December 9th…“WHAT WERE SUNDAYS LIKE IN YOUR FARM HOME AND THAT OF YOUR CHURCH AND VILLAGE OF KIESTER, MINNESOTA?”
Church bells, in our village of Kiester, Minnesota, communed with one another on a crystal-clear Sunday morning. From one house of worship to another, these bright, brass beauties, from their respective bell towers, called faithful flocks of Christian believers to come praise God each Sunday, the weekly day of rest. From our farmyard, which lay three miles to the northwest of this farming community, the harmonic symphony of those chimes drew my morning stroll to our front lawn area. I could look to the southeast, across the fecund, rich black croplands and hear the beckoning of those massive brass instruments of clarion wonder.
Our matriarchal monarch, Clarice Arlone Sletten Noorlun, faithfully saw to it that her little Norwegian cherubs were properly rubbed, scrubbed and dubbed ready to be slipped into our “Sunday Best” outfits. This weekly ritual had us at the pinnacle of preparation to head to morning worship at our Grace Evangelical United Brethren Church there in our town. Blessings to her heart and memory, our precious mother was determined that we, the next generation of Noorluns, would be trained up in the ways of the Lord. Her spiritual pinning in our lives was foundational as we each made our decisions for Christ and served our Lord in various ways to His glory over the years. Looking back, I actually enjoyed the unique aura of Sundays. With certainty, I’m sure I wormed and squirmed over the process of bathing off my layers of boy dirt. And, of course, there was Mom’s sometimes painful manicure of finger and toenail clippings. Yet, once that weekly “mother mauling” was over with, I enjoyed dressing up for the special occasion of Sunday School and Church.
When the patriarch progenitor of our family needed Mom’s help with a farm chore on a Sunday morning, or when mother wasn’t feeling well, herself; in stepped our “third Grandma”. Genevieve Mutschler (and her husband, Wally) were so loved by our family, that they were revered as another set of parents for our mom and dad, and, like a third set of grandparents for us Noorlun youngin’s. All Mom had to do was give a phone call to Genevieve, whose farm lay just north of ours, and ask her if she could run us kids to church. “Be glad to!!!” chimed Genevieve over the phone to Mom. “I’ll roll up to the end of your driveway in a few minutes.” said our lavender limousine lady. Out to the end of the driveway sister and I walked in our Sunday morning finery. We looked to the north along our county gravel road. Sure enough, Genevieve’s brand-new handsome, lavender 1960 Ford Galaxie would come rolling over the hill and stop right in front of us. What a delightfully cheery church chariot ride we had.
Something that always touched me on these Sunday mornings was the palpable feeling that our farming village truly did have a day of rest. Very few businesses were open on Sundays. The greatest majority of the population in our quaint town were either at church or at home with family taking it easy. What a great Heavenly Father we have who, even though He is complete in His omnipotence, omnipresence and omniscience, still set His loving example for us that is found in Genesis Chapter 2 and Verse 2: “By the seventh day, God completed the work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all the work that He had done.” How loving He was to set an example for His children so that they can rejoice, restore and rejuvenate for an entire day before starting another chapter of life’s routines and work.
Within those hallowed walls of Grace Evangelical United Brethren Church, our local Body Of Christ met and fellow-shipped weekly. We sang praises from the great hymns of our Christian faith, we were nurtured and fed by our pastor from God’s Holy Word, too. Over the years, I was blessed by so many dear saints who ministered to us youngsters in teaching Sunday School each week and many happy and godly memories were inculcated to us with the enjoyable times of Vacation Bible School in the Summers.
I am rich, in so many ways, for having been raised in a godly and loving family. Rich for having had the joys of growing up around a town of kind and tender neighbors who looked out for each other in times of joy and times of need. And, foremost, I’m rich for having been watched over by our loving Lord who knows me intimately and has planned my life from before time began. I find that it’s not just Sunday that is a day of rest, but I can put my full trust in Jesus Christ and rest in Him, knowing that He has only the best planned for this Norwegian Farmers’s Son.