The Preacher’s Work Week – Part 2

Psalm 134:1

Sunday Night

Sunday night services were really my favorite time the church gathered.  The atmosphere was relaxed, and people were in a good mood because they had a big Sunday lunch, watched the Dallas Cowboys win, and maybe even had a nice nap. We still covered the same basics as Sunday morning, three songs, Scripture reading and prayer requests, then a practical teaching from the Word.

Before Sunday evening worship, we had Training Union.  This was basically Sunday School, part 2.  We divided up into age groups, just like Sunday School. We had a book from the Sunday School Board in Nashville, just like Sunday School. The only difference was instead of the teacher teaching, we each had to read a part and offer some response to what we had read. Most of the time the response would be something profound, like, “Uh…I dunno.” Then the teacher would kick in his or her two-cents-worth.  In previous years, this had been known as BYPU (Baptist Young People’s Union). It was meant to keep young people off the streets and get them into church with interesting activities. In latter years, it was called Discipleship Training. I always envied the youth group, because they got to do things like playing volleyball or croquet with a short devotional.

The singing on Sunday night is where I first started developing a love for music.  Relaxed singing just feels better. You can experiment with harmonies a bit without people looking at you funny when you hit the wrong note.  On Sunday night we diverted from the officially ordained Baptist Hymnal to the little paperback Stamps-Baxter songbooks. The ones we used had shaped notes. For the un-initiate, shaped notes were a way for people who had no formal music training to learn melodies and harmonies. The heritage is found in the Sacred Harp singing schools that started in the Applachian churches. The notes were still found on a staff, but they were shaped into triangles, squares, and circles, representing the solfege system of do-mi-so, and so on.  We sang “Dwelling in Beulah Land,” “I Shall not be Moved,” and “The Good Old Way.”

I remember Cleta Carrol, the pianist.  She was pretty good on Sunday morning, but on Sunday night, she let loose.  Because it was less formal on Sunday night, Cleta wore her  house-shoes.  Not just any house-shoes, but sparkly, gold lame house-shoes with a little point on the end.  We called them “genie” house-shoes.  On Sunday night I would alternate between learning the shaped note harmonies and watching Cleta’s genie shoes working her magic on the reverb pedal. She pretty much ignored the soft-pedal until the invitation.

On Sunday night, my dad would switch from preaching mode to teaching mode. He would expound on the delicate intricacies of the verses, finding hidden gems previously unknown, then make a practical application for everyday living.  My fifth-grade English teacher had taught outlining, and on Sunday night, I practiced it. I would label my dad’s first point with a Roman numeral I. The supporting details and illustrations were capital A, B, and C. Point two was Roman numeral II. Supporting details were duly noted. The final point was Roman numeral III. Supporting details followed.  I could follow the sermon! There was a sense of satisfaction in this new-found note-taking formula. It was like…discovering the combination to a long lost chest and gazing on the treasures locked inside. (Truth-be-told, anyone can follow a good Baptist sermon; a good joke in the introduction to warm up the congregation, three points, and a sad poem.)

After church, everyone was happy. The biggest day in a pastor’s work week was complete. We went home full of the peace of God, the grace of Jesus, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit.  Sunday night supper was simple, but satisfying, usually scrambled egg and bacon sandwiches. I still love that meal today. It is true comfort food.  Then we would all sit around in the living room watching the second half of Disney (the Devil’s way of keeping the luke-warm out of church) or Hee-Haw (my dad’s personal favorite).

HeeHaw

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Published in: on September 21, 2017 at 10:06 am  Leave a Comment  

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