Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Here We Go!

I held onto Daddy's large hand as he guided me up the sharp and uneven church steps. My heart was beating furiously as sweat rolled down my back. I did not want to worship at his church on this particular Sunday. Actually, I did not want to attend at all. Once we were inside, Daddy told me to have a seat in a pew while he went to "warm-up" with the choir. Now, sitting in a pew; I had wondered if Daddy would have noticed from the choir loft if I had left to go to the corner drug store for candy or attend my mother's church a couple of blocks away. I thought better of the idea and prayed that Mrs. Hattie Mae Bevins would not attend church service.

Sitting on one of the many rows of cushioned pews with my feet far away from the hardwood floor, I had noticed the cathedral-looking rostrum, the elaborate organ, the horseshoe balcony and the exquisite light fixtures that hung from the ceiling. Several of Daddy's church friends gave me a kind greeting and then rubbed me on the head - like it was going to bring them good luck or something.

Minutes later, the church organist took her rightful place and began to play some familiar hymns as more worshippers entered the sanctuary. Several nurses dressed in starched white uniforms and caps stood strategically around the House of the Lord. Since there were so many nurses at church, I had wondered if someone was going to die. As though she was waiting for the proper moment, Mrs. Hattie Mae Bevins entered the sanctuary. "Oh Lord! Here we go!" I thought aloud. Short in stature with an over sized hat pulled over her gray hair, Mrs. Bevins strolled down the center aisle and sat in her normal seat. I'm thinking that Mrs. Bevins was around 125 years old back then. Let's keep in mind that I was seven-years-old, so everyone with gray hair was real old to me. However, she may have been deep down in her eighties.

The order of service was liturgically correct and ran smoothly from 11:00 a.m. until a minute or two after twelve. Then, The Reverend Andrew Washington took his place behind the sacred desk as the lights were dimmed in the sanctuary. My head began to hurt, my heart rate increased its rhythm, and I felt like fleeing the church. Someone said that this is how the unchurched feels when they enter the House of the Lord. Anyway, Reverend Washington began his fire and brimstone sermon. Mrs. Bevins swayed from side-to-side in her pew and began to wipe away her tears. The fiery sermon continued as Mrs. Bevins started to cry aloud and stomp her feet. Three nurses rushed to her side carrying a glass of water and a church fan. Mrs. Bevins then released a loud wail, jumped to her feet and waved her arms in the air. I think she shouted, "Oh Lord! Oh Lord! Sweet Jesus! Glory!" over and over again. Reverend Washington, noticing Mrs. Bevins, increased  his tone and vocal pitch as the nurses made vain attempts to fan Mrs. Bevins.

After her usual performance, Mrs. Bevins sat down for a short spell and sobbed. Once Reverend Washington raised his voice again, Mrs. Bevins jumped to her feet released another high pitched scream, flailed her arms and smacked Mrs. Ethel Jamerson, who was sitting right next to her, across the face. In a fit of anger, Mrs. Jamerson said, "If you don't sit your old hind parts down and stop all that crying, I'm gonna give you something to cry for! I'm tired of you hitting me every Sunday!" So, Mrs. Bevins took her seat and just whimpered for the rest of the sermon. I had often wondered what kind of sinning was Mrs. Bevins doing during the week at her age that she needed to cry and pass out at church every single Sunday. Weeks later, Daddy informed me that Mrs. Jamerson had found a new seat in church.

So, after that worship service I figured that it was time to end my visits to Daddy's church - except for special occasions. I conveniently joined the youth usher board at my mother's church (read my post: "It's Not In Braille") and then the youth choir. I figured that would keep me busy for quite a few Sundays in a row. Besides, Mom's church kept the lights on during the sermon; service ended around 12:30 p.m.; there were no nurses in white uniforms; and nobody screamed - frightening a sweet, young, innocent seven-year-old boy like I was...tee, hee, hee.

Until next week, keep praising His name,
Sir Charles

                                   In The Black

Preacher Man


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