New Bennochy Windows

Sermon Years

PDF Documents

PDF (Portable Document Format) is a common format for reading documents on the internet.

If you do not have the PDF file reader installed, please click below to install the Adobe Reader:

Get Adobe Reader

Sermon Notes 2017

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

This page lists the notes from 2017 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
24th December
Elections, Referendums, a census. Votes cast, people to be counted. Those in power say everyone must travel to their own town. Where would we go? What place do we call home? How would we get there? The airports are full. The trains jammed. There are tailbacks on the motorways. People are travelling home for Christmas.
10th December Have you ever noticed how many films there are, where the majority of scenes are shot in darkness. You peer into the TV trying to see what is going on. You say to yourself, why are you going into that forest, cave, or unlit stairwell / corridor at night. Don't you know what is going to happen! Don't be daft, just wait till the morning, then we can all see where you are going, and there will be none of those nasty surprises. I am a bit of a Science Fiction junkie and it is amazing the number of alien planets where it seems to be dark all the time. It of course, all adds to the suspense.
3rd December If you were going to proclaim some good news, where would you go? I suspect it would not be to the top of a high mountain, or at least the Lomond hills! Not in this weather anyway! There to shout into the wind, what you wanted to share with the world. Who would hear you?
26th November I wonder how often we act like the elder brother? He is out in the field and he hears the sound of music. He asks one of the workers, 'what's going on'. The reply comes, 'your brothers back'. You can imagine him coming to a sudden stop, and wondering , what is going on here. He can't believe his ears. How could his father act like this?
19th November We all dream of a world as we would like it to be. I wonder what is your dream for the world? The thing is, dreams are free, and there is always a cost in what we are prepared to do to fulfil our dreams. “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” a quote by Mahatma Gandhi. Change only happens, if we are prepared to act.
12th November We are at the moment working our way through the 100 year anniversaries of the key moments of WW1. At the moment it is the end of the battle of Passchendaele. We like centenaries. It is a nice rounded number, and we use these opportunities to look back and reflect, and hopefully learn from past experiences, so that the same mistakes are not made again. I wish I could be so confident that that is actually the case. Next year, we will remember the centenary of end of the war, 'to end all wars'. That has not happened. We have not learnt from those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.
29th October Have you ever imagined yourself in a situation, where under interrogation, you have a choice, stay silent and face the consequences or give in, to protect yourself or your family. For many people in occupied countries, that was a war time experience. An almost impossible choice to make. Think of the example of Dietrich Bonheoffer. He was executed on June 9, 1945, hanged for his role in the conspiracy to overthrow the regime, just two weeks before soldiers from the United States liberated the concentration camp in which he was held. Bonheoffer staunchly opposed Hitler’s treatment of the Jews. As a Christian pastor he could not sit idly by and watch the murder of so many men and women.
22nd October I don't believe angels have wings, but, I do believe our world is full of angels. To be an angel is to be a messenger, that is what the Greek word 'angelos' means, and I suspect, that we have all entertained angels, without recognising who they are. To be an angel, is to have a nature that is both generous and inclusive. To be an angel is to see no barriers, between themselves and the other, no matter who they are and what kind of lifestyle they live.
10th September This morning we dipped in and out of Luke's gospel. Little 'snippets' of a much larger story. Sometimes we forget that scripture tells us stories, and it these stories that speak to us about God and his relationship with Israel and the life of Jesus and the early church. We tell stories to try and make sense of the world around us. The gospel writers are trying to make sense of who Jesus is, and then share that revelation of God with the ancient world. We now 'listen in' to these same stories, and ask the spirit of God to make them once again new in our lives. For these stories are not history, they are living words, with divine energy beyond the time they were written. The question is, how do we make them real today in the way we live, and share these stories with others.
27th August What image comes to your mind, when you think about the word 'humility'. Give you a few seconds to think about that.

This is part of an online article about humility, from Huffington Post

"In a society where fortune favors the strong, modesty is often seen as a weakness. Climbing to the top of a corporate ladder is our modern version of “survival of the fittest” — and for that reason, meekness is often under-appreciated. But turns out, the secret to success and fulfillment may very well lie in the ability to express humility. Mike Austin, professor of philosophy at Eastern Kentucky University is quoted as saying, “In general, most traditions, religious or philosophical, believe that certain character traits make up a good person — and a lot of those attributes are enhanced by humility," So how do we add a little more humility to our lives?" The articles goes onto list seven traits humble people have mastered that allow them to live accomplished, fulfilled and happy lives. Here is the list, see if it matches with any of your own thoughts.

20th August If you look at the Old Testament you will find some very challenging themes; one is conflict and another is division. Throughout the history of the people of God, they are involved in waging war with all the nations roundabout them. After their Exodus from Egypt, they claimed the Promised Land by invasion, with a hint of genocide, and maintained it in battle. There is a thread of thought that goes like this; obey God, and you will be blessed by victory over your enemies. Obey God, and the nation will prosper. However, the battles were eventually lost and exile became the reality of God's people in both Assyria and in Babylon. So part of their identity was forged in battle and the lands they won, they did so in the name of God. I want to raise this question; was this the way that God wanted them to act, to win the conflict, and in so doing, claim the Promised Land.
13th August In the Historic Dockyard in Chatham you can visit the 'ropery', where they have been making rope since 1618. The rope is still made on the Ropewalk and the claim is, their rope has been used to rig the mightiest vessels ever taken to sea. The rope is made by twisting at least three cords around each other to give it strength. When I looked on line you can buy a least a 12 stranded rope from Chatham docks.
6th August I wonder if you can think of an example, something that has happened to you, where an event, a conversation has really grab's your attention? Something that has made stop what you have been doing and made you think? I mean really think. A long standing view is challenged. A cherished notion that begins to change.
16th July There is something moody and atmospheric about mountains in low cloud and grey skies. If you have done any Munroe bagging I hope you get what I mean. It can be intimidating, especially if you cannot see where you are going. I used to do a bit of Munroe climbing and the ironic thing is, I don't like heights. I have walked in pouring rain, in white outs where you can hardly see your nose, through cloud, in gale force winds where you can hardly stand, but I can't remember walking in thunder and lightning. Imagine the scene, you are approaching the hill and it is back lit with lightning and the thunder is echoing off the hills all around.
25th June I don't about you but there are verses in the bible I struggle with. I am not sure what they mean. There are those I am not even sure that I agree with. As a minister, am I allowed to say that? Some of the words of Paul for example, don't make sense to me in 21st century Scotland, but I need to recognise that he was a man of his time. I just hope I am not alone in that thinking like that!
18th June Think of all the connections that we make in life. We don't chose our family, relationships do not always work out, but connections still run deep. Think of those who are adopted as young children, who still want to seek out their birth parents. We get to choose our partners, soul mates and friends. Those are the connections that often sustain us day by day. Our work colleagues, on retiring, some of those connections are broken but some remain friends for life. There are our literal neighbours. Today, connections not so easily made. There are those we connect with because we share a common interest or we happen to be in the same place at the same time, doing the same thing. There are those who make deep connections within their community and serve it by giving up of their time.
4th June We can all be tired. It is part of life, but there is a huge difference between tiredness, as a result of something we choose to do. Say, a day in the garden, a tour of the shops (would not be my choice!), a long walk or watching the grand children. At the end of the day, we might flop into our chair and say I'm jiggered, but we can still say, we have had a good day.
28th May There had been plans since before the Second World War for a motorway network in the United Kingdom. Lord Montagu formed a company to build a 'motorway like road' from London to Birmingham in 1923; however it was a further 26 years before the Special Roads Act, 1949 was passed, which allowed for the construction of roads limited to specific vehicle classifications, and the 1950s when the country's first motorways were given the government go-ahead.
7th May We have all been there. Our loyalty is challenged and we feel ... Well how do we feel? Years of service to the company is quickly dismissed. You are no longer required. You are not even allowed to go and clear your desk or say farewell to colleagues. You are out the door. What was a central part of your life is gone. In its place, an empty space. A vacuum. When we meet someone for the first time, what do we ask? Their name, where they come from and what they do. You no longer 'do' anything.
23rd April Did you know that the results are out? Have you read them? I am not talking about, Strictly come preaching (that would be a good watch?), or Master chef (how many food programs can there be?), Anne likes the great pottery throw down. I am not talking about referendums or election results. Plenty of them to look forward to. No, I am talking about the results of the 2016 Scottish church census. This statistical exercise is carried out about every 5 years. I know you can make statistics say what you want.
16th April "It's finished!" That is what Jesus said. The work of God is now complete. There is nothing else to be done. In the big picture of God's work of salvation, the words of Jesus are true. If we take an eternal perspective, then the work of God was indeed fulfilled on the cross, in the death of Jesus. The cross has foreshadowed everything, from the creation of the world, the promise of a saviour and into all eternity. In this act, we need to believe that Easter was part of God's plan and not just a random act that took place in Jerusalem in Roman times.
9th April What would get you passionate enough to join others in public protest, celebration or just to stand in solidarity with others. Sometimes the closest we get is sitting in our living rooms, watching the TV and wondering what got these people out onto the streets. What motivated them. What affected their lives so much, that they left the comfort of their homes and took to the streets. There will be times when our minds tell us something is not right, in our community and maybe we should be doing something about it, but it goes no further. We hope others will take up the fight, on our behalf, against the injustice, the exploitation or the violence. But, maybe, just maybe, there will be something, driven by our heart and not just our mind, that says, we cannot leave this to others. We need to occupy the street. We need to stand in solidarity with the crowd, in spite of what others might think. The public square can be a very risky place, especially in other countries where our freedoms cannot be taken for granted.
26th March If you want to be noticed, arrive at a meeting late and make a big show of it. Lots of apologies, eye contact and make your way to the seat that causes most disruption, often right at the front. Sorry, sorry, sorry I am late. You have made your point. Everyone knows you have arrived. Some people just love to be the centre of attention. For them, no slipping in the back, quietly and unnoticed. If you are going to do something, everyone else might as well know all about it.
19th March A good writer of history writes for their audience. I am not suggesting for a moment, they write just what people want to hear. That would be far too predictable and too narrow. It is more than that. The author needs to make connections with their readers, so that their words make some kind of sense. This involves an understanding of what is important to people, their history, where they have come from and their hopes for the future. The story they weave, must interconnect with the stories of their readers. A good story is one you cannot put down. A good story is one where you end up not being able to distinguish between the written word and the story of the reader. They become one. That is what makes any written word come alive.
12th March I want you to imagine that you are in Galilee. You are on a windswept hillside near a little fishing town called Capernaum. You look out. The Sea of Galilee glistens blue below, reflecting a clear midday sky. A small group of disciples circles a young man who appears to be about thirty. He is sitting, as rabbis in this time and culture normally do. You, are part of a huge crowd that extends beyond the inner circle of disciples. You are there because you are more than curious about what he is about to say. There is a sense of excitement and expectation in the air. Is this the day many people have been waiting for. Was he going to say something, to change the world?
5th March If you have been at the receiving end of a difficult question, you will know exactly how the disciples of Jesus might have felt. The question you knew would come up at the job interview or exam, but you still struggled to know what the right answer was. What answer they were they looking for. That question asked by a grandchild, and you do not know what the answer is, and till you can get to "Google", you say, go and ask your mum or dad. You are expected to know, because you are a grown up. As a minster, you watch Pointless or any other quiz program, and you are expected to get the religious questions right. After all, as a grown up, you are the expert.
26th February The bible raises a lot of issues that are easier just to ignore or set aside. Let's not talk about them. One of them is about the afterlife. How would you describe heaven and hell. What is your mental image of the place that exists after death. If I gave you a piece of paper, what would you draw?
5th February Donald Trump is not small, in any way, but he is becoming a bit of a 'Zacchaeus figure'. Zacchaeus was not a well liked man, and for good reason. He was the chief tax collector in Jericho. It was a border town so would have had a customs station. It was wealthy. It was a fertile area of Judea, so tax income would have been extensive.. It seemed to be the practice that as well as collecting the taxes owed, the tax collector could take a sizable cut for himself. It was a bit like buying your patch from the Roman officials or, even Zacchaeus himself, as the chief tax collector. Being told how much you had to collect, and then on top of that, you were 'free' to collect your 'salary'. The Romans weren't concerned, as long as they got their money. It was a system open to abuse. Under Roman occupation, it would have been difficult, to take to the streets to protest, against the action of such tax collectors, as Zacchaeus. It did come to mind that one of Jesus disciples, Matthew, was a tax collector. I wonder how ethical he was?
29th January There is a problem with the familiar. It is too well known. We don't read or listen with the same intensity, as we do when it is something new. The familiar is not so exciting. What can we learn from something we have heard before? Having said that, I wonder if you are you like me, you know you have seen this film loads of times, but you still come across bits you have either forgotten, not noticed or you can't even remember the end of the story! Any good story is multilayered, so maybe it should not comes as a total surprise to us, that even the familiar has much to teach us.
22nd January I wonder if we miss the miracle in the ordinary. Those moments of life where something graps your attention, takes your breath away. No law of nature is broken, but there is something in that life event that we set apart from the every day, and we call it miraculous. I hope you would agree that life itself is a miracle. We live within the laws of nature, yet, think about how our bodies function, evolve and adapt. Is that not miraculous?
8th January What would an 'Isaiah 61' year look like? The prophet gives us a great vision of hope. If you are poor in spirit, what would Good news sound like to you? If you are broken hearted, anxious, worried, what would healing feel like, to you? If you are captive, trapped by your own demons, whatever they might be, what would it feel like to be released from that burden? To walk through an unlocked door. If you are mourning a great loss, what would it be to be comforted. Joy and gladness instead of grief. A song of praise instead of sorrow. What would that song sound like, to you?

Click here to read sermon notes from 2016 ...