Wednesday, May 6, 2009
In the spring as a young child, I wore a pretty dress (perhaps smocked), short white gloves, and white patent leather shoes, with a hat or ribbons in my hair to church. Yes, I was brought up in church. My family was faithful church attendees, after all, we were in Bible belt country. In my hand was a little matching purse which carried mints and a quarter for the offering plate. My first church was certainly "old school." The church pews were wooden benches with carvings made by kids. The floors were well-worn hardwood. On the side wall hung a Sunday School banner showing the offering and attendance. There was no air-conditioning. Instead, you used a hand fan to cool yourself. It was made of a stiff cardboard attached to a stick. On one side was usually a picture of Jesus. On the other side was an advertisement usually from either a funeral home or insurance company. Before service, you were greeted with a "fellowship handshake." We sang hymns from the "blue book" like "Victory in Jesus," "I'll Fly Away," "Since Jesus Came Into My Heart, and O, I Want to See Him." People prayed individual prayers out loud, all at the same time. During preaching, many shouted "amen and preach it!" Sunday evening services were more relaxed and interactive. Testimonies were taken, annointing oil, sermons preached, altar calls given, and knees knelt. Wednesday nights were for the "faithful few." I still feel a deep sense of indebtedness to the church of my youth and to all those who instructed me in the Lord. It was a place for renewal and hope. Back in the day, those believers may have not been very "polished," but they were sure sincere, dedicated, and lively. For better or for worse, church gave me a "compass" for my life. It was the launching pad that shaped and built my character and beliefs. It is a part of my heritage I cannot deny.