Thursday, October 10, 2013

Back in the ‘70s, when my family and I first reestablished our roots in the Ozark Mountains of south central Missouri, we were almost immediately adopted by members of the local Baptist church.  It was a small church, old and well established in the community, the kind of church you might expect to find in a Norman Rockwell painting.  Its congregation consisted of about fifty god-fearing souls, native Ozarkers for the most part, steeped in the old traditions and steadfast in their faith and their beliefs. The little rock structure was modest and unassuming, boasting few accouterments beyond a well tuned piano and the little tin outhouse in the back.  When we enjoyed dinner on the grounds, it was literally on the ground.  We filled our plates with the sumptuous bounty that the women folk provided in vast variety and abundance, and we sat in the shade on the ground. When I was baptized in 1979, we all drove to the creek and the congregation gathered with song books in hand as Brother Billy praised God and washed my sins away, in the icy waters of a pristine Ozark stream.  The worship music for this and all occasions was chosen from our Heavenly Highway Hymnals, rousing, southern gospel selections, guaranteed to touch hearts, win souls, and praise our God on high. I was a member of this little church for twenty years, until my children insisted on a larger, more modern facility, with a more thriving youth group and contemporary Christian music. Many things have changed since those golden days at Dry Creek Church.  Our country itself has changed.  Mercy, compassion and the grand old fellowship have become complicated, compromised and convoluted by partisanship politics and the grand old party. Traditional southern gospel selections rarely grace the morning worship service, and once welcome visitors are scrutinized or scorned if they appear to lean politically to far left. Some people today are ashamed of the old hymns, the old traditions, the old hospitality, and Christ’s unconditional love. Not me.  Give me the old hymns, dinner on the ground, and the outstretched hands of humble people, welcoming sinners and serving a merciful God. Give me people who serve their God, cherish our flag, and offer their hand unconditionally to any who’ll have it.  SC

No comments:

Post a Comment