C 2004 By Gracie Prior
Jimmy’s mom had her hat and gloves on and her envelope purse under her arm. She wore a lovely blue shirtwaist dress with a navy bow at the collar. Jimmy had his suit on again. At Mary’s house, everyone was excited and running around. Brother Mercer was sitting in an armchair reading the Bible. Every so often he looked up with his eyes closed. Mary came into the room and saw Jimmy coming up the walk. She opened the door to him and his mother. She had Bitty under her arm and was looking around for the diaper bag. Mom was gathering up necessities. Mr. Brewster came in and greeted everyone.
Mary was glad to be allowed to go with Jimmy and his mom. Mary handed Bitty to Mrs. Brewster and the others left for the fairgrounds. Terry and Butch were late. Mary checked her pretty chemise dress in the mirror. Just as she was about to call the boys on the phone, they arrived breathless from running. Butch wore a tweed suit and blue shirt. He looked handsome Mary thought. Terry had tan Chinos and a white and navy shirt with a maroon tie. “Wow, you all look great!”
“We should go,” Mrs. Falcon said. They all piled in her blue Buick. It was quite a way to the fairgrounds. So the Scribblers sang their favorite songs.
“Now I would like to teach you a new song,” Mary said. “It’s very easy. It goes like this: ‘Joshua fit the Battle of Jericho, Jericho, Jericho; Joshua fit the battle of Jericho and the walls came tumbling down.’ After we do it a few times, let’s sing it in a round.”
As they sang, they wound around beautiful countryside. There were maple trees and a few pines and lots of low hedges. They saw sheep and cows in the fields. Finally they were at the fairgrounds. They parked way out from the tent and had to walk in. Mary was getting nervous for her friends and full of joy for the wonders about to come.
Inside, Mary gathered her friends and family and they all went down front. A large wire skeleton held up the huge green tent. The ground was covered with sawdust, so people would not slip on the mud. The Brewsters had saved a whole row for them. They were so late that the music started. Two ladies came out with tambourines and played them while singing a joyous song. Mary didn’t know the words, but she clapped along. The others stood up with everyone else and just stared and looked around. Mrs. Falcon clapped along. Jimmy clapped and tried to sing some of the words.
Another singer came on and sang ‘He’s got the Whole World in His Hands.’ Everyone knew that one. Not only did everyone sing, but a huge line formed and wound around the outside of the chairs and people in line clapped and sort of danced up and down. Mary looked at her friends. She smiled. She looked at her mom. “May I?” she asked.
Mother nodded. Mary led out of the row and joined the line. She was so much into the song that she didn’t notice that Jimmy was in line until she turned a corner and saw him way behind. He was singing and dancing. The line slowed down and went to their seats. Then Preacher Brewster stood up and greeted everyone. He prayed and then he announced Brother Mercer, who was quite famous in lower Ohio.
The people became quiet and Brother Mercer read his Scripture: The Prodigal Son. He explained about the younger son’s youthful mistakes, about the older son’s faithfulness, but bitter heart. And he showed movingly how much the father had looked every morning for his lost son. The ending, where the son was greeted and welcomed home was such a moving picture of unconditional love. Then Brother Mercer explained how God is like the generous father in the story. He gave everyone opportunity to pause and meditate, explaining that more would be presented each night and he hoped everyone could come.
There were more songs with tambourines. Then Brother Mercer said that if anyone needed prayer, they could come forward and he would pray for them. Many people came up for prayer. Mary watched. When she was very little, a young girl had been healed of a crooked finger right in front of her. She didn’t see anything unusual this time. The people coming back seemed happy.
Mary glanced at Terry and Butch. They looked lost. Jimmy and his mom were smiling and watching everything that went on.
“When Mary’s group was allowed to get out and go home, Mary dared to ask, “Well, how was it?”
“I can honestly say that I have never seen anything like that in my life,” Terry said. “I might like to come again later in the week. We’ll see.”
“I really don’t know, Mary. It was all pretty weird to me. I mean funny. I mean different. I felt sort of funny. Is that good or bad?” Butch asked.
“Well, it could be either. If you feel funny like it’s getting to you, you need to come back. If you feel funny, like this isn’t for me, I’ll understand if you don’t want to come back.”
“I thought it was lovely, Mary,” said Mrs. Falcon. “Be sure to thank your parents for inviting us. I would like to come back. I’m not sure if I can. Jimmy, you want to come back?”
“Oh, yeah. I want to come every night. Will you take me, Mary?” Jimmy pleaded.
“I would be delighted, sir.” Mary didn’t want to sing on the way home. She just wanted to remember everything she had seen. That was good, because the others were sleeping, well not Mrs. Falcon.
(Be sure not to miss next week. There is danger ahead for one of our dear characters. Who? What will happen? Come and see.)