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October 12, 2008


Churches of my childhood
I have been out visiting lots of different churches in recent months, all fine houses of worship. I could go to 100 different Christian churches within 20 miles or so - and I just might over a year or two.

This Sunday morning, I went back to my old home church about 5 miles away, the Andersonville Christian Church, in which I was baptized as a wee lad of 10 or 11.

It has that deeply reassuring old church smell about it, and the congregation is down to about half a dozen. But Zedda McQueen's still there after all these years. I'm not sure, but those might be the same hymnals that were in those pews when I was last here a quarter century ago. The preacher wasn't real slick and smooth, but he absolutely preached the Ten Commandments. That's some meat and potatoes Christian basics - good solid soul food.

They don't have a piano player now, since my Aunt Pam went off to a church in Metamora. Both Zedda and the preacher seemed a bit apologetic for their acapella singing, but they needn't have been. An imperfect choir humble before the Lord does me more good than a very good, well rehearsed singer with a karaoke backing track - as I have heard in some very nice churches. A handful of old women singing "wash me and I will be whiter than snow" is real and does me just fine.

A month ago, I got back to the Buena Vista Christian Church. This was the original church home that Ma took us to till about age 10. I expected my Aunt Alma to be there - and was especially pleased to see some of the grandchildren. But I was particularly pleased to find that my original preacher of my very earliest memories, Rev John Johnson was still there, and Nancy was still playing piano after 47 years - since a year or two before I was born.

It's comforting to go home like that. It occurs to me that it's the memory of these two small country churches from childhood, of the people and the books and the smells of these particular places that cause me to keep a generally positive outlook on religion and Christianity - despite the frequently misguided humans representing for Christ that get most of the media attention. Yeah, Pat Robertson's a freak - but Eugene Kemple was the calm wisdom in a storm. A wise, compassionate Christian is definitely your go-to guy in tough times.

Plus, it's good just to get out and thank the Lord for the air, the sunshine and the rain - even if you have doubts about whether someone's listening on the other end. An hour of singing and praying and fellowship can do a weary soul a world of good.



posted by Al at 10/12/2008 08:48:00 PM

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