The smells would overwhelm quickly as you exited the large, cross embossed glass doors of the American Lutheran Church. The reward only seemed right after the maroon and gold robed choir had finished the classic harmonies that ended with Aaaaamen.
The reverend was done with the before script, the parable, that was sandwiched in the middle, and the after script followed with “Amen”. I’d know that it was getting near the end because of the congregation’s enthusiastic “Amen”, and everybody stood. It was like a wake-up call, and I’d start to anticipate.
“Turn to the hymn on page 171” a voice from ‘up front’ would boom. I never could see where it came from when everyone was standing, and I’d never sat up there!
“Amen,” would come from the whole congregation, in harmony. I would do the “Amens” loudly. It seemed that whatever note I hit was a terrific one!
There were those times when I’d start to awaken at this point, only to be fooled by that slick salesman. Before I realized what was happening, the pastor would be teaching a lesson outside of The Book. He would look at the congregation, and in a friendly tone, would remind us of something that had happened locally. No names would be mentioned, but enough was said so everyone knew what and whom he was talking about. Once in a while, I’d get a little nervous, hoping, it wasn’t going to be about me! It never was.
He would give his Christian opinion of what had happened and what our attitudes should be. As I matured, I realized that we were watching, and he was watching, and HE was watching us in our daily lives. Be good. Amen!
Turn to the hymn on page 133.
The congregation would march out in an orderly fashion. The people in the front would be first to walk down the aisle and out into the, now open to the outside, vestibule. That’s a fancy word for the space between the inner glass doors, and the symbol embossed glass doors to the outside. This is the space where, when the pastor stood, at the outside door, to shake hands, people jammed up, and the line down the aisle between the pews would slow to a crawl.
If you got caught in the people jam, and you are only four feet tall, it was hard to breath. Everyone had different smelly stuff on. Down at my level, it all combined and created a stink. The stink would drive out the good breathing air I needed. The need for “fresh air” drove me to be creative and make a change. It had something to do with “He only helps them that help themselves,” or something like that.
There was a side door in the kitchen that emptied into an alley which took me in the right direction. There was another door to the outside down a short hallway that went passed the pastor’s study. That one made me feel guilty until I was outside and closed the door behind me. I never remember feeling guilty as I walked past the people shaking hands with the pastor!
What I do remember is wondering what the people, leaving that stinky entryway, thought about the heavenly smells coming from up the street. My grandma’s house was only one half a block away. I lived with them.
I was floating toward that smell, barely remembering touching the sidewalk. I could see the house as I rounded the corner of the church. I could see the place where that smell was coming from. I knew the people going to their cars knew where it was coming from, too.
I was so lucky!
I knew that they knew it was Anna’s apple pie. How many excellent sermons ended with that smell? To me, it seemed like the end of something and the actual start to what promised to be a fantastic week.
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