Last week leading up to Easter Sunday, I was thinking about Jesus and specifically when did I first fall in love with Jesus? It almost seems like I have always been in love with Jesus and when I actually began to think about it, I think I narrowed it down to a very special, sweet and formulation time in my life.
As a little boy growing up in small town South Carolina, I found myself every Sunday attending church. That’s what everybody did on Sunday, right? At least that is how it seemed to me. On Sundays, I would put on “my Sunday best” and head to see one of my favorite people in the whole wide world – Mrs Dora Williams Or Aunt Dora as I liked to call her. She was not my Aunt, but I love to call her that.
She was our Preschool Sunday School Teacher and every week, she would sit in a rocking chair beside a flannel board and tell us the stories of the Bible by putting little flannel cut outs up on the board as she told us about how God created the Heavens and the earth. She helped us learn about Adam and Eve and how they were tempted and tricked in the Garden Of Eden. She made Noah and the Ark come alive as he marched all those animals two by two into the safety of the Ark, which would save them from the oncoming flood, even though their had been no rain.
One of my favorites was the story of the little shepherd boy David and how with nothing but a sling shot, tiny rocks and a big faith, he took on the giant big bad Goliath and won the battle and the glory for God. I also loved Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego and how they refused to bow down to the King and were thrown into the Fiery Furnace only to survive without even smelling like smoke.
All of these stories straight out of the Bible became alive and very real for me through my imagination because of her story telling and the visual representation as I watched her sweet hands riddled with arthritis gently and lovingly place the characters who would become bigger than life on the flannel board.
Each week, she would not only share with us a story from the Old Testament of the Bible, but would also share a story from the New Testament about the life and love of Jesus the Son Of God. In these stories, I would learn that he was born of a virgin named Mary. That he grew up with Mary and Joseph trying to keep up with him, only to find him teaching his elders in the Synagogue. I watched him call his disciples and felt like I was there as he did miracles like turning water into wine, healed the sick and raised the dead. I still remember how sad I was as she told us about how he died on the cross between two thieves and promised one that “today you will be with me in paradise.”
And then at some point she would put that rock tomb up on the flannel board with a round stone in front of the door. She would tell us how the ladies came early to check on him on the third day, only to find that the stone had been rolled away. The Angels told them: “Jesus is not here, He is risen, come see the place where the Christ did lay!” That would always lead to the question: “Where Is Jesus?”
And where is Jesus? He is in my heart and I am so glad that Mrs. Dora and so many others helped me to fall in love with him, so that one day I would invite Hm in…