Come along with me to Heaven for an imaginary visit: it is now the “year” 2050 and I have been here quite a while and, although we don’t count “years” in the heavens, I use them as reference point for mere “earthlings.”
I have been watching—whenever I am off-duty from polishing harps and clanging cymbals—some of the churches down there in Waco. One, in particular, is of interest: The DaySpring Church, near Lake Waco. Yes, the lake is still there, although difficult to make out clearly from Heaven because of all the discarded HEB plastic bags, dead fish and rotting boats.
About the “year” 2035, an unusual phenomenon occurred at DaySpring: a small cigar-shaped box was place in the narthex, just underneath a large painting of an oak tree. Inside the box was the right and left big toe knuckles of two former pastors, with their names engraved on the box and part of Romans 10:15 “How beautiful are the feet of those….” The names of the pastors were Saint Erickson and Saint Burlikson, although it is not our heavenly intention to draw attention or lend homage to any relics down there.
However, we must be truthful: upon entering the sanctuary, parishioners were allowed (some would say encouraged) to touch the box or bow slightly before it. It was not done by everyone—indeed, some people were inwardly exasperated that the box was in the narthex and not in the chapel, where other relics and trinkets were kept.
For in the chapel was one of St. Sid’s shoes, the right one, which he always used to tap out his offertory pieces on the piano. Also, hanging on the wall was the wand that one of the music directors had used to direct the choir. It was made of ivory and had been carved with great precision by the former owners of the “Silos.” I should also mention the cane and walker that had been used by an ancient and well-respected member of the congregation. These hung on the wall of the chapel, where once a cross had been. Just why this was done is not clear, even to us in Heaven, but it seems that the cane represented Leviticus 27:32, where every tenth animal passed under the shepherd’s rod and the walker symbolized the chariots that were submerged in the Red Sea.
To the right was a large glass enclosed diorama of various ancient, but sacred items: the ukulele once played by St Dale of Baroon, a hymn book opened to page 368 (or 563, the pages were faded and there were arguments about it every Sunday), a microphone, once spoken into by the head of the Baptist Convention, a King James Bible (autographed by President George Bush of Crawford, Texas), a pressed bluebonnet (planted by Lady Bird), a piece of sod from the original parking lot.
The people still drank coffee, especially on Sunday mornings, and a large wooden carved coffee mug, gifted originally by a St. Harvison, who once held the record for the most cups (mugs) of coffee consumed during a Sunday sermon.
Near the children’s Sunday school rooms—and there seemed to be dozens of them—was a collection of pencils that St. Joel had used in his sketches. Children were encouraged to draw with them and at least one such child had become a famous artist. The pencils were not magical, simply inspirational.
The pieces in the chapel were well-preserved and taken to the baptismal pool once a year for a ceremonial cleansing—a simple yet sacred act.
Within the sanctuary the “Seven Stations of the Cross” had been replaced by “The Seven Seasons of Texas,” with pictures of bluebonnets, football teams and pizza parlors.
I also noticed the “Bell Tower,” a modest edifice that of course had a bell in it, but also had inscribed the names of all the parishioners who had died. There were so many names that it was impossible to hear the bell ring, some names larger than others, but I was assured that it had nothing to do with the amount of their regular tithes or offerings.
Near the entrance to the Church on Renewal Road was a flashing neon sign that said, “No parking near the oak trees” and “Please give way to the handicapped.”
I was quite amazed at what I had seen and decided to question some of the former church members. I quickly found a wise person, a former Church Council member it turned out, and asked: Is DaySpring still a Baptist church? Why do they have relics and assorted religious stuff? Don’t they know what the Bible says about idols?
The wise person—a venerated Texan—spoke slowly and with a decided drawl. “We-all,” he said, “We Babdists had some larnin’ to do, so we invited some of those Katlicks for a meetin or two. They showed us that it ain’t rong to look at those things and remember other things.”
We don’t argue in Heaven and we certainly don’t discuss relics and things, (or one’s logic) so I let it go at that. But I will be keeping my eye on that part of Waco in the future. Lots of things start out like simple stories and become part of the local religious lore.
Even Baptists can leave the narrow Renewal Way.
Upon hearing a Bible study discussion