Something we won’t be trying at St Giles’

A pastor in the US state of Kentucky told his flock to bring handguns to church in what he said was an effort to promote safe gun ownership. Pastor Ken Pagano told parishioners to bring their unloaded guns to New Bethel Church in Louisville for a service celebrating the right to bear arms. He said he acted after church members voiced fears the Obama administration could tighten gun control laws. When the service began, some 200 people were present, AP news agency said.

“We are wanting to send a message that there are legal, civil, intelligent and law-abiding citizens who also own guns,” Mr Pagano told the congregation. “If it were not for a deep-seated belief in the right to bear arms, this country would not be here today,” he said.

Pastor Ken Pagano says he wants to show that gun owners are law-abiding. The pastor also held a handgun raffle, as well as providing information on gun safety. “I wish more churches did this, I wish more people did this,” the Louisville Courier-Journal quoted one attendee, Doreen Rogers, as saying. “For some reason, most people think that carrying guns is sinful. It’s not. I think my life is worth protecting.”

About 10 members of a private local militia also attended, the Courier-Journal said.

A coalition of religious groups and campaigners held a rival gun-free event at the same time on the other side of Louisville. “The idea of wearing guns to churches or any sacred space I think many people find deeply troubling,” organiser Terry Taylor told AP. In the US, the right to bear arms is enshrined in the Second Amendment of the US Constitution. There are thought to be more than 200 million firearms in private hands.
But some gun owners fear that the new administration in the White House could try to challenge or amend some gun ownership laws.
Critics of the laws, meanwhile,

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How weighty is our worship?

Isaiah 6 was the text for our Evensong service last week, it is the prophets account of his vision of God being worshipped by the Seraphim. Transfixed Isaiah hears them cry ‘Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of Hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory’. Exposed to God’s presence Isaiah is left undone. A man of unclean lips among a people of unclean lips.

In preparation for the sermon I listened to a far greater preacher than I expound this passage – Tim Keller of Redeemer church Manhattan. And he revealed an insight I might of heard before, but can’t recall.

The Hebrew root of the word for ‘glory’ is Kabod which has the meaning of heaviness. Thus a revelation of God’s glory is a revelation of his ‘weightiness’. His solidity, permanence and reality in a fragile, temporary, and unreal world…

The reality of God becomes real for Isaiah.

This observation became a central theme for my sermon. And it is an idea that I have found myself turning back to again and again throughout the week. The realisation that a revelation of God’s glory is an encounter with the reality of God. Isaiah is gifted with a sense of the realness of the real God. He feels the weight. And the experience leads to confession and then cleansing.

Most commentators believe this experience occurred as Isaiah was at worship in the Temple. And I think there is a challenge for us as churches in this passage.

How weighty is our worship? Does it lead us to moments of encounter where we come to a fresh awareness of the reality, permanence, weightiness – a fresh sense of the glory of God. Does it lead us to remember that the God whom we worship is praised by the Seraphim, and his reality is more real than the whole earth?

To listen to Tim Keller’s sermon visit here. More resources are available here.

Dark Irony of the murder of Dr Tiller

It is being reported that police in the US have arrested a man in connection with the murder of Dr George Tiller. Dr Tiller was well known in the States as an advocate of the ‘pro choice’ lobby. As a doctor he himself performed abortions and was one of a few doctors in the states to perform legal, but controversial, late term terminations.

He had been attacked before. In 1986 his clinic was bombed,and in 93 he was shot twice. The motives of his murderer have yet to be revealed, but there are suspicions that he is a fanatic on the fringe of the ‘pro life’ movement.

It strikes me that there is a dark, dark irony in murdering someone on the grounds that you are ‘pro life’. I would consider myself to be generally ‘pro life’ and for that very reason the thought of taking another life is abhorrent.

But then further reflection reveals that the justification of ‘sacrifice the few for the sake of the many’ has been used by killers for years. President Obama is surely right when he says:

“However profound our differences as Americans over difficult issues
such as abortion, they cannot be resolved by heinous acts of violence,”

Dark thoughts on a sunny morning.

Pentecost Celebration with Stanford on Soar

This last Sunday saw members of St Giles visit the parish church of St John the Baptist at Stanford on Soar, a small village close the Loughborough.

The aim of the day was to share fellowship together, and help the church to raise their profile in the community. We had games for the kids, a hog roast, a couple of barrels of Real Ale, and joined together for an open air communion service. I couldn’t tell you how many folk from the village joined us, but there were plenty of people around that I didn’t know. The sun was hot, and the energy of the kids was boundless. I was shattered by the end! When we got back home I was emailed the picture below from a church member who had been up to the top of the church tower. Reminds me of the childrens books – Where’s Wally. I’ll allow readers to make the connections!