Give Me That Old Time Religion

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Religion and Spirituality  |  House: Booksie Classic

I remember the good old days, back when religion and God was still a personal and moving experience, and not a multi-plex or video show occurrence. Back when people dressed up in their “Sunday best,” and Sunday sermons were words uttered with emotion and not just videos on giant screens with words to read and visuals to see. Give me that old time religion.

GIVE ME THAT OLD TIME RELIGION

By Al Garcia

I remember the good old days, back when religion and God was still a personal and moving experience, and not a multi-plex or video show occurrence.  Back when people dressed up in their “Sunday best,” and Sunday sermons were words uttered with emotion and not just videos on giant screens with words to read and visuals to see.  Give me that old time religion.

I remember going to Sunday school and learning to be good.  I remember being mesmerized by simple stories of love and miracles and the magic of dreaming and praying and believing.  It was such a simple time – to close our eyes and thank the Lord and then get up and go along our usual way.  Give me that old time religion.

I remember the church we used to have – beautiful and serene, holy in every way for a child or for a man or woman of any age.  The windows were stained with colors of every hue and shade, some stained a yellow gold that reflected on the wood-stained pews, and the ceiling so high I that would look up and my head would spin.  Long solid wooden pews lined up in rows, a pulpit and three large thrown-like chairs adorned the alter, behind which a giant glass-stained picture of Jesus cradling a little lamb adorned almost the entire wall, with the sun shining through to light up the souls within.  Give me that old time religion.

I remember the beauty of the building itself -- like a Spanish hacienda with a veranda running along one side into a garden, green and lush.  The coolness of a Sunday morning breeze always found beneath the clay-baked tiles that covered the roof.  The epitome of what a church should be – beautiful, grand and welcoming to all.  Give me that old time religion.

I remember most of all the family within the walls that surrounded me each Sunday morning when I was taught to praise the Lord.  It was a gathering of everyone I knew and some I’d never met.  There was no separating by who you were, where your family was from, how much money you might have, or the color of our skin.  It was the gathering of souls, intent on giving praise and giving thanks, and that was all.  Give me that old time religion.

I remember people singing and praying and uttering a hallelujah and a “Praise the Lord.”  I remember the pastor speaking from the pulpit, loud and clear and firm in every word he uttered and ever phrase he spoke, all giving praise where it belonged.  And for a child my age back then, it was a long and rambling cacophony – a mixture of words and sounds that sometimes made me sleepy and even startled me awake at times.  Give me that old time religion.

I remember those times as a child and the old El Buen Pastor Methodist Church in Edinburg.  I remember its history that began in 1880.  It all began with a minister traveling on horseback along the Rio Grande, ministering to those in need on both sides of the river.  Give me that old time religion.

I remember learning of how our church came to be.  I learned about the early 1900s, when fifteen or so individuals began meeting in each other’s homes for Sunday morning worship.  I learned how the congregation soon began to grow and how a few years later they purchased an old abandoned theater, El Teatro de Edinburgo, and officially organized into the United Methodist group and named the church, El Buen Pastor.  Way before my time.  But the faith was strong back then.  It was a time when sometimes only faith could help you make it through each day.  Times were hard, and life for many Mexican descendants along the Rio Grande was even harder and sometimes even crueler and meaner.  And it was that old-time religion that sometime was the only thing that kept hearts and souls alive with hope and expectation.  Give me that old time religion. 

I remember being told how families in the early and mid-1920s finally purchased the land and built the structure that eventually became the church that stands today.  A testament to their unquestioning belief in something greater than themselves.  An acknowledgement that they were not alone and would persevere and endure, despite the obstacles they faced.  Give me that old time religion.

I remember those days growing up along the Rio Grande and hearing the stories of how it all came to be.  Of how a simple man on horseback brought hope and dreams to those in need along the Rio Grande, just like someone back in olden times had done along the River Jordan by the Sea of Galilee.

How things have changed from when I was a child.  How religion has been transformed and reformed to accommodate the times and not the other way around.  Give me that old time religion.

I see edifices beyond imagination on grounds that kings and queens would have envied and coveted.  I see alters to the Almighty adorned in gold and jewels and silks that once would never have been seen next to the simple wooden cross that symbolized the simplicity of faith.  Give me that old time religion.

I see large screen monitors, amplifiers and microphones, where once a simple voice, loud and clear would have sufficed to preach and spread the word of God.  Give me that old time religion. 

I see the men of God attired in silk and golden robes, when once the son of God wore but a simple cotton wrap, unadorned and unburdened by the trappings of human greed.  Give me that old time religion.

I see ministers and pastors exiting from luxury limousines, where once a simple man walked the roads and climbed the hills to spread the word.  Give me that old time religion.

I see multi-million-dollar mansions with sprawling gardens, golden fixtures, swimming pools and garages to house the luxury cars and boats and other toys, that house the men devoted to the word.  I see household maids, butlers, gardeners and pool boys paying homage to those that wear the purple robes.  Give me that old time religion.

I see private airplanes of every type and size, equipped with all the luxuries that you and I will never see or have, transport the self-proclaimed divine to their waiting flocks.  Give me that old time religion.

I hear the words that emanate from church alters across the land -- give with all your heart and soul so that a new car, a bigger airplane or larger mansion may be purchased or obtained.  And then, maybe along the way, I’ll finally hear a word or two about the Lord and why we’re even in the house that once belonged to God.  Give me that old time religion.

I remember growing up and believing in the word of God.  It was easy to believe back then, when simple men with simple clothes, who drove up in simple cars, would join with simple folks and preach and spread the word of God.  Give me the old-time religion.

I know, and I have seen a few of God’s true messengers that still remain so true to faith and to themselves and us.  But they are few and far between, I fear to say.  Some things should not be changed to accommodate the whims and tides of time.  Religion is one of them.  Simplicity is what faith is all about.  Simply to believe and to be true to Him and to his word and way of life.  Mansions, limos, airplanes and champagne do not define, explain or depict the meaning, the purpose or the reason why so many of us believe.  It is all about a simple man, a simple truth, and a simple belief.  It is all about having faith in something greater than ourselves.  It is not about adorning the golden calf or kneeling before man-made idols or ideas that ask for riches and for treasures for the flesh.  For this too shall pass, and all we’ll have to show for the life that we have led, will be what we have kept and cherished within our simple soul.

Give me that old time religion.  It was good enough for Him.  It’s good enough for me.


Submitted: June 06, 2021

© Copyright 2021 A.Garcia. All rights reserved.

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