Walking down the wide basement steps through the “Fellowship Hall” led to the right room with two or three rows of brown wooden chairs made to fit three-, four-, and five-year-old girls and boys dressed in Sunday best dresses or shirts with ties and dress pants.
After singing “Only a Boy Named David”, “Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam” and other favorite choruses, we divide into age-related Bible classes. Flannel graph characters were moved around to help bring the Bible story to life. Sometimes we even got to help put the paper cut-outs up on the board.
Then a coloring page that told the story again and a Sunday School paper were handed out when we met our parents for church.
The first part of the service went quickly in my little-girl time frame. Organ music smoothed the transition from the end of Sunday school with our pent up energy trying to wriggle out into the quiet worship service. Even before I could read, I would sing along on the choruses of the old-time gospel hymns. The few verses of Scripture were usually followed by a choir anthem, dreaming of singing along when I was old enough to stay for the Wednesday night practice.
But the sermon got long, and I got fidgety. Sometimes Dad would let me look at the photos in his wallet. Sometimes I’d page through the hymnal, without any reading skills. Drawing in the margins of the bulletin would pass some time.
But my favorite memory was when Mom would pull out the twin-babies-in-a-hammock.
Actually, it was a pretty cloth hanky. She would quietly guide me through each step.
Smooth the hankie into an even square.
Make a diagonal fold.
Roll each small edge toward the middle, as tightly as possible.
When they meet in the middle, you are ready for the trickiest part.
While keeping the “babies” tightly rolled, fold the rolls in half.
The pointed edge should have two open sides. Slip your finger between the two layers.
If you are lucky, and are careful not to pull too hard, the two babies will be asleep in their cradle.
Eventually I learned how to make the folds and rolls by myself, though the babies were loose and quickly fell out of their little hammock. I’d quietly beg Mom to make the babies.
Not everything that happens in worship is about increased knowledge. A friend had boys who were about the age of my oldest daughters. She taught me that children remember the feelings they had when they attended Sunday school and church. And those emotions are stronger than the lessons of the Bible stories.
These hankie babies are warm, snuggly memories for me. And I’m passing them on to my grandchildren and to you.