood in for the Rev. Malcolm Kinnear because of adverse weather conditions. The opening prayer is available as a download on the Bible Verse page of the web site. Kathy Blanc led the prayer of Thanksgiving and Intercession - also available as a download on the Bible verse page of the web site.
Melville based his talk of the Bible readings from the book of Jonah and Mark , chapter 1:14-21.
Some folk say the book of Jonah is just a story and not a true event but Jesus quotes from Jonah which would make it authentic.
Recapping on the events in the 4 chapters of Jonah -
Chapter 1. v. 1 "Go to Nineveh" God tells Jonah but in v.2 Jonah sets out in the opposite direction. Hsd Jonah lived in Onich and been told to head for Fort William, he could well have gone to Glenmorven pier for a boat travelling south in Loch Linnhe - which can be very rough - but doesn't have a huge fish!
v.6 Storm Jonah is found to be asleep – “Get up and pray to your God for help” says the captain of the ship.
v.10 Jonah realises that he is guilty – running away from God. We need to ask ourselves, have we ever done that?
v.12 “It’s my fault” says Jonah and instructs the crew to throw him overboard.
v.16 It calmed down at once.
Chapter 2 gives a graphic account of Jonah's prayer where Jonah states - "I will sing praises to you: I will offer you a sacrifice and do what I have promised."
Chapter 3 God gave Jonah a second chance. There will be times in life when God will give us a second chance when we stray from his plan for our lives. Another example of this is found in the life of Mark who wrote one of the Gospels. He accompanied Barnabas, his uncle, and Paul on their first missionary journey - but he bailed out when the going got rough. For the second missionary journey, Paul refused to include Mark, so they parted company and Barnabas took Mark to Cyprus. Much later in life, Paul writing to the church in Collossae, records that Mark is with him - so he truly had a second choice, and as a result, he provided us with one of the Gospels.
Jonah's message in Nineveh leads to the whole city showing repentance. God withheld the destruction.
Chapter 4 Jonah took the huff that his prediction of judgement was withheld. Is there a lesson here for us, when God’s plan doesn’t match our plan? How do we react?
Jesus chose ordinary folk to be his disciples - not the priests, scribes and religious leaders of the time. In this passage, Jesus calls 4 fishermen to follow him - Peter,
Andrew, James and John. Peter & John have provided us with 6 of the books in the New Testament.
Peter is someone else who had a second chance after he denied Jesus 3 times. Jesus confronted him and appointed him to feed his sheep. He became the key person in the early Church – preached the first sermons. Thousands of people became Christians and joined the Church.
Final reflections –
1. Is God asking each of us to follow Him & serve Him. Do we say that we are too old? Moses was 80 when he led the Children of Israel out of Egypt.
2. Are there times when we run away from what God wants us to do and go in the opposite direction in life?
3. If we let him down, be prepared to accept the second chance that God will give us to follow him, as in the case of Jonah, Mark and Peter.
Thank you Lord for what we can learn from the story of Jonah.
Thank you Lord that you chose fishermen and ordinary people to be your disciples. May we be willing to take on whatever tasks you ask us to tackle.
Thank you Lord that there are times in life when you give us a second chance. Amen.