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James R. Stout

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Time Travel In A Little Country Church

I found out that time travel is possible. It didn’t take Einstein to figure it out either. All it took was for me to bear witness to an event that was quite endearing and a complete blessing to my heart. The little church that my mother grew up in recently had it’s 150th Anniversary. They have always called it “The Homecoming” and I attended many of them during the late 50’s and throughout the 60’s. My mother’s great-grand-fathers, from both sides of her parent’s families, had been the founders of the little church back in 1862. At different times during the first 40 years or so of the church both of them served as the preacher. I grew up hearing about many events that happened at the church. It was my great honor to read to those assembled today some of the memories of the church that my mother had written down. Mom has never liked to speak in public and asked me if I would read them for her. I was more than happy to do so.

Some of the memories included some funny things about church-going before air-conditioning, hardwood pews with no cushions, and tales of baptism’s in one or the other member’s “tank” (a small pond for the cows to you city folk) by lantern light, and life in general before things got crazy. No homecoming at Pleasant Grove Baptist Church is complete without a good old-fashioned “singing” or singin’ as we call them. Today was no different. About 50 years ago my mother, father, and two-sisters had a little gospel quartet and they sang for one of the homecomings. I guess I was too young then, but I showed them! 

A gospel quartet came and sang today and the little church’s rafters were shaking and quaking. They were truly a good old-fashioned southern gospel group. I was surprised to learn that the bass singer graduated from the same high school that I did only he was 14 years earlier than me. They sang some great old songs like “The Old-Rugged Cross”, “This World Is Not My Home”, “Amazing Grace”, “It Is Well With My Soul”, “I’ll Fly Away”, and perhaps one of my parent’s favorites, “Victory In Jesus”. I sat there beside my parents and watched them grow young again. Young at heart at least. My mother reached over and took my father’s hand as they sang loudly the words to “Victory In Jesus”. Mom is 87 now and Dad passed away a little over a year ago. They were married two weeks shy of 68 years. They both had tears in their eyes by the end of the song. I looked around the room, where only about 50 people sat - most of them in their 70’s or older ( it has been a long time since I was one of the youngest people in a room!), and I could see the pure joy that they felt singing those old songs. The quartet had come equipped with a P.A. system, electric piano, drums, and so forth. That little church may never be the same again! I know time travel is possible because there must have been 25 people there today that haven’t been able to hear for years and today they could hear loud and clear and their hearts were young again! 

I realized after witnessing this blessing we called “The Homecoming” that it was just a small snapshot of what all Christians will partake of when we have our final homecoming. That is going to be glorious day indeed. The little church in the woods where so many memories are housed is a humble little church. The building itself is more functional than it is attractive. There’s no fancy alter, no gloriously lit chandelier, no TV cameras, no choir of 800 souls, nothing that bears the marked of a so-called “mega” church of today. But God was in that little church today. Jesus promised this when he said, “For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.” - Matthew 18:20. 

I am so very thankful that I was raised in a Christian home with parents who love Jesus and taught me about Jesus. In many ways, they still do. We must never forget that those who go ahead of us teach us lessons long after we become adults. My parents have taught me how to grow old and appreciate this life that is such a gift no matter how hard it may seem at times. If you are blessed to still have your parents in your life, then call them up and tell them thank you. Tell them how much you love them. Because one day you will live on without them, even if for only a little while, and you may sing the words to my Dad’s favorite old gospel song, “If I could hear my mother pray again. If I could hear her tender voice as then. So glad I’d be, would mean so much to me. If I could hear mother pray again.”

God Bless,

James R. Stout


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