I was not the best student in school.
There was one school where I excelled and it was vacation Bible school.
Today, Bible school comes in a box. It is packaged with everything you might need. It comes with clever names such as “Kingdom Rock, where kids stand strong for God,” and “SonWest Roundup, a rip-roaring, good time with Jesus.”
I don’t know if we had a theme, but what we did have was marching. I mentioned this to someone at a Bible school a few years ago.
“It is too militaristic,” the nice lady said to me.
There are many things I cannot remember from my childhood, but I do remember my heart was about to beat out of my chest when we stood outside the church getting ready to march in. We marched to songs such as “Onward Christian Soldiers” and “We’ve a Story to tell to the Nations.”
Usually, my Mama would buy me a new pair of PF Flyers and I wouldn’t wear them until the first morning of Bible school. They were complimented by a new pair of camp shorts, the kind with hooks for knives and such, although we knew it was a sin to carry a knife to Bible school and would never do that.
We marched in and sat on the pews. Then, it was time to play that down-up chord pattern, which signaled us to stand up. We pledged allegiance to the American flag, the Christian flag and the Bible.
A few years later, I was asked to carry the Bible for the marching ceremony. I held it as high as I could as my fellow Bible school students pledged allegiance to the Bible and made it “a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path and will hide its words in my heart that I might not sin against God.”
I don’t know if that qualifies as “rip-roaring,” but I sure do remember every word nearly 50 years later.
I learned about Daniel in the lion’s den and Joseph and his coat of many colors. I remember when a nice lady brought her Singer sewing machine with the zigzag stitch and made us each a coat of many colors. Really, it was a kind of tunic of many colors, but I have that story deep in my heart and won’t soon forget it, zigzag stitch and all.
I also remember snack time, which featured Kool-Aid and butter cookies. There was a competition to see who could take the most bites out of their butter cookie before it fell off of their pinky finger.
We made pictures of our family using images from the Sears Roebuck catalog. I created quite a stir when I selected a blonde from the lingerie pages to portray my Mama.
“Honey, don’t you want to pick a lady in a dress?” the teacher asked.
“No ma’am,” I replied. “Mama doesn’t have any of those dresses, but she has some underwear like that lady.”
I think we stuck to making paper scrolls, birdhouses and things made out of yarn in future years.
Our teachers filled our minds with stories and images of Jesus, while we used our vivid imaginations.
Now that was a rip-roaring good time.
Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose columns appear on the Sunday Life page and on gainesvilletimes.com/harris.