Getting My Religion
Getting happy came in many forms… from jubilant dances in the aisles to pew-rocking jerks will sitting down. From audible cries with flailing hands to silent tears being wept in as a young mother swayed from side to side. I remember witnessing my mother dabbing her eyes with a tissue many a Sunday morning. One Sunday, I asked her why she cried. All she said was, “You will know when you get older.” She was right.
I remember church revivals being an electric time of the year. Where I grew up, young people were expected to ‘go down and get their religion’. For those of you who do not understand that old time Southern Baptist vernacular, ‘going down to get your religion’ was a very important time in a young person’s life. It figuratively meant you were old enough to recognize the importance of religion and God. It meant you were ready to proclaim yourself a Christian; ready to submit to the Lord. It literally meant going down to the altar. While on your knees, you prayed for forgiveness and invited, asked, begged the Lord into your heart and life. You asked the Lord to save your soul.
At my church, this happened usually during the annual revival while a crowd of other saved people gathered around you, praying and singing... kind of encouraging the Holy Spirit to come into you. And if he came, that was usually demonstrated by a jubilant dance, called shouting or ‘catching the Holy Ghost’.
I was 13 years old when that happened for me. I remember when my best friend, Erica Dewitt, and I decided that it was time for us to ‘go down’. And I prayed, confess, cried and invited the Lord into my life. And he came. It was quite a spectacle to behold.
My grandfather was the only person there to witness my getting my religion. I didn’t tell any of my family that I was doing it. I remember when my cousin Michael Lee went down; he told everybody! I can recall when he announced decisively and confidently to my aunt Vanessa, “Van, I’m going down tonight!” “Really, Mike!” She congratulated him with pride and satisfaction because he had officially come of age; he was old enough to make the decision for himself that he wanted to be a Christian.
I said all that to say this: Where is that good old-time religion? What happened to that good feeling of joy and gratefulness that lead you to momentarily leave yours senses and allow a higher spirit to control you to the point of dancing unabashedly?
When has the last time you heard a child outside of your household proclaim they are going down to the altar tonight, or going to join the church? It’s probably been a while. Do you even have a relationship with a child outside of your own in which they would share such with you?
A lot has changed in the modern church. Instead of driving a few minutes to church, now we drive 20 to 40 minutes because we don’t live in the same community in which we go to church. When we look around the church, we see familiar faces but we don’t know the names. And when church is over, we go home. There’s no more gathering around the front steps fellowshipping. Now we get in our fancy cars and go to Lizard’s Thicket for breakfast for fear of looking like gossips. Remember when there is an event at the church and the entire community came out? Now, mostly members come. The church used to be the center of our community. Do we even have a community anymore?
So, what’s the point of this week’s column? I don’t know. Maybe there isn’t one. I guess I’m just longing for the good old days. Thank you for strolling down memory lane with me. Edit
I'm excited to say that Jesus is Lord in our church! The Holy Spirit flows freely. The anointing of the Holy Ghost comes upon and works through our Bishop and the entire ministerial staff. We sing unto the Lord. Tears flow freely. People shout, dance, or whatever... all because JESUS IS LORD! Before someone even post back saying that 'all of that' is not required to have a true relationship with God, let me just say that I was responding to your question on whether or not it still happens. Yes! Yes! Yes! It still happens and I Love to experience that kind of praise unto God with the Body of Christ! Delete Reply
Hey, thanks for a trip down memory lane and the good ole time memories of being young. I thank God for the Holy Spirit which flows freely in my heart. His Spirit is like fire shut up in our bones therefore, it will cause you to cry, shout, rock, sway, praise and speak in tongues. I am not an authority on religion however, I do know that there are differences and each one of us was exposed to a different upbringing. Therefore, some were conservative and some were as you stated crunk..LOL .. It is so ironic that mine was very conservative then as I became an adult I was exposed to the holiness church and experienced the exuberant mighty burning power of the Holy Ghost. Because of my upbringing I was not about to indulge in all that excessive exuberant behavior. Until, that day when I was filled with the baptism of the Holy Spirit. My life changed and I truly experienced the abundance of his presence that literally I can’t articulate. It was because of that filling that my life has changed, it was because of that filling that I have the desire to live right, treat my neighbor right and the desire to please him and strive daily to live according to his purpose for my life. No I am not perfect but because of his spirit I have a conscience that keeps me. Thanks again for the awakening!! Delete Reply
So well said. On getting religion, you got in right...I remember the shouting by those ladies and men who you knew would be up stomping and praising every Sunday.
I remember Revival week when it was your time to go to the mourning bench each night until you finally jumped up and shouted after praying loudly "Oh Lord, save my soul!"
You had gotten religion! Thank the Lord! What a memory jogger. Appreciate it!
So glad my parents taught all their chldren to know the Lord. He is my All and All.
There is still shouting going on in some churches today. He moves in my church somewhere during the morning worship, as powerful songs of praise and sermon moves many to shout and loudly praise him with that ole time religion spirit. A warm church family where you get to meet and greet as part of the Sunday Service, and thru involvement in the many church auxiliaries, also encourages this spirit. My church is here in Columbia (not a mega church); just big and warm.
Keep wondering and writing and telling it how you see it. Delete Reply
Thank you all for your feedback and comments. The church really was the center of our community years ago. I really miss that. I know we all grew up with different religious experiences. But this was mine and boy am I all the better for it!
For those who experienced something a little more subdued, this may seem a little over the top. But as you see, now as an adult Lisette, there is nothing like that feeling of complete and total surrender and release just for a few minutes!
Yes, the Holy Ghost is still alive and well. I never doubted that. I'm just starting to wonder what's wrong with us (as a people) that we don't want to let him control us... we want to control him. Just wondering... Delete Reply
If you still wondering where the Holy Ghost is, come to New Beginning Baptist Church, 9601 Caughman Road in Columbia. The family connection, the anointing and the joy you use to feel when you were younger is ALIVE!!!
Every Wednesday at 7:30pm is Bible Study to resaturate you with The Word, Sunday at 8:30am is Consecration Service preparing for the Anointing and a time for you to invite the Holy Spirit to come in. We, then go to Sunday School at 9:15am, to understand what we have been reading or hearing all of our live. Lastly, Sunday morning Worship Service at 10:15am (ON TIME) is where YOU thank God for all He has done. When you do this, you can't help but get "Happy and get your praise on"...Shouting included!!!!!!!! You are invite Tee....Tell them Sista'V sent you!!!!! Delete Reply
I can relate for I got my religion during one of those revivals. Unfortunately, there was no teaching that followed the revival. I had to actually get away from that church setting in order to really gain an understanding. I am glad to say that "All things work together for the good of them thst love the Lord and to the called according to His purpose." BEcause I now am the Pastor of one of those churches where the shouting happens every Sunday. The comming to the alter happens every Sunday. People recieving Christ happens every Sunday. And most importantly, there is follow-up and teaching after the fact.
Pastor EJ Delete Reply