Sunday, October 30, 2011

"Everybody Ought to Go to Sunday School"

Sunday morning, 9:10. We exit the parsonage via the front door, down the steps and turn left. We walk half-block to Walnut Street, turn right. From here it is a two-block walk to the church at the corner of Walnut and St. Vrain. It is imperative that we arrive by nine-twenty, so that we can smilingly greet the people as they arrive for Sunday school. There will be two services this morning, for Sunday school begins with a mini-worship service, mirroring almost exactly the routine that will be followed later in the "real" service. The Sunday School Superintendent conducts this service. He says an "invocation" then announces the hymn to be sung. (Hymn sung.) Then he calls on someone to "lead in prayer." (All kneel, someone prays. Maybe everyone prays.) Announcements are made and we are "dismissed" to our Sunday school classes. My teacher is Tom Frase, big Tom Frase, whose hands could envelop my head and still have room between them for (another) coconut.

Tom once sent his son, Hershel, to the store to buy a pair of work gloves for him. The proprietor asked the boy how big the man's hands were. Hershel grasped all four of the fingers on his left hand in his right hand and said, "One of Dad's fingers is this big." the storekeeper said, "Sonny, we don't have gloves for elephants." The really funny part of this tale is that Tom's fingers really were that big.

Anyway, back to Sunday school. The class consisted of, give or take on any given Sunday, about nine boys aged ten to twelve. And a more riotous bunch of boys would you seldom find in Sunday school, which may account for the "assignment" of Tom to shepherd the class.

Wow! Here it is 10:20 already and the bell is ringing, calling all classes to reassemble in the sanctuary. The superintendent rehearses briefly any highlights worth mentioning ("Sister Bland's class had four visitors this morning. Be sure to make them welcome," etc., etc.). Then he prays a dismissal prayer, whereupon the minister (that would be Dad) and the pianist immediately take their places and we swing directly into the Sunday Morning Worship Service.

And we sing.

And we pray.

And we sing.

And Dad preaches.

And we pray.

We go home.
(But we will be back at 6:20 for two more services, even if we are also back at 2:30 for a "special" service, which, thankfully, doesn't happen all that often.)


Vee said...

And be sure to arrive at SS before the "on time special." The good old days!

Secondary Roads said...

For me it was SS at 10, worship at 11. Youth group in late afternoon and evening worship completed the day.

Grace said...

Similar thing in our church - Sunday school started around 9:15. Service approximately a half hour - lots of singing - junior choir with robes and everything. Classes were arranged by age/school grade. Over by 10:30. Main church service at 11am. High school kids had Sunday school at 9:30 from 10:30 in the choir room with the seminarian - Between SS and church service we had time to run across the street to Jack's candy store and get a pretzel and an egg cream before the mad dash back to church to get into choir robes (Senior Choir) for those of us who participated.

8th graders had confirmation class at 3:30 on Sunday. And teens had YPS (Young People's Society) at 7:30pm on Sunday. YPS also started with a short worship service led by the kids, it was held in the parlour instead of the main sancutary, lots of singing, short sermon, written and delivered by the poor kids who got put on the "worship" committee - guess who alwaus got put on that. Then a business meeting, then fun and games - mostly dancing to records, occasionally something more serious like a guest speaker (oh yeah we were thrilled with those).

Business meeting was really about business - the YPS sponsored kids in other countries and the local retirement home. We did trick-or-treating for UNICEF, Work Day for Christ, ran the soft drink concession and "Grandma's Attic" at the Fall Jumble Sale. We were busy kids. We put on dances every few months with live bands (most of the time) which we had to coordinate with the local Catholic church's youth group (CYO) so we weren't holding dances on the same night.

Our church had a full professional size stage in the basement and once a year we put on a full blown play which ran for 3 nights - usually a light comedy appropriate for teens. The community really came out for that. The money from play went for scholarships for church camp - if needed.

There were mucho other activities at church and it seems I spent a goodly portion of my time there between the ages of 10 and 18. Best times of my life.

Jim Grey said...

There certainly was a time when church consumed a whole lot of Sunday. A few denominations still run things that way, but for the most part now it's 2 to 2.5 hours in the morning and that's that.

vanilla said...

Vee, oh, yes. Don't want to miss the "on-time special."

Chuck, pretty much the same background, give or take a few minutes.

Grace, it would appear that your church offered abundant opportunities for activities and worship. Good times. Thanks for sharing.

Jim, a correct observation. I addressed the issue in a blogpost some time ago. The true issue, though, is not how much time we spend in church, but rather how effectively we live for the Master.