Think way back to when you were a kid in Sunday School. Remember hearing your favorite Sunday School teacher talk about the Bible stories of old? You could imagine Jesus and the disciples walking down all those dusty roads, discussing everything they’d seen and done.
I have so many memories like this from years spent growing up in church. My favorite one has to be when my Aunt Shirley (Sister Shirley to everybody else) and Sister Powell taught us Bible stories using a flannel graph board that sat on a rickety wooden stand with little paper cut out figures of Jesus and all the disciples. They would move the colorful paper “actors” across the board like they were traveling to some distant town, while explaining how people were healed and set free of various diseases and demons. I was mesmerized.
We didn’t have big screens with animation and lights and sound like the computer age has brought us. But they will never replace the simple authenticity of Aunt Shirley and Sister Powell sharing from their hearts while handing out cookies and paper dixie cups of red Kool Aid in that little Sunday School room at the Gravely Apostolic Church.
Reminiscing about those days gone by got my wheels turning — what if Jesus and the disciples, and all those other people in the Bible had been in the South instead of the Middle East? I’ve never been to the Holy Lands, so I can somehow better visualize them in East Tennessee. What would that have been like?
Certainly the miracle healings would have been happening — Jesus is the same no matter what country, century, time zone or time frame. There were a lot of fisherman back then (almost all the disciples liked to throw a line in the water) — another proof positive that the Lord must be a little bit Southern! Fishing is pretty much a way of life in the South too.
I think the scenes where Jesus fed the multitudes might have been a tad different. Southerners love to eat — we’re usually eating or planning what we’re going to eat next. Nearly everything we do here involves food. I can imagine the people sitting around on the hills while they were waiting on Jesus to teach, talking about what they were going to have for lunch. The conversation might have gone a little like this if it had happened in the South:
“Now, I’m gettin’ hungry, y’all. You mean to tell me that we came all the way out here with no food?!”
“Hey Jesus — what’re we having for lunch? Some fried baloney would be real good right about now. Got any pork rinds? Oh, sorry…”
“They got this buffet down at the chicken shack. All the wings and taters you can eat for $5.99.”
The list goes on — there are even more Bible happenings that might have played out a little differently with a Southern spin. Imagine all the lamb casseroles and fig cakes on the table when Lazarus passed away. Jesus got there after Lazarus had been dead a few days, so people had plenty of time to pay their respects with macaroni and cheese. Poor Martha, trying to sort out everything and make sure all the dishes were matched with the right lid. Do you still have to send ‘thank you’ notes if the dearly departed doesn’t stay dead?
If that had happened here, people wouldn’t have laughed and made fun when Jesus said Lazarus was only sleeping. I think the men would have all removed their hats and bowed their heads while somebody played organ music in the background. You have to build up to the big moment. Then there would have been the biggest cook out ever known to man, to celebrate Lazarus coming back to life!
There’s something in a name. Driving around the Southern states, you’ll see plenty of places named after towns in the Bible, like Damascus, Lebanon, Athens, Goshen and Mars Hill. It makes us feel closer to the Lord. I did a search and actually found biblically named towns all over North America (Southerners don’t have a corner on the market). It’s pretty interesting.
I know heaven isn’t divided up between the North and the South, but then again, you might be surprised when you get to the Pearly Gates and hear St. Peter say “ya’ll jump in the truck, we goin’ up to the Big House!”*
So that’s my humorous look at the Bible set in the South. I’m sure my northern friends could offer a different point of view of those stories set above the Mason-Dixon line. I’d love to hear some ideas – feel free to comment!
*line borrowed from comedian, Jeff Foxworthy