Thursday, February 22, 2018

Billy Graham: A Memory

 Photo by Brent Moore / flickr

Yesterday when I heard Billy Graham had died--I went back to another time and another place. The year was 1950. We lived in a little cotton-mill village a hundred miles from Atlanta. My Daddy and Mother worked in the mill across from our house most of their adult lives. Somewhere word came that Billy Graham was coming to Atlanta. Even then everybody knew about the Evangelist Graham. We had read his books, listened to his Hour of Decision on the radio. Every time we heard "Just As I Am" it would remind us of Billy Graham and the Invitations he always gave.

I wanted to hear the great Evangelist--but Atlanta was far away. In fact I don't think I had ever been there. I don't remember many of the details but I do remember my Daddy telling me we
photo by Ralph W. Hayworth / flickr
were going to ride the train to Atlanta and we were going to hear the great Billy Graham. I invited a high school buddy to come along with us. We had no car so I suppose we rode the bus down to the train station. I have no memory of that first train ride on the Man o' War. I don't even remember getting off the train, seeing much of Atlanta or where we must have eaten. What I do remember is sitting high up in a baseball stadium crowded with, I guess thousands of other people. I don't remember a thing the preacher said that night--but I do remember being touched when from all over the house people came forward at the end of there service hoping to have their lives changed. My friend told me later that night was the beginning of his faith journey which took him to college then Seminary then church after church until his retirement.

I have little memory of that evangelistic crusade. But what I do remember, looking back is what a sacrifice it must have been for my Daddy with his seven-grade education to plan that trip--and make sure it happened. He wanted his boy to do something he really wanted to do. Taking a trip a hundred miles away was like going to the moon. I never thought it would happen.

My father and I had little in common. He was near-deaf which meant communication was almost non-existent between the two of us. And an adolescent boy, selfish and impatient--I did not realize how hard it must have been for him to understand much that happened around him. But he wanted to please this son whom he hardly knew.

Looking back--there is a lump in my throat. I don't remember much about Billy Graham that night--but I do remember my father who did what he could with what he had. I wish I had told him how much that trip meant. How hard it must have been for him to pull it off. And as I look back on the churches I served, the places I've lived and the sermons I have preached--maybe, just maybe that Daddy and that trip has meant far more in shaping my destiny than anything I ever dreamed.
My father: John Lovett

--Roger Lovette /

Sunday, February 18, 2018

The First Word from the Cross: "Forgive Them" -- A Lenten Sermon

Photo by Jes / flickr

Today is the first Sunday of Lent. And Lent is supposed to be that 40 days that lead to Easter. The church gives us 40 days to get ready for the wonder of the Open Tomb. And the church has historically used these days as a time of pushing back a little and thinking, thinking about Jesus and what he asks of us. And what it really means to be a Christian.

And what I want to do is to use these days to turn again to that hill far away. To Golgotha—skull-shaped. A place where we find a cross. Remember the old song; “At the cross, at the cross where’d I first saw the light and the burden of my life fell away—It was there by faith that I received my sight, And now I am happy all the day!” That’s what we are going to concentrate on until Good Friday. And maybe, just maybe standing so near the place where Jesus died—we might just find something to keep us going.

The church collected the words that Jesus spoke from the cross. They called them: The Seven Last Words. And we are going to stop beside all seven of these words in the next few weeks. And listen. Really listen. The Rule of Benedict says we are to listen with the ears of the heart. It isn’t easy this listening. We are bombarded telemarketers, by TV and newspapers and web sites and I-phones and sermons. And we’ve heard so many words that we just tune them out, don’t we. Even sermons—especially sermons.

But the seven last words say: Listen—listen—listen. I don’t know anybody who does not need this first word: forgiveness. As they nailed nails into his hands and feet, they lifted up that splintered crossbeam to put it into place. The body was suspended on a stave between his legs. The hurt must have been excruciating. On either side of Jesus were two thieves—common criminals—he was surrounded by soldiers who must have smoked and told dirty jokes and gambled for his garments. In the shadows the rulers stood by and smirked. The ugly crowds pointed to Jesus, as crowds always do—and they laughed. The disciples? Where were they? Scared out of their wits. The book said “they all forsook him and fled.” Judas had already hanged himself. Peter had gone away in shame and derision. And only three women—his mother and two others and John, one lone disciple stood at the foot of the cross.

Courtesy of Artezoe / flickr
So this was the setting of Jesus’ first word. What—what did he say? Listen. Listen. “Father, forgive them for they knew not what they do.” Back at the edge of the circle an old man nudged his neighbor and said, “What did he say? What was it.” And the neighbor said: “He said: “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” And the old near-deaf man said: “Oh..”

Those words are a prayer. They are spoken by Jesus to his heavenly Father. He did not pray for himself. He prayed for them—all those that stood there—and the two thieves, too. “Forgive them.”

Them?  Who are the them’s for whom he prayed? They were the soldiers who cast lots and had no idea what was really going on. Just carrying out orders. Who were the them’s? That nasty crowd that sneered and gawked and called him names. Who were the “them’s”? The rulers in purple robes standing before the microphones and reading off their teleprompters. Who were the them’s? The two sad criminals on each side. But the them’s were also his Mama who wept and those two who came too hold her up and John who was there until the end. He prayed for Judas, who was dead by his own hand and Simon who had betrayed the best thing he had ever known. And I think he also prayed for all the cowards and the weak ones and the broken out there somewhere.

This first word is a word of inclusion. Not only for them. It is a word for us, too. I think he prayed for all of us. You and me and the drunks and homeless and kids riding school buses and the parents in Florida planning today funerals for their fifteen-sixteen years olds. He prayed for us all. We are all included in that first word. 

Remember how Jesus started there at the beginning of his ministry. He came preaching—preaching what? A gospel, a good news of repentance. A forgiveness of sins. Disturbing the status quo. Turning everything inside out. Saying, over and over, you can be different. Whores? Yes. Tax-collectors? Yes. The addicted? Yes. The scared and frightened? Yes. Who are the them? Not only Pilate and Judas and Simon but you and me, too. We are in that company. The Greek original puts it this way: “While they were crucifying him, he prayed: ‘Father forgive them…’

Can you hear what he said? Forgive them. Listen  Forgive all of them. We are all taken in. None of us are left out. And you know there are some that I wish he would leave out. I have this list—do you have one too?

We spent a month in Oxford, England. And I told my wife I wanted to go to Coventry to visit
the cathedral the Germans bombed in the Second World War. We took the train and found ourselves in the little village of Coventry. The Cathedral there was over a thousand years old. It was a beautiful place. And on the night of November 14, 1940 the Germans bombed the city and the Cathedral was destroyed.  More than 550 citizens lost their lives that night. Nothing was left but crumbling walls where this magnificent building had been. The next morning and the demolition crews came in the town decided they would rebuild their church. And finally the foundation of the new Cathedral was laid by the Queen in March of1956. 

When we visited there—we saw they had kept the ruins. They did not tear them down. But they stood as a grim reminder of what had been. And what evil could do when let loose. To the left of those remains was an archway that leads to the new Cathedral. And in that archway—we stopped. There is a cross—a cross made from the nails and chased beams that fell that terrible night. Natives found some of them still burning. And so they took those nails and the burned-out timbers and constructed a cross. Underneath that cross are two words: “Father Forgive.” And then next door is this beautiful new structure. I try to keep remembering those old bombed-out ruins and those words and the new building. Evil does not have the last word. And the bridge between the old and the new are always the words: “Father Forgive.”

For the charred remains of your dream or lost virtue or failure or hope is where forgiveness begins. He prayed for whatever it is that we just can’t let go of. All the things that cripple and diminish us. Money. Sex. Status. Shame . Heartbreak. Doubt. Fear. Grudges. Hatred of self. Hatred of self. Hatred of self. He prayed for whatever it is we need to let go of.

Those words: “they know not what they do” are troublesome. Does it mean that if we do not know what we do it does not matter. Not at all. I like the way Karl Rahner translates this phrase. “They know not what they do.” He says there is only one thing we do not know. It’s not our sins. Oh, we know them well. Only one thing, he says we do not know. It is God’s love for us. Most of us have never to really heard how much God really loves us. We are like the old man who asked, “What did he say?What did he say?”

I really don’t know how it happens. But forgiveness can touch us all. I was on a plane
leaving Birmingham for somewhere up north. And my seat mate was a distinguished black lady. Her name was Mrs. Robertson. We began to talk. “Do you live in Birmingham?” I asked. “Yes, I have lived here all my life.” 

 I asked her, “You wouldn’t be a member of the 16th Street  Church, would you?” (Remember the 16th Street Church was where four little black girls were killed one Sunday morning.) And she said, “I used to be a member of that church.” “Were you there during the bombing?” I asked. She said, “My daughter was killed that day. Her name was Carole with an ‘e.” She said, “ I was getting ready for church that morning when my husband came by with the terrible news.” She grew quiet and then she said: “Life was different--always different after that.”

We struck up a friendship that day and from time to time we would talk on the telephone. Years later they finally caught a couple of KKK members responsible for that bombing. They asked Mrs. Robertson to testify at one of the trials. Doug Jones that just became a Senator in Alabama was the lawyer. Mrs. Robertson was in a wheel-chair and they wheeled her in that morning and she testified. “This would have been my daughter Carole’s thirtieth birthday.” And she told that courtroom the story of her loss and sadness.

Later Spike Lee interviewed her for the movie, “Four Little Girls.” which tells the story of that awful morning. At the end of the movie Mrs. Robertson speaks. She was asked, “Can you forgive the men that did this?” 

In her gravelley voice she said, “I forgave them a long time ago.It was hard but I have learned that if you don’t forgive that stuff will choke you to death. Life is just too short to hang on to that. “

That first word that Jesus spoke from the cross is for us all. “Forgive them…” Whatever it is we have done or not done. We can be forgiven. And the message he left was that whatever is broken or wounded or killed or burned out—like our Lord we must all work hard to forgive. For you see Mrs. Robertson was right. Life is just too hard to hold on to that stuff. It will choke us to death.This is the first word that came down from the cross. We are forgiven! We are forgiven! Wed are forgiven! No wonder Mark called it good news.

(This sermon was preached at the First Presbyterian Church, Pendleton, SC, 2-18-18

--Roger Lovette / roger

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Ash Wednesday in Trump-ville

Today begins the journey once more. That is, unless we are preoccupied with everything from battered women, staff denials, and wondering what will happen to the dreamers. Or maybe just thinking of that loved one you lost or trying to undo some credit card scam or waiting quietly but scared of that lab report and what the Doctor just might say.

Alongside cold February comes Ash Wednesday--the beginning of the Lenten journey. So for seven weeks, if we can squeeze it into our busy schedules we might just lift our eyes above the too-muchness of our lives to something higher and deeper.

Lent lasts for Forty days. The church looked back to those 40 years God's people wandered around, from pillar to post, in some desert. And then the church remembered those 40 days that Jesus spent in his own wilderness where he would meet temptation after temptation.

Some of us know well the desert. T.S. Eliot, the poet captured this desert:

                                "The desert is not remote in southern tropics,
                                  The desert is not only around the corner,
                                  The desert is squeezed in the tube-train next to you,
                                  The desert is in the heart of your brother."

But that's not all, Mr. Eliot. Most all of us know about the desert. That place where we live hand to mouth. Wondering, wondering if there will be enough--maybe food or water or investments or just enough strength to get us there. Knowing full well we can get lost in  the desert. Knowing we have to watch out for all sorts of dangers: scorpions and warring tribes that would slit our throats, to those inner demands that come when we least expect them and wreak havoc in our bodies and often in our souls.

Without sounding too preacherie--those wondering Israelites found God in their forty year journey. Something happened to them out there where the wind blew and it was cold. They became a people with ties that last even to this day. Out there not knowing which way to go they hammered out the Ten Commandments--which it looks like we are trying to pigeon-hole today.

But there in that wilderness they learned something about themselves--good and bad. They were weak as water and they could be mean as hell. Yet  underneath their bragadossio they were all looking for a place maybe where the men were strong and the women were good-looking and the children were above-average. Not only that but a place where, as the old book said: "...they shall all sit under their own vine and under their own fig tree and none of them will be made afraid." (Micah 4.4) They learned that in the desert and maybe we, in these desert days, still find a hope to keep us going.

In Jesus' wilderness he almost lost it. Tempted over and over by the Devil--temptations more alluring than any Stormy Daniels--he fought and wrestled with who he was and what he was to do. Those 40 days toughened him and he left there to begin his own journey and now we know the rest of that shining story.

And so--as we stand in this long line waiting to kneel and be touched by the ashes--maybe something more than "you are ashes and to ashes you will return" will take place in that kneeling. God knows most of us in our own special wilderness struggling with so much and so many--we need what we find at the end of the long line. The terrible truth that we really are mortals and that our days really are numbered. But more--something in the kneeling, in that silence, and the stained glass windows--or looking around at people just like us--we know that long ago they made it through their own terrible wilderness and with the help of the Almighty we may too.

And so, even bearing this mark of our ashes and humanity we push up from our kneeling and walk out into the sunshine believing that somehow even here--our own wilderness we will find what we all need. Maybe somewhere in these forty days we will be lead up to a craggy hill and an open tomb. And the Easter we desperately need.

photo by Jay Mallin / flickr
 --Roger Lovette /

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Don't Miss the Trip--A Transfiguration Sermon

Photo by Marko Nuraberger / flickr

Have you ever missed a trip? At one time or another we all have. But my question is more far-reaching than that. Will you miss the trip. Max Lucado* tells the story of a businessman  who was sitting in a plane waiting to take off. He was in 14D—a woman next to him was in  14E. She was obviously pretty country with her purple velour pants suit. He was from the city—Brooks Brothers suit and all.  From her talk he could tell she was pretty cornpone. He was sophisticated, sitting there with his aluminum briefcase, laptop and I-phone. The woman looked pretty old.

It was obvious that she had never been on a plane before. “I don’t do this much,” she grinned. “Do You?” He’d nodded. “Oh,” she said, “that must be a lot of fun.” He groaned. It was going to be a long flight. He was in the middle of a hectic week, his plane was late and overbooked. He had already stood in a long line and didn’t get enough sleep the night before. 

She looked out the window and squealed, “Ooooh—look at that big lake.” He just wished she would shut up. She volunteered that she was going to Dallas to see her boy., “I hope he’s OK. He had the flu last week And he’s got a new dog. A black Lab. I can’t wait to see the dog—his name is Skipper.”

People turned around in their seats to stare. The man next to her just wanted to crawl under the seat.  The flight attendant came by asking what they wanted to drink. He asked for a Diet coke. She asked a second time about the choices. When her drink came she said that she didn’t know that apple juice came in cans—it was delicious. And when the sandwich came she said out loud: “Why there’s even mayonnaise in here—and salt and pepper and a cookie!”

This went on the whole flight. She missed nothing. She opened the airline magazine and oozed and ahed. She tried to adjust the overhead light and pushed her seat way back. She loved the lunch. He thought it tasted like cardboard.

When the plane finally landed, she turned and said, “Now wasn’t that as fun trip?” As he watched her collect her sacks and belonging and shuffle down the aisle—it suddenly hit him. Why was it that she had that he didn’t have? What was it that she knew that he didn’t get? She had enjoyed the whole trip while he was just miserable. Like most of the others on that plane.

In Matthew 17 Jesus took three disciples up, up to the top of a mountain. It was midpoint in
photo by Lawrence OP / flickr
Jesus’ journey. The clouds were already hanging low over his ministry. The Pharisees and Sadducees were making it hard. His disciples kept bickering. Word came from his Mama: “Why don’t you just come home.” He began to talk to his followers about dark things like suffering and Jerusalem and a cross.  He talked to them about saving their lives by losing them. 

And so Jesus took Peter, James and John with him up the hill. They went to the top of Mount Hermon which was 9,100 feet high. And there on that mountaintop something happened. It as strange and hard to put into words. Later when they wrote the story down they called it transfiguration. Moses and Elijah appeared. Jesus’ face shone like they had never seen it. And God spoke. God. He said the same thing he had said at Jesus’ baptism: “This is my beloved son…Do not be afraid.” They were dumbfounded and it turned them inside out. Looking back later they would say that day on the mountain changed their lives. They were never quite the same. Simon Peter had wanted to stay there forever. What a feeling. Let’s just build three temples and stay here. But Jesus shook his head. The vision faded. Moses and Elijah left as quickly and they had come. And Jesus led his three friends down, down that winding mountain.

In verse nine Jesus called what had happened that day a vision. Scholars use the big word: theophany—a visitation for God. And the disciples would tell it over and over until it found its way into every gospel. That day, that special day when God came down and they beheld his glory. It took their breath away. 

Maybe you’re wondering what does this story of that little woman and man on the plane have to do with this Transfiguration story?  Everything.

There comes a time when we have to disengage. From time to time we activists jus need to stop, look and listen. Not to do anything—but just be there. That is a a pretty hard thing for most of us to do—just stand there. We think we’ve always got to be doing something. After I retired people would come up and say, “Now that you are retired what are you doing?” And I would think: doing? What do you think retirement is supposed to be. 

A couple of years ago there was this T-shirt that said: “Jesus is coming back—look busy.” There’s more truth in those words than we let on. The man on the plane missed the joy of his journey because he was drowning in busy-ness. The woman next to him was able to focus on the moment. She was present. We can’t enjoy the trip if everything all runs together—we need some pauses.

Robert Fulghum tells about this woman so stressed out she went to see a psychiatrist.  After listening to her story, the doctor wrote out a prescription and handed it to her. She took it to the drug store and gave it to the pharmacist. He read it and gave it back to her. “I can’t fill this—but you can.” She read it: “Spend one hour some Sunday watching the sunrise while walking in a cemetery.” And she got in touch with her life. She saw the sun coming  up—really saw it. She heard the birds sing. She looked around at the green trees and grass—and it reset the lenses of her life. There comes a time when we all have to push back and disengage. Isn't this what the season of Lent is supposed to be about?

I think this story also says: We are to open our eyes. The woman on the plane saw. Everything. The man was blind,. Peter, James and John would tell the others later that on top of that mountain it was hard to put it into words but it was like their eyes were opened for the first time. Why, they said we saw things we never saw before.

People are always handing preachers books. And sometimes we just groan. But I looked at the title of this book somebody gave me. A Touch of Wonder. Dear God, I remember thinking, I need that. I need that bad: some wonder. It doesn’t happen every day—but we all need some transfiguring experiences when we step aside what we never saw before. 

photo by krystle at /
Look out your window. Look. The woman across the street carefully comes down the steps to get her paper. Her arthritis is killing her. She lives alone. She lost her husband four years ago and her sister died last week. I wonder how she’s doing? Look out the window. There are workmen next door finishing a house. They’re laughing. Laughing. Look out there window. A man walks down the street with two dachshunds—he’s smiling. Out that window the trees are just beginning to bud out. And the sky is a blue. II Peter 1.16 says: “We have been eyewitnesses to the majesty.” What a wonderful thing to say. Now I wish those telemarketers would quit calling. I wish my back didn’t hurt—or I don’t have to go to the grocery store. I better get up from here and pay these bills. No. Pay attention. The majesty is all around us. Isn't that what the season of Lent is supposed to be about?

One of the things that happens is that when our perspective changes—we see the big picture. What is this big picture? Well, when that dazzling experience was over what happened? The book says: they saw Jesus only. They remembered.  God said Jesus was his beloved. They remembered  later that God had said you don’t have to be afraid. They remembered that even if they suffered—and they would—God was in it. They remembered that even if things did not work out the way they wanted—and so often wouldn’t—still: God is in it. They began to see this whole thing was larger than they ever imagined. This Jesus. God’s voice. His calling them. God was in it.

After I moved away from Clemson I was invited back to the 100th Anniversary of the church and had a great time. As I started to leave a member of the centennial committee said they were putting together a video of different pastors and their experiences while they were at the church. Not wanting to miss being a video star I agreed to let them interview me. What did you learn from your time here.? They asked. I thought and said: You know one of the lessons I am still trying to learn is that we have to look at the big picture. The big picture. Not the little picture. That irate member. That stain on the carpet. That screaming baby back there. The sagging budget. Why has Mrs. so-and-so quit coming? I said in the video that I spent too much time on the little things that don’t matter. I can’t even remember all those little things that kept we awake at night. We all have to look at the big picture.  If we really do believe what we say we do—we have to remember faith says it is going to be all right. Whatever happens we don’t have to be afraid. It’s going to be all right. 

So they came down the mountain with Jesus. And they didn't think about what happened to them until later. But God was there--in it. And God would even be there when they put Jesus on trial and nailed him to the cross. And God will be with us despite the cancers and the divorces and the time spent in AA and the depression that sometimes takes over. Even crazy Washington. God is here. Here. 

l wonder when the church put the lectionary together they put the Transfiguration story right before the beginning of Lent. And what it says is that God really is here. So let us open our eyes. Who knows we, too might just be eyewitnesses to the majesty. And if that happens—we can take whatever comes. Isn't that what Lent is all about?

*Story found in Max Lucado's, the Eye of the Storm (Dallas: Word, 1991) pp.61-63

photo by Erik Brockdorff  /  flickr

(Sermon preached at the First Presbyterian Church, Pendleton, SC, February 11, 2018)

--Roger Lovette /

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Getting Through This Mess

Like so many of you I am struggling--hard--trying to keep my perspective. lt isn't easy. Beset by porn stars and black-eyes on beauties and tumbling markets and lies and lies and lies. Workers come in and nail up a wall between the Democrats and Republicans on the Intelligence Committee. Intelligence? I am struggling hard with all those Dreamers that have gotten lost in the shuffle. What will they do? What will we do? At every turn it seems to get worse--the chaos and the hatred and the wrongness of so much. I am beginning to understand those black football players who fail to stand for the flag. It looks like we will tear that blood-stained symbol to pieces. How does one keep a healthy perspective in such  time as this?

Looking for a sermon illustration I bumped into this quote by Mahatma Gandhi: On the eve of Lent I need badly to ponder his words:

                            "When I despair, I remember that all through history
                                        the way of truth and love has always triumphed.            
                              There have been tyrants and murderers, 
                         and for a while they seem invincible, 
                     but in the end they always fall."

One man asked his friend over coffee: "With all the wars and constantly looming threats, how do you keep going?" And she responded, "I have to really rejoice in the smallest of victories." Yes--that's it. Not Pollyanna stuff. The courage of the Dreamers--still. The immigrants that refuse to give up. The little boy that has worked hard to provide electricity in Puerto Rico. And he has made a difference. The woman who carries her heavy grief and still refuses to give up. The cancer survivor. The MeToo's--that just keep growing despite incredible odds.  And the buds I saw coming up out of the hard winter ground just this morning.  Spring will come. The flowers will bloom and one of these days things really will be better. 

Read some poetry. Ponder the beauty of a painting. Listen to music. Smile at a stranger. Resist every effort to give in and throw in the towel. Wendell Berry helps me in these hard times. In one of his poems he says: 

"What stood will stand, though all be fallen,
The good return that time has stolen.
Though creatures groan in misery,
Their flesh prefigures liberty
To end travail and bring to birth
Their new perfection in new earth.
At word of that enlivening
Let the trees of the woods all sing
Ands every field rejoice, let praise
Rise up out of the ground liker grass.
What stood, whole in every piecemeal
Thing that stood, will stand though all
Fall--field and woods and all in them
Rejoin the primal Sabbath's hymn."*

Yes! Yes! Yes!

*Poem found in Wendell Berry's This Day (Berkeley: Counterpoint, 2013) p.15

Since this is Black History Month I remember
that gorgeous stained glass window
found in the 16th Street Baptist Church,
Birmingham, Alabama.
Even in the saddest occasions we are not alone.

         --Roger Lovette /

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Everybody Needs a Laugh!

photo by Elliott P. / flickr

Everybody needs a laugh...especially these days. Like you I get inundated with more than I want or need on my emails, etc., etc. But once in a while something is so good I have to share it, Enjoy. Where it comes from who knows? Maybe somebody's missing emails.

I know it’s late notice, but a friend of mine has two tickets for the Super Bowl in Minneapolis, MN at the new U.S. Bank Stadium on Sunday February 4th. They are box seats and he paid $3,500 per ticket, which includes the ride to and from the airport, lunch, dinner, a $400.00 bar tab and a pass to the winners locker room after the game.  

What he didn't realize when he bought them last year was that it’s on the same day as his WEDDING.

If you are interested, he is looking for someone to take his place.

It's at St. Paul's Church at 3 pm. Her name is Ashley. She’s 5'4", about 115 pounds, a good
 cook, loves to fish and hunt and will clean your truck. She'll be the one in the white dress.

photo by Igbal Osman / flickr

--Roger Lovette / 

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Guns, Jesus and Church Safety

One church's Memorial to 331 gun victims in Philadelphia  from 2012.
photo by cocoa biscuit / flickr

The Religious News Service has this article by Jeffrey MacDonald about how the government is working to keep churches safe during this strange time. Who would have ever thought we would in this place. My only fear is that the government can get carried away and overstep their work with church. Separation of Church and State is still a cardinal rule in this country. Funny--as the government steps in--nobody but nobody seems to realize the danger that guns cause everywhere. Will we ever learn not to get rid of the guns but to keep them out of the hands of crazy people. Nary a word about gun registration or legislation.

It would be irresponsible if churches did not struggle with how to keep their congregations safe these days. I recommend Kyle Childress' fine article in the Christian Century on "Guns and Baptism." Deep in the heart of Texas this faithful minister writes about how his church is dealing with faithfulness to Jesus Christ and safety of his members. He is Pastor of the Austin Heights Baptist Church, Nacogdoches, Texas.

I recommend both of these fine articles.

photo by Lawrence OP / flickr

--Roger Lovette /