Thou hast given a banner to them that fear thee, that it may be displayed because of the truth. Selah—Psalm 37:4, KJV
It wasn’t the case that John Knox had not been a pastor before this date. After all, he has served as a pastor in a couple of congregations in his Anglican days. Further, during his time of exile, he had been a undershepherd in Germany and Geneva. But now, having returned to his beloved Scotland, John Knox was called to St. Giles, the mother church of Presbyterianism, the High Kirk of Edinburgh on this day, July 7, 1559. He was to serve the people of God there, except for a brief stint in St. Andrews, Scotland, for the next twelve years, until his death in 1572.
St. Giles was a historic church in many ways. It went back to the Middle Ages. In more recent times, the National Covenant was signed there in 1638. There is a framed copy of it in one of the rooms. Even the Solemn League and Covenant was drawn up in 1643 when the General Assembly met there at the church. Oh yes, this was also the church in which one Jenny Geddes threw her stool at an Anglican leader when he tried to lead the worship from the new Anglican Prayer Book, which action in turn led to a riot. Supposedly, there is a stool present within the church there to remember that celebrated incident. Then in 1904, a statue of John Knox himself was presented by Scots people from all over the world for the church.
Knox was a busy pastor during these years at St. Giles. He preached twice on Sunday. Another day of the week had him preaching three times. He met with the Session of Elders weekly for discipline purposes. Still others of the congregation met with him for what is described as “exercises in the Scriptures.” The regional and national meetings of the church were not neglected by the Reformer. And of course, he was invited to preach the Word all over the kingdom during those years. In fact, so busy was he that the Town Council in 1562 brought in another pastor by the name of John Craig to assist Knox in the ministrations of the ministry.
As far as books were concerned, in 1652, the First Book of Discipline was written there by Pastor Knox. Five years later, his Reformation in Scotland was completed while a pastor there.
And most of all, his celebrated conversation with Mary, Queen of Scots, all took place during these twelve years. He wanted to lead her to Jesus as Lord and Savior. She wanted to get rid of him out of the kingdom!
He was to take one sabbatical for his own safety to St. Andrews for a while. Someone tried to kill him as he sat in his study at his table. The bullet missed him. So he went to this other pulpit for a time. After several months, the Session re-called him as their pastor. He went back, but with little strength for the work of the pastor.
John Knox went to be with the Lord in 1572, the details of which this author will write on that date in Presbyterian History.
Words to Live By:
It has been said that John Knox was the Scotsman to whom the whole world owes a debt. Certainly, we Christian Presbyterians need to celebrate what the Holy Spirit did through him in Scotland and our land, considering that 2014 is the 500th anniversary of his birth. Is your church planning any sort of celebration of his life and ministry? It is not too late to plan one for your people’s appreciation of this Reformer, not to elevate the man, but to praise the Lord who so powerfully worked through him.