Below are some extracts from Rev Sheila Cameron’s sermon on 14 May 2023, when our readings had included Acts 17:22–31 and John 14:15–21.


How we need that “Spirit of truth” that Jesus speaks of in today’s Gospel!The church has always had a tough challenge standing up to the spirit of the age and, as Christians, we need to gather together in places of safety in the midst of the storms of scepticism and materialism that assail us …

In the Easter season we draw inspiration from the Acts of the Apostles, which tells a story of great courage and joy and spiritual power in the face of an equally sceptical audience. Today’s reading starts at the beginning of a great speech by Paul to the Athenians, but the verse just before it gives us an interesting glimpse of life in ancient Athens. The Revised English Bible has the translation: “Now, all the Athenians and the resident foreigners had time for nothing except talking or hearing about the latest novelty.” This was a world very like our own, restless, endlessly seeking fresh stimulation and new versions of everything, unable or unwilling to commit to anything in much depth or settle down in one place for long: perhaps because the one commitment that might be the key to life, the commitment to Jesus Christ, had so far eluded them.

In Acts 17, we see Paul addressing the scepticism of his own age, and pointing to the hunger for truth that lay behind it. The Areopagus was a large rock in the centre of Athens which served as a public forum and a place of trial, and Paul was taken there to be interrogated about the new faith in Jesus and the Resurrection which he had been preaching around the city.

What is so enormously impressive about this speech is how Paul identified with his audience. He showed them how familiar he was with their thinking; he referred to their commonly held beliefs – that there was a creator god; that this god had no need of anything from humans, including being worshipped in temples built by human hands; and yet this god was available to those who reached out to him.

Paul won the respect of his hearers, and what an important lesson that is for all of us. In the sharing of our faith it is so important to establish a foundation of common ground with our neighbours, to be friendly and concerned, generous and respectful. We don’t need to quote the Bible or recite the history of the church to explain the gospel. Shared culture, shared history, concern for others, common life experience and above all, willingness to spend time with others all provide excellent starting points to begin communicating our faith by our presence, interest, kindness, good humour and joy.


Do read the whole sermon, which is available at this link.

Our picture is of a stained glass panel that you can see at St Giles’ Catherdal, Edinburgh, made available through WikiMedia Commons at this link.

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  • 28 April 2024
    9:30 am Eucharist
  • 28 April 2024
    11:00 am Morning Worship
  • 5 May 2024
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    11:00 am Morning Worship

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