Remembering Religion Fondly Through The Old Church Picnic

Remembering Religion Fondly Through The Old Church Picnic June 2, 2024

Church Picnic outside on the grass
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“By the way, each and every proper southern lady has a biscuit recipe that they were handed from their grandmother.  They are a pinch of love, a pinch of heaven, a lot of butter and a glorious amount of goodness.  And that gravy that is on the top is just the hallelujah chorus of food.  Trust me.  Try a southern ladies’ biscuit.  I would once again describe this in the category of  ‘A hug from the Lord.’” 

Katherine King

Appalachian Allegory

Once Upon a Time, We Had Church Picnics

Today was what reminded me of a time gone by at church. As a child, I remembered the old purple-haired ladies laying out a huge spread. They would have their fans with pictures of Jesus on them, they’d be swattin’ flies off the food and talkin’ about the good Lord. There was nary a glass of unsweet tea to be found. After all, this is the deep south. Unsweet tea was just not Southern at all. 

The Tables Were Filled With Foods That Were a Hug From the Lord

The tables were strewn with every casserole imaginable. Some you just put a spoon full right on to your plate, even if you didn’t actually know the kind of casserole. Fried chicken, butter beans, funeral potatoes and deviled eggs galore. The dessert table was better than any French Pâtisserie you could think of. What was this occasion? It was the annual church picnic. 

A group holding hands together
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Community Was Key

The food was like a hug from the Lord. There was not a smart phone in sight. Now there may have been a little bit of gossipin’, after all Poor Darlene, Bless her heart. She needed prayers. How would the little old ladies know what to pray for unless they shared? Those times will forever be cemented in my head as a wonderfully amazing church tradition. Sometimes after bellies were full and chairs were rocking, the church members would break out in song. “Farther along we’ll know all about it. Farther along we’ll understand why. Cheer up my brother, live in the sunshine. We’ll understand it all by and by.” 

Good Will Was Palpable

Those times felt like unity was palpable in the air. You could cut it like a knife. Politics weren’t swirling, phones weren’t chirping and a small smile from a little old lady made your day. How can we get back to those good traditions? Often we look back on the past with nostalgia and the bad times seem to fade away. But rather than letting them fade away, how about we glean the goodness that can be learned from the past. And heal from the scars that mar our soul?

The Church Picnic Was a Hug From the Lord

That is what the church picnic was for my family today. During church that morning I played the songs of old. When the Roll is Called Up Yonder, When We All Get to Heaven, Beluh Land and We’ll Understand it Better By and By. Music can be a wonderful and soul filling tradition. After we packed the car, we headed to the lake to partake of the glorious Southern Baptist Fare. Nary a morsel was not tasty. As I looked around the room, I thought about how love permeated the space. Acceptance, grace, laughter and non-judgement. We were all there for the good traditions and community. Have we lost sight of this great tradition? I hope not because after having all the hugs from the Lord from food. Our souls were filled with the tradition of baptism in a little lake in the hills of Appalachia.

More people found community.

More people found their space to feel loved and accepted.

Looking at the sunset
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Let Us Embrace Love and Grace

Find your community. Find your hug from the Lord. Let us embrace so much love and grace in the air that you could indeed cut it like a knife in a big thick slice of cake.  I leave you all dear readers with this quote: “Gathered around the table, stories are told, memories are created and love is abundantly grown. The Heaping Harvest

God Bless the Old Church Picnic


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