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Sermon Notes 2018

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

This page lists the notes from 2018 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
23rd December I was thinking, what would the modern nativity story look like, if the star stopped above Kirkcaldy? Would there be people taking 'selfies' with the child? The Magi rolling up on their Segways! But what about the other side of society? Who are the people who face closed doors today, where for them, the 'inns are always full'. The people who have nowhere to go or nowhere to turn? Their home is the High street. We have seen them there, or temporary B&Bs or sofa surfing.
16th December It's funny sometimes how paths cross. In unexpected circumstances people can become close friends. We lose contact with people, then almost out of blue, something happens, and they once again become part of our lives. There is that affinity with people going through the same experience as you. From a few days in a hospital ward to those years bringing up your children at the same time. That sense, we are all in this together. And for many families the idea of only meeting at funerals, baptisms and weddings is reality.
9th December People say, good preparation is the secret to success. Well, at least it gives you a greater chance. Here's the thing, if it is such good advice, why should it be kept a secret?
25th November I think we can forgive Pilate. He was a fish out of water. After all, what did he really know about the Jews and what they were asking him to do. The reality is this, the religious leaders wanted the death penalty on Jesus, a verdict only Rome could give. As Rome's representative, it fell on his shoulders to make that decision. So enter our story, Pilate the Governor of Judea; his job, to determine what to do with Jesus.
18th November I think at some point in our lives, we have all received the unexpected call. Out of the blue, the phone rings, your mobile pings and the text appears, or there is that knock on the door, and in that instant, our world is turned upside down. Words failing to express how we feel. We are no longer in control of what is happening round about us. In the face of bad news, our emotions can shut down or they take over. Faced with demanding situations where a quick response is required, there are times when we just don't know what's the right thing to do. The mind goes blank.
21st October How many of you manage property? You might think that is a strange question to begin today's sermon but, the events of Luke chapter 16, focuses on a man who manages property. He does not own the property himself, but he manages it on behalf of someone else. So back to the question. How many of us manage property? The answer is, all of us. We are all called to be good stewards of the very property we are sitting in this morning.
14th October They say that good leaders ask good questions, rather than always trying to give answers. I think that is true. What lies behind the question is more important than the answer. So, if you are asked a good question, how do you respond? Let's take the example of the politician. Most politicians, will give the answer they want their audience to hear, no matter whether it answers the question or not. The question becomes irrelevant, and they will persist in giving 'their' answer, much to the annoyance of the person doing the interview. Another tactic is to respond with another question. "Well, what do you think about that?". Its good for covering up our ignorance, though sometimes better just to admit that, or, maybe, you are trying to draw the answer out of the person who is asking the question. It's true that very often the answer lie within us.
30th September One of the things about navigating through the ups and downs of life is we create for ourselves, what are called, coping strategies. If we begin to forget things, we start to write ourselves little notes or strategically place sticky post its. We have all gone up the stairs, got to the top and you have forgotten why we climbed the stairs in the first place. Just me? On returning to the bottom of the stair, you remember why! If you play golf, and you have a tendency to hit the ball off to the right, you end up aiming a bit left to compensate. That's OK, till you hit a hit a shot that goes, straight. We try to think ahead to mitigate against the possibility of what might go wrong.
2nd September The reward was conditional on just one thing. If they wanted what was promised to them by God, all they had to do was obey. It had always been so. From the words of Moses to the people who wandered the desert; there is a promised land, it is waiting for you. All you have to do, is obey God and keep his laws. In the history of the nation of Israel, law and land were inextricably linked together.
26th August Throughout history, people of power have built some impressive buildings. Pyramids, temples, palaces, castles and grand stately homes. Often built on prominent places, they are there for other people to see. They shouted, 'WOW'. Look at me! They are displays of status, prestige, sophistication, and in most cases of course, of power. Can you name some buildings built to impress? Coliseum in Rome, Taj Mahal in India - the tomb of an Indian emperors favourite wife, Palace of Versailles - home of the Kings of France. The Stewart kings of Scotland built their own palaces at Linlithgow and Falkland, to show they were sophisticated European kings, into art, music and architecture. The list goes on. What about the 'wee pad' in Pennsylvania Ave? Did you know that the Palace of the Parliament in Bucharest, Romania, has 1100 rooms. Started by Ceausescu as a symbol of his status and to show to the world the power of communist Romania. In reality it was all about him and his rule, rather than the needs of the country. These places, are more than just buildings.
19th August History has a way of rewriting itself. We are told, it is often written from the perspective of the victors. Power more important than fact. Some people become more respected in death, than they ever were if in life. As people look back, history becomes retrospective. And we hear a lot today about 'fake news', so as history unfolds, the big question is, what is truth? What's actually happened and what is happening?
12th August Have you wondered just how many stories there are in the bible are about crossing deserts. It's a common theme. And some, like the one that was read earlier, about Elijah, is actually a rerun, of an even more ancient story. It is a bit like a sequel. The starting place is different, but the destination of Elijah's journey, is hugely symbolic.
5th August How long can someone go without eating? Ask the person next to you. One internet article says this, "The length of time someone can live without eating depends on their weight (or amount of body fat), health, and, many believe, attitude. Medical experts usually say the average person can live for 4 to 6 weeks without food. The amount of time someone can go without water is much shorter, roughly a week (or less)."
8th July A taboo is defined as "proscribed by society as improper or unacceptable". We all have got our taboos. Those things, for different reasons, we will not do. That line in the sand we will not cross. We sometimes impose our taboos on others; our families, in the work place and we might even have congregational taboos, that are part and parcel of our church culture, that's 'the way we do things around here'.
1st July If there was one thing that made Jesus stand out to the local population of Galilee, would be his miracles. Nothing like performing a few miracles to build a reputation and a following. After all, he was one of their own. The lad's done well. Did someone not once say, 'is that not the son of Mary and Joseph? You know, the carpenter, from Nazareth?'
24th June What do you know about mustard seeds? Well we know they are very small, about 1 to 2 millimetres (0.039 to 0.079 in) in diameter. A very significant fact in the famous parable of Jesus. There are three kinds of mustard seeds; black, brown and white. Jesus was probably talking about white mustard seeds. The top mustard seed producer today is Pakistan, and in Shakespeare's play Macbeth, they are one of the ingredients in the witches brew, called 'eye of newt'.
17th June On the wall is a sheet of paper. It is white with a black dot on it. Nothing else. When people are asked, 'what do you see?', most will answer, 'I see a black dot', ignoring all the white space round about it. Why do I share that? Most people are uncomfortable with what used to be described as "blue sky thinking". Let's think 'out of the box' and write our new shiny ideas on a blank piece of paper. If we are honest with ourselves, we actually prefer the black dot. Something to focus on. A place to begin. A hook, to hang our thoughts on.
3rd June It's not what we say. It's what we do that counts. How many times have we heard that? I think we have all been in the situation where we have spoken in support of something, sometimes with great passion, and then gone home and not done anything about it. At that moment, it was important to us, but somehow it was never translated into action. I must speak to my MP/ MSP/ councillor about that. That's not right, we need to do something about that, but the email / letter was never sent and the visit to the MPs surgery was never made. Over time, the passion fades. There are now new priorities. New issues that concern us and new promises are made. We need to do something about that. Maybe this time, we will get round to it!
13th May The passage in John 17 is one that speaks of an intimate relationship. The prayer of Jesus is a prayer for protection for his friends. The dilemma for Jesus is this, he knows, that in a very short while, he will be arrested and executed. He will no longer be in the world, but his disciples will be. Without him, how will they cope? As their rabbi, there is here this natural instinct, desire, to protect his followers. Jesus is going to have to let them go. To loosen his grasp and let them walk on their own two feet.
22nd April It is a deliberate ploy. There is no coincidence in the fact that the writer of Johns gospel, no less than seven times, puts into the mouth of Jesus, the phrase, "I am". The point is not to create a nice series of statements. These two words are the crux of what John wants to convey to his readers. In no uncertain terms, he is clearly stating who he believes Jesus to be.
15th April This is Luke's version of John's 'doubting Thomas' story, that we looked at last Sunday. The context is important. We find the disciples deep in conversation. They are trying to make sense of what has just happened. To recap. This is the recorded sequence of events according to Luke. Early in the morning, some women - Mary Magdalene, Joanna and Mary the mother of James, discover the tomb is empty. They then go to tell this news to the apostles, who think they are talking nonsense. 'Away with you. Don't be daft!' But Peter, the man who first recognised Jesus as the Messiah, Peter the walker on water and, the man who denied Jesus 3 times, he runs to the tomb to see for himself. Like Thomas, again from last week, he does not want a second hand faith. He wants to find out for himself, and Luke says, he is amazed, at what has happened.
8th April The painting is the The Incredulity of St Thomas (1601-2), by Caravaggio. I was wondering, what is the painter trying to communicate? After all, every picture tells a story. It says to me, Thomas needs to investigate Christ’s wounds, literally, to see if they are real. Notice, the finger of Thomas is right inside the body of Christ. I'm not sure we would all want to go there! But we have a natural instinct to find out, for ourselves, what is true. This picture says to me, Thomas does not want a second hand faith.
1st April We all like a good story. Even if it is a story where we know the ending. There are films, that I have watched over and over again, but I will still watch them. There are bits I will have missed, but I will still watch it to the end, even though I know what happens. I do this because, for me, it is a good story. I want you to tell the person next to you, your favourite film and one sentence why you like it so much. PAUSE. I suspect, even though you have seen it many times. Next time it is on the TV, you might still watch it.
18th March "She's got a big heart'. Kind, caring. Treats people in the way they should be treated. 'There's a man after my own heart.' I can agree with him. He is doing what I would do. The heart has always been seen as something special. In the ancient Near East it was believed that the heart was the seat, it was the very centre of emotion, will and it was where decisions were made. Aristotle identified the heart as the most important organ of the body. For him, it was the seat of intelligence, emotion, and sensation.
11th March Italian policeman Mauro Prosperi was 39 when he took part in the Marathon des Sables in 1994. This is a 155 mile race across the Moroccan Sahara desert. Why do people do such things? Anyway, a violent sandstorm, lasting 8 hours, caused him to get lost in the desert. Amazingly, he survived 9 days, by drinking bat's blood and his own urine, and by eating lizards and snakes that he caught. He was eventually found by one of the local Berber communities who fed and watered him and helped him get home. It was only then that he realised that he had crossed into Algeria, and was 181 miles off course.
4th March He was angry. Boy was he angry. Change that. He was furious. 'How dare you. How dare you act in such a way as this. In this building of all places. Do you not know where you are?' It must have been quite a sight. This man of God, who was building up a bit of a reputation for himself, venting his anger, in such a visible way, in the temple precinct.
25th February I wonder if you are fan of the Mission Impossible films? "Your mission, if you should decide to accept it...". Mission is a word we hear a lot about in the church. We talk about the mission of the church. The truth is, there is no such thing as the mission of the church. We are called to participate in the mission of God. To meet God where he is, and then to join in with what he is already doing. And that is what makes it Mission, possible.
18th February We could have a debate how 'natural', natural disasters actually are. Are they caused by something inherent in creation itself or are they "man made". In other words , if they are naturally an inbuilt part of creation, it would not matter what we did, these events would still happen. I suspect the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Volcanic plates that causes earthquakes and tsunamis have always happened and always will. Parts of the world are physically unstable. But drilling into the world most remote corners and finding plastics, has not. There are certainly things we need to take responsibility for. I raise this, not to debate the issues of climate change, but to introduce a story. This story is couched, not in terms of a natural disaster, but one brought upon the world, directly by the hand of God. In the language of the ancient world, what God had made was no longer seen as good. It is full of violence and corruption and required to be cleansed.
4th February 'I can only live where there is light, but I die if the light shines on me.' What am I? I am a shadow. We all cast shadows, but only if there is light. I am not a scientist, but it seems to me, the shadow itself, is neither light nor dark. It is an area of contrast. Only visible, because the light shines on other objects. Otherwise, they would never be seen.
28th January All of us have been involved in uncomfortable conversations. Places we rather not be. I hate to mention Donald Trump, but I will, he seems a master of generating multiple uncomfortable conversations that did not previously exist. They are all of his own making. Actually, we have all been there. Something we should not have said, or even tweeted, maybe, that leads to heated debate, an argument, and we wonder how did I ever get myself into this situation. Then there is poor old Mr Bolton. I think he is still head of UKIP. It was not something he said, but what his former girlfriend tweeted. He is now embroiled in multiple uncomfortable conversations.
7th January They had waited a long time for this moment. It seemed as if it would never come. It is hard to wait with a heavy weight of expectation on your shoulders for an event that would change history. I am not talking about Raith Rovers winning the league cup in 1994, or even Andy Murray winning Wimbledon in 2013, Britain's first win in the men's singles since Fred Perry's win, in 1936.

Click here to read sermon notes from 2017 ...