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Looking Back: Kirk Week at the ‘Grass Roots’

From October 1962

By Glen Gibson

Theme of the Week:

"Jesus Is Lord"

It was late one evening beside the Auld Brig of Ayr. A score of white swans floated lazily ‘at anchor’ in the lee of the stonework. I could scarcely see them from my position at the steamy first-floor window against which I was pressed by some 60 other people in the room – young people, standing, sitting, sprawling – talking – about Kirk Week.

A young man sitting cross-legged in the centre of the floor, took off his spectacles, waved them expressively, and then with arms outstretched, gazed appealingly round.

“Will someone please tell me, in simple language, what ‘Jesus is Lord’ means?”

The words fell into a pool of hot steamy silence which lasted an embarrassing eternity – and then one or two people struggled into words.

That young man had put us ‘on the spot’. Smooth religious language just won’t do in answer to a question like that.

Picture No 2. The Press Room at Ayr Town Hall. News has just been received that the main speaker of the evening will be an hour late arriving. Reporters sit on the edge of tables, feet swinging, seeing their dead-lines creeping up, story-less. Time passes. Then one journalist, anxious to establish a point of contact with us Church folk tells me how he had covered the Billy Graham campaign. Discussion grows. Then the originator of the discussion: “One thing sticks me. How can Jesus possibly be the Son of God?”

And away we go, until the eventual arrival of the missing speaker puts an end to discussion.

Picture No. 3. I am having lunch with a professional photographer down to cover Kirk Week. Without any preamble at all, he launches into the deepest things of the Christian faith – Sin, Free-will, God the Creator. Question follows question. My answers don’t come so easily. I’d like to think it was the presence of a knife and fork in my hand that made thinking difficult. I doubt it!

Three personal pictures which illustrate Kirk Week at the grass roots. Wherever Kirk Week goes, it creates a climate of interest in Christianity. It provides an environment in which Christians and non-Christians alike can talk easily and naturally about the deepest things of Life. It reveals that all of us have inner compulsions to seek for Truth; and that ordinary daily life provides little release for these compulsions.

These are not interesting by-products of Kirk Week. They are its justification. They offer a sharp rebuke to those who think of this great event only in institutional terms. I was glad to have been at Ayr.

Ayrshire school choirs take part in the Festival of Praise at Kirk Week

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