I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord.
I grew up in a cold small country church, and I now attend a cold large church.
The Dry Creek Baptist Church of my childhood was a wooden clapboard building with not even a hint of insulation. The temperature inside the sanctuary was exactly whatever the weather was outside.
I most remember how bone-chilling cold it could be in winter. There were two space heaters up front, but they did little to heat the rest of the auditorium.
It was the practice of the older women to bring a shawl to church. They’d drape it over their lap during the service. Most ladies placed their shawls over the back of the pew between Sundays.
I learned at a young age not to mess with those shawls. Don’t move them and don’t sit within an arm’s length of these sacred spots.
Most of the year, Dry Creek, Louisiana was hot, and the shawls were stored away for the next cold spell.
However, there was one place that was off-limits year-round: Lucille Mosley’s red footstool. This spot on the pew was reserved for her and her alone. She would rudely root out anyone who tried to take her seat.
I firmly believe that if Dr. Billy Graham had sat in her seat, Mrs. Mosley would have told him to move.
However, that old cold Dry Creek Church raised my two sisters and me. Mrs. Mosley, in spite of her gruffness, was faithful as our childhood Sunday School teacher. We were surrounded by a wealth of good country people who helped shape our lives.
Dry Creek is the same church that later mentored my three sons. Even though the location and building (with HVAC) changed, that same church surrounded my boys with Christian love and guidance.
You see, Dry Creek Baptist was never a cold church. It was a warm one.
I now attend a large church, Calvary Baptist in Alexandria. I’ve learned that a big church is really a bunch of small churches. There are multitudes of warm small groups to plug into and feel at home.
However, Calvary can also be a cold church. I was reminded of this last Sunday when I walked through the lobby with my friend Shelia. She had a folded shawl under her Bible.
Our auditorium is large and must be cooled down before it fills up. It can really be chilly, and that’s why Shelia had her shawl.
Calvary has comment cards for feedback. My granddaughter Ellen fills a card out weekly. She recently wrote, “It’s just too cold in this building. I’m going skiing in a few weeks, and it’ll be warmer there than here.
Her father pilfered the card before it could make its way into the suggestion box.
Yes, Calvary can be a cold place. But for seven of my grandchildren (including Ellen), it’s a warm church that is shaping their lives.
I’m so grateful for both of those churches.
Regardless of the size of your church, be involved. And remember: Don’t mess with those shawls.
March 31, 2023