New Bennochy Windows

Sermon Notes 2012

Rev. Robin McAlpine has written a series of sermon notes which are linked to worship services and other special occasions.

This page lists the notes from 2012 with notes from other years available via the links on the right. To read any of the notes in full simply click on the dates below:

Service Sermon Introduction
9th December You wait in for that parcel. You know it is coming, sometime between the hours of 8 am and 5 pm. It is already afternoon, you keep looking at you watch and out the window, but it has not yet arrived. You begin to wonder if you have the wrong day. So you decide to go out. You miss the parcel. The delivery note is behind the door on your return. You knew it was coming, yet you still went out.
11th November The horrors of war are all around us. The closest to home are the stories and images of British soldiers killed in Afghanistan; there is the Arab Spring that has spawned violence most noticeably in Syria. A prison guard is killed by dissidents in Northern Ireland and the hidden wars around the world that do not get the oxygen of media attention.
4th November What do we do when we come across familiar words? Do we skim read them / gloss over them, say to ourselves, ‘I have been here before... I know this’; do we assume that because we know them so well, we wonder, can there be anything new for us to learn in these words? With familiar words we know the end of the story, so we don’t need to read them to find out what happened. We don’t need to delve into them to source their meaning, we think we have worked that out before... or have we? Do we need to revisit the familiar once again, because our lives have changed? Can old familiar words of God speak afresh into our new situations? Having said all that, have you ever watched a film you know you have seen loads of times but still can’t remember the end?
28th October The story of the Passover meal in Mathew’s gospel begins with a very different response. I don’t understand Judas. He had lived within the community of Jesus disciples for about 3 years. He had heard firsthand the word of Jesus, had witnessed the miracles, and yet was willing to betray him. What will you give me he asked, and the deed was sealed with 30 silver coins, the average Old Testament compensation for the death of a slave. Jesus is sold cheaply. Was there something in his character that just wanted the money? Did he hold a grudge? Who knows?
21st October Let’s imagine you have won the lottery and let’s make it a nice round number, you have won £20 million! What would you do with the money? What would you keep and why, and what would you give away and to who? I suspect it is easier to dream about what we don’t have, there is no pressure on us, because we don’t actually have the money to make such decisions. If we actually had £20 million, the whole dynamic changes, and I think the pressure to hold onto more of the money would increase.
14th October Stewardship is all about our response to what God has offered to us; in his creation, we are part of his giving of life; through his son, the Easter event was all about the giving of his love and by his Spirit, he breathes into us, the giving of new life. It is within this broad understanding of stewardship that we ask people to review their giving to the work of the church.
16th September We have our wee secrets don’t we, those things that only we know and for a variety of reasons, we will never tell another living soul, those ‘hidden’ details of our life that we will take to the grave. Some of our secrets we live with day by day, a constant reminder of something or someone in the past; others have long been forgotten, even to ourselves, in the mists of time. Not everything in life is exposed to the knowledge of others. It is part of being human.
9th September Are you a worrier? Are you the kind of person that worries, if you have nothing to worry about? To worry is part of the human make up. On the news recently it was reported by Save the Children that 1:4 parents went without food so as to feed their children. Think of the worry for such families in Britain living below the poverty line. It is all about responsibility; the responsibility of a wealthy nation to look after its vulnerable citizens, particularity children, and the responsibility of people themselves to discern what is priority and what limited resources should be spent on.
2nd September My children never used to eat curries, they do now. Most children are not that keen on green vegetables, no matter how much we might say they are good for them. . As we get older, our tastes change. Today we feast on foods from around the world. You will have your favourites. Would we find you in the Nepalese restaurant or buying, not just any meal, but an M&S meal? Do you go for the exotic, or are you the “traditional” meat and two veg?
26th August “When the going gets tough, the tough get going”. I wonder if that is us? Revelling in the challenge, or do we simply want the quiet life? Are we up for change, or is the ‘status quo’ what we seek in life? When we don’t understand, or when others decide it is not for them, which way do we go? Do we stay the course to the end, or do we change direction and drift away? Do we feel the pressure of the crowd or can we stand alone?
19th August If you had just won the Euro millions jackpot I wonder what would you spend your money on? Just think about that for a moment, enough money to buy whatever you wanted for the rest of your life! Since no one here has actually won it, not that I know of anyway, our answers will always have a huge element of ‘non reality’ about them, for I am sure if we had actually won the money, our answers would be different!
12th August I wonder what you do consider a miracle to really be; Britain’s gold medal tally at London 2012, a peaceful end to the conflict in Syria, birth of a child or that unexplained healing. I suppose for each of us, the definition or understanding of miracle will be different.
5th August You were there. You witnessed the miraculous. Like watching a well known magician, you are asking yourself, ‘How did he do that?’ There were thousands there, tired and hungry; miles from nowhere and he took five loaves and two fish and fed everyone. Not only that, there were twelve baskets filled with left overs.
1st July In the world of modern day science and high tech medicine, what is a miracle? What are possible today, are the miracles of the past, incomprehensible and only understood as the actions of God. What we dream of today will be common place sometime in the future, maybe a world without illness or disease. Can we imagine that? So where does modern medicine end and God begin or in all acts of healing is there the hand of God?
24th June I can think of some of my experiences of being in rough water. When I did white water kayaking on the river Tay, it was by choice. In the firth of Clyde, on friend’s boats, I remember the boat leaning over on a good breeze and the time when coming into Rhu marina, in the spring, with hail stones hitting the deck. Or that time on a cruise with my parents when we ran into a Mediterranean storm... or between Orkney and Shetland... or a holiday to Islay with the boat pitching all over the place. Fortunately, I don’t suffer from sea sickness.
17th June Have you noticed recently just how quickly the weeds are growing? I hoed an area of the garden at the manse and very next morning I am convinced the weeds had started growing again! They seem to love this slightly damp, almost humid, atmosphere.
10th June There are passages in scripture where you really wonder what is going on, what do they mean? Why has the writer included them? For me, this part of Mark 3, read earlier, is one such passage. It seems all mixed up and not even particularly well written. It jumps around, from the relationship between Jesus and his family, a controversy with religious leaders and a couple of really strange parables.
27th May Man. United v Man City, end of the season and it all comes down to two matches, played at the same time. Ideally to be watched on split screens or as they did on the highlights program, jump in time sequence from one match to the other. This morning, Pentecost Sunday, we jump from a valley in the desert to the city of Jerusalem. What is at stake is the Spirit of God.
13th May We don’t always like our families, but we love them. Love is about what holds us together, even when it is falling apart, it is about expressions of love even in the midst of anger and it is about being close even when the distance is great.
6th May Jesus was the master of the image. He took the everyday and ordinary and turned them into powerful images of God that would stick in people’s mind. But because we have seen the image and heard the story before, we lose their initial impact. Jesus didn’t need to make a DVD or write a book or even use social networking sites or twitter, but maybe he would have!
29th April Jesus was the master of the image. He took the everyday and ordinary and turned them into powerful images of God that would stick in people’s mind. But because we have seen the image and heard the story before, we lose their initial impact. Jesus didn’t need to make a DVD or write a book or even use social networking sites or twitter, but maybe he would have!
22nd April We need the visionaries, those who look deep into the future and proclaim possible ways ahead. There is the inventor who creates the future, where new technologies become integral to how we live our lives. Think of a world without any mobile phones!
15th April If you thought you were a fugitive. What would you do? The chances are you would go on the run or go into hiding. Probably with sympathisers and certainly in a place where you hope the authorities would not find you.
Easter Talk Take flower from Cross. It starts off hidden as a bulb in the ground and at the beginning of its cycle of growth it starts to show above ground. It seems to have come back to life, yet in truth it has never died. It is in full bloom, has been picked and will soon die, yet the bulb remains in the ground and the cycle, next year, will begin again.
Holy Week You have come to share a meal with friends and your feet are dusty from travelling. The host approaches with a bowl of water. A bit late you think, the meal is already over. Now come to think of it, what were those words he said, about broken bread and spilt wine?
1st April Imagine scene...Raith Rovers win something... if you find that hard... famous person is coming to town and the people are waiting in expectation... or Olympic torch is being carried through the streets and people gather to celebrate, out of curiosity or just to say I was there! .If the famous person was Jesus, what would be the response of the people?
18th March You might be one of the few people who love snakes! I have never held a snake so I am not sure how I would react! I suppose it depends on what kind of snake it was ...
11th March We have all been angry. It is part of being human. It is our response to injustice. It comes from deep within us. Can we really live as human beings if we do not respond to those things that just should not be happening?
4th March Crosses are heavy. People do not wish to carry them. We want the easy life! In Roman times it meant carrying a cross beam to your execution passed jeering crowds. We don’t want any part of that!
26th February No one knows for certain when the book of Genesis was written, but let’s assume, as some scholars have suggested, about 2500 years ago, the time of the Exile or just after. At that time, what would have been their understanding of the size of the world, probably very limited, to only the area that people had actually travelled ...
19th February The truly amazing does not happen very often or it would cease to be amazing. Those special moments of life which are etched indelibly into our memories. Easily recalled, shared and often acting as a source of inspiration in the darker moments of life ...
5th February You will have seen these kinds of pictures / scenes of Scottish mountains, viewed as a high flying bird would see it, sometimes used as a backcloth for programs on Scottish history or used in tourism adverts.
29th January Imagine the scene, the sermon has just finished and the preacher is suddenly interrupted by a man who enters the building and screams a question towards the preacher. People turn and whisper, who is this man, what does he want, how will the preacher answer?
22nd January It is not every day that you are swallowed by a fish. Jonah is one of those Old Testament stories that is a good read and I wonder what Steven Spielberg would do with it?
1st January Midnight strikes, a fleeting cusp of time, a point that is neither ‘last year’ nor ‘next year’, a moment from which to look forward and to look back. Like Janus, the two-faced god, able to look back and forward at the same time. Traditionally this is a moment for reflection, what has been and what is to come, those resolutions, most never kept!

Click here to read sermon notes from 2011 ...