Tag Archives: sunday school

Memory Lane: A Boy’s Fedora

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When I was ten or 11 years old, somewhere around there, my mother bought my brother and me these little fedoras to wear to Sunday school.

How I loathed that hat! Most men wore them, back then. Our family doctor had one, which I tossed into the toilet when he wasn’t looking. And now I had one. A fleeting glance at the mirror convinced me that I looked like a total yink.

How many times did I leave it in the cloakroom and emerge from Sunday school without it, claiming it had mysteriously disappeared? My father always made me go back in and get it. I left it in the kids’ cloakroom, in the adults’ cloakroom. Even left it in the church’s kitchen once.

After several dozen attempts to ditch the hat, it finally dawned on my parents that I just simply couldn’t stand it. I don’t remember exactly what they did with it; it only mattered that the stupid thing was out of my life. I mean, really! Mark and I were the only kids in the whole church who had those hats, and all the other kids snickered at us when they saw us.

And no, I wouldn’t wear one today, either. And at my age, you don’t have to.


Unforgettable Images… from the Bible

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In Damascus the governor under Aretas the king kept the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desirous to apprehend me: and through a window in a basket was I let down by the wall, and escaped his hands.     St. Paul, 2 Corinthians 11:32-33

In one of my earliest years in Sunday school–I think I might have been seven years old, or possibly six–our teacher used to teach from a printed handout that we could take home with us, a different one each week. Each one was illustrated with a large, color picture of the Bible story described in the lesson. I don’t remember being able to read these: the teacher or a family member (usually my Uncle Bernie) had to read it to me.

But I remember some of those pictures as if I’d only seen them yesterday. Remembered them for all this time. I guess you’d have to say they were an effective teaching tool.

Among the lessons I remember best was Paul’s escape from Damascus, after they were going to arrest him for preaching the Gospel there: how all the gates of the city were watched, so the disciples helped him get over the wall by letting him down in a basket. Probably a laundry basket.

No Greek or Roman historian would have recorded such a thing. It was undignified! What kind of hero has to escape his enemies in a basket? And if it did happen, the sooner it could be forgotten, the better.

But the Bible is true.

Do you honestly think this story of the basket would be in there, if it wasn’t true? Was that any way to pump up the stature of the leaders of the early church? “Wow, I wanna join! When the cops came for the leader, he got away in a laundry basket!” Yeah, right.  You couldn’t tell that story in a presidential campaign, unless you were telling it about your opponent.

Think about that. If you read the Bible and are familiar with its content, you’ll run out of time before you run out of examples.


Sunday School Favorite: ‘Yield Not to Temptation’

I wonder how many times we sang this hymn in Sunday school. I don’t know why, but every hymn I hear today moves me practically to tears. I think I’m responding to God’s goodness, of which we all stand so much in need. So here it is–Yield Not to Temptation, Nathan on the mandolin, Lyle on guitar.


‘He Leadeth Me’ (Choir)

I know I’ve posted this hymn before, but today it was the hymn that kept me company as I made the bed, so here it is–He Leadeth Me, sung by the Sanctuary Choir at the First United Methodist Church, Houston. This does bring back fond memories of Sunday school.


‘Wonderful Words of Life’

How many times did we sing this in Sunday school? Probably never anywhere near as sweetly as the kids at Fountainview Academy. I still play it on my harmonica sometimes: Beautiful Words of Life. Wow, that brings me back…


Encore, ‘Trust and Obey’

How this takes me back to Sunday school! Trust and Obey, lovely old hymn from 1887: I do wish I knew what choir this is, singing it so beautifully, so I could give them proper credit.

I have a feeling that if one truly can trust in the Lord and obey Him, one has accomplished very much.


Memory Lane: Out of School for ‘Religious Instruction’

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Before “Diversity” became a shibboleth, and a not-so-subtle way of sneaking around the Constitution’s prohibition of religious tests, we actually had something like real diversity in our sixth-grade classroom.

Back then, you could be excused from school to attend “religious instruction.” The Catholic kids got out early on Friday afternoons. I don’t remember when the Jewish kids got out. As a Protestant kid, I didn’t get out at all. We had nothing called “religious instruction”–we just had Sunday school. On Sunday.

I was jealous of the Catholic kids, because as far as I could tell, there was nothing that made them any different from us Protestants, except that they had to have fish on Fridays. Why should they get a break from that stalag known as Franklin School?

But the Jewish kids went to Hebrew School, and that was a lot more interesting! Neil Katz, who sat in the desk behind mine, used to let me leaf through his Hebrew book–which of course I could not read, because it was in Hebrew. I did know it had something to do with the Bible. There was something very cool about this.

And if there were any more exotic religious traditions represented by anyone in our class, the subject just never came up. I wouldn’t have known about it, if there were.

It’s only when “Diversity” is insisted upon from above that it begins to shrivel down below.


‘I Love to Tell the Story’ (Alan Jackson)

Another Sunday school favorite, I Love to Tell the Story. I can still see Mrs. Raleigh seated at the piano (she was also the superintendent), still hear her playing this, and us kids singing it, soon to go on to the secondary Sunday school department (no more sandbox!)…

I like the way Alan Jackson sings it, rich and mellow, making it ring true.


Sunday School Favorite: ‘Yield Not to Temptation’

From 1868, by Horatio Palmer, comes this classic hymn, Yield Not to Temptation–sung by the Johnson children, Jeffreay, Kayla, Ryan, and Jennifer.

If you never catch yourself humming or whistling this hymn, you never went to Sunday school.


‘O Safe to the Rock’

O Safe to the Rock, by William O. Cushing, was written in 1876. Here we have it for you a la Sunday school: just the printed lyrics and the lady playing the piano. You can sing along.

A reminder: anyone who wants a hymn posted here, just say so. The hymn shop is always open.


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