One of my earliest memories in my home church was going down stairs to the Sunday School which was held in the basement as our church had burned the year before I was born and they were rebuilding when I was big enough to form memories. Our Sunday School class was in the kitchen of the fellowship hall. I remember a white table and some chairs where we were expected to land between toddler energy spells.
Mrs. Lawhorn was our teacher. She fulfilled a role I came to learn was really important in our church. She was a preacher’s wife. While her husband had been our pastor thirty years earlier, the couple had settled in the community and they were still revered, but no longer the “main” preacher and “wife.” Being in this role required her to dress for the part. You never saw her in anything but the most neat and simple dress. And she always wore a black hat with a flower and net. She smelled of old perfume and treated us with the utmost of kindness. I don’t know how many of us there were, but this lady, who had to be in her 70s at the time, had no problem keeping us in order.
I remember lots of the time in the class was dedicated to playing. I don’t remember many of the things we played with, but I do remember a wooden chicken that you pulled with a red string while it made noises like “Brr-ock”. We weren’t allowed to pull it when the adults were quiet, but when we had the green light, that chicken clucked for all it was worth.
In the times we weren’t playing, Mrs. Lawhorn, with the dress, hat, and perfume, would take each of us aside and talk to us about Jesus. She would tell us a truth about God we were to give back to her, like “God is love” or “Jesus is the Son of God.” Then when our tongues formed the right words, we were awarded with a brand new piece of juicy fruit chewing gum. It was wonderful.
The sweet, comforting flavor of that chewing gum still reminds me of the truth of God. An old preacher named Robert Sheffey used to call him “My sweet Lord.” I can relate. Thank God for the Mrs. Lawhorns, now only a faint memory, but who once enriched the souls of little children with the sweet truth of God.