Sundays at Harmony

I must ask for your indulgence today. I am sure I will be all over the page with this story. I have it all in my mind but it isn’t very neatly filled.

The thoughts I am about to share are old. Actually, some are 55 years old. Some are my very earliest memories of my granddaddy’s church. My mother says that they aren’t my memories. She tries to convince me I heard about them as a child. She is wrong. I remember what I am about to share with you as if it happen last Sunday.

My grandparents lived within five miles of each other. At the same time, they lived in different worlds. If they were alive today, they would be democrats and republicans, conservatives and liberals. They were as different as night and day. Still I loved them equally. One of the greatest blessings God ever gave me was the time I spent with these four wonderful people.

Today I am going to take you for a visit to Granddaddy Simmons’s church. Maybe another day we will visit Daddy Blaine and Mama Blaine’s.

My grand parents lived in a small farm community called Harmony. Their church was named after the community, Harmony Church. I would say it would hold about fifty to sixty people.

What made this church unique was the fact that no two people viewed religion the same. Still, they all shared the same building together and even worshiped together.

My earliest memory and what my mother swears I don’t remember took place when I was no more than four years old. Electricity had not came to Harmony Church yet. They only held services ever other Sunday. The following Sunday the preacher had to pull duty down the road at another church.

There were hooks in the ceiling. When a family came in. They brought their own lanterns hooking them in the ceiling on Sunday nights. As I said earlier these people were all individuals with there own opinions about every thing. Some used a lot of wick to the point of smoking the ceiling while others didn’t believe in wasting coal oil (that was the fuel of choice back then) and kept theirs down to a very dull light.

This caused every kind of shadow imaginable to play on the walls. I was four-years-old looking at the shadows as the preacher spoke. Back then preachers weren’t afraid to talk about hell and describe it in detail. They were convinced that a wagon could turn over on the way home, killing an unsaved soul, damning him or her to hell for eternity.

I spent many Sunday nights drawn up under my grandmother’s arm scared to death. After all I could see on the walls the very demons and acidly fire the preacher was telling us about. My grandmother had already told me I was too little to be saved. This seemed to scare me even more. She explained these words of hell were meant for some older boys in the back.

As I got older myself and began to have a little more understanding of what was going on a round me the church became even stranger. I spent much time in my grandmother’s kitchen having things explained to me.

My parents belonged to a Baptist church in town that was as straight laced as any. Harmony was any thing but.

There was a lady named Mrs. Mayo. She spoke in tongues. Her husband didn’t go to church at all. He stayed home and set on the front porch having sinful thoughts. Nobody else in the church believed in praying or speaking in tongues. I suppose she represented the Pentecostals.

When she broke loose nobody seemed to pay her any attention but me.

I had no idea what she was doing. When I ask Grandmother about her, she said. “Oh she’s crazy as a Betsy bug. Don’t pay her no never mind. Moreover, Gary, don’t go telling anybody I said she was crazy either. You hear me?” Tell an eight-year-old something good and tell him not to tell anybody. See what happens next.

Mrs. Mayo’s son visited from time to time. He thought the only proper way to pray was on your knees. When he was asked to pray he got on his knees in the aisle and prayed hard, loud and long.

Several of my uncles attended the church and by the time, I was eight or nine one had actually become the preacher. One Uncle thought you had to stand when praying. One thought setting down was expectable. Then there was that one uncle my aunt shamed into coming on Sundays. He thought you should keep your praying to yourself.

Out of all my uncles, he was my favorite. He had just enough evil in him to keep thing interesting. His wife believed in lying on of hands and was always looking for someone to oblige her. Most of the time she was out of luck because no one else believed in this practice.

My cousin who played the piano strictly by ear was the only musician. When church was over she and I would sneak out to the graveyard and smoke a Prince Albert cigarette. One I had stolen from my granddaddy. By then, I was at least twelve.

Any way back to the story. Some of the people in the church thought a piano was of the devil. I suppose they were Church of Christ. Each Sunday the body sung four songs. Two with the piano that half the church took part in and two without that everyone took part in.

The only thing everyone agreed on was plenty of hell and heaven in the sermon. My uncle always came through for them. He was a chain smoker and I was amazed he could preach forty-five minutes without smoking. Back then the government hadn’t decided smoking was bad for you so it hadn’t became a sin yet. When it became a sin, it was too late for my poor uncle to over come it. Some how I think God forgave him.

I miss those heavens and hell filled sermons. I think they should use them more today instead of the watered down ones the preachers seem so fund of. Back then it was an accepted fact that Jesus loved you. It didn’t have to driven home. They were more into the here after at Harmony. You were either going somewhere better or worse when you left this old world. The cross wasn’t all nice and shinny either. When they sung about it. It was rough and painful. You could either leave your burdens on it or go to hell. There wasn’t any thing in between.

This is how the money went. One Sunday a month they took up for the preacher. He got what they took up. About ever fifth or sixth Sunday, they took up for the electric (this was after they got the wire).

There was no budget no deacons meeting and no financial report. If something needed painting or fixing they got together and did it. The parking lot wasn’t striped because it was mud and gravel and you parked your truck, wagon and horse or car if you were visiting where you wanted to. The people that got there early claimed the shady spots.

There was one family living up the road that only came on Sunday night. They didn’t believe in laboring from Saturday at Sundown to Sunday at Sundown. Two miles was too labor intense to travel.

My granddaddy told me they ate cold food for Sunday dinner because they didn’t believe in cooking on Sunday. I think my grandmother wanted to adopt their belief. At the same time, if given a choice between hell and cold biscuits I am not for sure which one Granddaddy would have taken.

I know I have poked fun at Harmony today. Everything I have said has been true except Granddaddy picking hell over cold biscuits.

Still, much of my deepest held beliefs come from that little church. I can still see my granddaddy leading the singing both with and without the piano player.

One last thing that just came to mind. The women sit on the left side and the men set on the right. Except for two families that set together. Nobody ever got up set with them.

Today churches split over what color the new hymnals will be.

I sure miss Harmony. I think when I get to heaven I’ll ask Jesus to get them all together for a good old Sunday get together. Course everyone want be able to come. I have always been told there is no night in heaven. The family up the road that only came at night might stay at home.

Some day I will write about the day the poor Jehovah Witnesses came through.

Be blessed


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One Comment on “Sundays at Harmony”

  1. God is Great. Let us pray for peace for the whole world.

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