It won’t be long until Fall revivals will be starting in various neighborhood churches. I love revivals ; because somehow, they touch a chord in my heart and bring forth precious childhood memories. Some folks may remember the “old Brush Arbor meetings” of the past; when folks would erect a shelter using fresh cut brush that was piled on top of a support of poles or whatever, making a pretty good roof, planks were situated in rows, supported by pieces of logs, creating pews.
Preaching services would start just before sundown and what services they were. Folks would come by horse-back, wagons, on foot to hear that Country preacher preach from that worn old Bible; and preach he did!
I remember as a small child, going to a brush arbor meeting at Stephens Chapel. There was a big crowd as we took our seats in the lantern light, there was an air of excitement and expectation. That preacher came down the aisle wearing a long black coat and black hat with his Bible under his arm. He had an aura of mystic about him, of reverence, if you will, as he stood on the podium or make-shift pulpit. His eyes shown like coals of fire as he gazed across the crowd gathered there.
Everyone leaned forward to catch his first words. Soft as a whisper, he said, “Brothers and sisters, we’s all jest sinners… only thing is… see… some of us is saved… the mercy of the Lord… and you-ins out thar that don’t know the Lord, you needs to come up here at this altar tonight and get on ye knees and ask the Lord fer mercy… to forgive ye and accept Jesus as ye savior.”
“REPENT!” he yelled at the top of his lungs and everyone (including me) jumped. From then on, he stomped; he pranced; he shouted! It was exciting to see and hear that old gentleman preach the “old time” Fire and Brimstone message for nearly an hour and probably would have kept on except a storm began to brew. Thunder rumbled and the preacher gave his altar call.
Several came up to the homemade altar and knelt for prayer, weeping. Several elderly ladies “shouted” and meanwhile, that storm kept getting closer and louder.
In a short time, the winds came up and everyone figured we were in for a good soaking.
Some of the branches overhead in the Arbor began to shake and blow and I was a bit scared.
But there was no need; for that ol’ preacher stood up there in front, arms outstretched, face upward and prayed -and you know what? That storm just kinda blew over - rained only a sprinkle, really.
After a lot of singing, handshaking and smiling, folks went their separate ways, and the lanterns were snuffed and it was quiet and dark once more.
But folks went home feeling an uplifting of their spirits and I wish we had more of that these days - and I long for that sweet fellowship that neighbors and friends had back then. I know one thing for sure; there was something special about that old Brush Arbor Meeting that night. I have never forgotten it. I hope I never will.
Till next time.