IN THE FASHION OF RATHMOLYON
‘Bout early May* or so they start to gather up for preps,
Older workers, middle-aged and new ones taking steps.
They gather on a farm away from all the city noise;
Whatever age they’ll always be ‘the girls’ and ‘the boys’.
They work all week and Saturdays they bring in all the ‘friends’,
It seems no matter how much help, the work just never ends.
They’ll scrub the kitchen floor and walls, wash all the dishes too,
They’ll clean the barn for ‘friends’ to sleep and disinfect the loo.
They’ll set the tent or meeting shed with benches row on row,
They’ll clean the yard and trim the trees and let the flowers grow.
They’ll drain the pond and clear the muck and lay the gravel down,
They’ll stock up on the groceries, they’ll buy out half the town.
Six weeks later everything just seems to be in place,
The workers stand and scan the grounds, a smile upon each face.
The health inspector comes around, makes sure they’ve got it made;
He hangs a paper on the wall; “Camp Christian” makes the grade.
Convention time has finally come, they’ve laboured long and hard,
So now they’ll spend four days, four nights, confined within the yard.
On Tuesday, workers visiting from other states and lands
Arrive upon ‘the grounds’; beaming smiles and shaking hands.
By Wednesday afternoon the crowds so rapidly increase
Tents and trailers, motor homes and sleeping bags of fleece.
A list is posted on the wall for young and old to choose;
All types of jobs from serving food to dumping out refuse.
As they gather in for supper they see ‘friends’ from near and far
Who have come here to convention to again get up to par.
‘The barn’ that night is full of chatter, young adults and teen
Telling what the year has held since each other last they’ve seen.
A worker walks on through the barn, “lights out, it’s time for bed,”
As soon as he walks out the door, no pillow rests a head.
This chitter-chatter carries on ’til all must fall asleep,
Then bright and early all get up to either serve or eat.
After breakfast dishes done and all the tables set,
They gather for the meeting in the crowd that’s silent yet.
The brother workers on one side, the sisters on the other,
The platform holds a place for two; visiting and local brother.
“Thank you for the quietness prior to the meeting
It helps to get our spirits right, the Lord can hear our pleading.”
“We’ll sing a hymn,” the speakers boom, “one hundred seventy-six.
‘We Come Apart’, a fitting choice, again: one seven six.”
After this, we’ll have a time of prayer from the crowd,
Please be sure to stand up tall and say it nice and loud.”
Some get up and mumble, let the words run down their chin
While others shout it out so loud, your head begins to spin.
The worker on the platform prays, then picks another hymn
Then we hear a few short words from sister worker Kim.
A sermon from the platform then the crowd will sing again,
Then it’s open meeting, testimonies, time to wrack your brain.
“Time for a few, let’s keep it short, to the point and brief,”
A few get up and vow this year they’ll turn over a new leaf.
“I’m glad for what we heard today about the potter and the clay,
I just long my life could be more faithful in the way.”
Another one gets up and just goes on and on and on,
‘Til all get a little fidgety and some begin to yawn.
“Enough for now, we’ll leave it there, stand and sing a hymn,
Then visiting us from Africa is our dear brother Jim.”
He must be over seventy, he looks so old and frail
But the words that flow forth from his mouth are anything but stale.
He tells of how he left his home, saw fields the Lord must reap,
Spent his life in Africa, ‘mongst what he calls ‘Black Sheep’.
“We’ll sing again but this time when we come to verse two’s end
Dismiss the kitchen and dining help, thanks for the hand you lend.”
The crowd moves from the meeting to a spot across the yard
Where they all must wait for dinner prepared so long and hard.
This whole scene is re-enacted many times in those four days
Except the night of Saturday; recruitment of the strays.
The sermon bores deep in your soul, the heights and depths of fear;
Those who turn against the Lord could die within the year.
Hearts are beating faster, eyes shift left and right
Looking for at least one soul to make their choice tonight.
Sunday after breakfast as they gather ’round the pond,
They watch baptism there take place, with the Lord they’ll bond.
Evening comes and most are gone back to the world of sin;
They’ll try to shed a little light of what they felt within.
Rathmolyon, Ireland, a hundred years ago,
The first convention ever held by ‘Truth’ was quite a show.
Riots in the streets, hundreds baptised in the way
As ‘black stockings’ and ‘Tramp Preachers’ made the papers of the day.
ONE HUNDRED YEARS have passed, now things go quiet and discreet,
Revolts and secrets buried with the men who caused the heat.
But is it gone? Oh no my friends, the truth has come to light
And one by one the Two-by-two’s will leave the land of night.
By Scott, April 21, 1998
*Convention months and days vary from country to country
Stiletto heels, lace and frills, men in suit and tie,
Neatly dressed in Sunday best, you pass the neighbours by
“Going to a wedding? they ask, as I grab my daughter’s arm
“No we’re off to convention,” I say, “in a tent on a cattle farm.”
Now we’ve arrived ahead of time, to find a seat that’s good
But pillows and blankets cover the most, too late, that’s understood
The meeting fills up, all heads spin round, to see what they can see
And then the silence fills the tent, as all wait patiently.
The platform preachers take their seats, the whisperings begin,
He’s visiting from Washington State, we’re lucky to have HIM
Now, opening meeting for a few, perhaps just for eight or nine
And thirty two jump up instead, shivers go down your spine
“Now that’s enough for now” he says, you’ll have to be real brief
Just then another soul pops up, you sigh in disbelief
Mrs. Richard’s shaking so, “I never would be here,
If it was not for the sacrifice, of those two servants, dear”
Next one has a lengthy story of just before the war
How two workers came his way, in 1934.
The sun’s now risen in its strength, it’s hard to now endure
The blending of Channel No. 5, with cow and pig manure.
The worker now from Washington has preached away an hour
And you’re rehearsing all the tricks to give you waking power
Keep your mind upon the speaker, get absorbed in what he’s saying
Don’t allow your eyes to wander, or your head from gently swaying
That’s the time you’ll lose your balance, and your eyes will gently close
What you thought a normal reflex, turns into a steady doze
Now and then you watch the speaker, but his face becomes a blur
Then your books crash to the floor, creating quite a stir.
So, you pick them up quite startled, don’t let anybody know
Meanwhile, everyone was watching, as your head swayed two and fro.
Now a candy always rescues, slumbering souls in dire despair
So you reach down in your pocket, but alas! it isn’t there
Sure, it’s stuck down in the lining, after all, it’s hot you know
And that so-called precious “life saver,” is real stuck, it won’t let go
Now this last resort is priceless, “Ever slept when froze with fear?”
Start imagining what you’d look like if you’d land on someone near
Or be sprawled out in the aisle there, everyone thought you had died
And they quickly clamour all at once, to drag the corpse outside
Well, the final moment comes at last. We’ll sing hymn Two eight oh
And after verses one and two, we’ll let the waiters go
Revival comes, the audience, has heard the dinner bell
The stew aroma fills the air and casts its magic spell
After dinner, lots of time to visit, with the folks
Little circles, cliches are forming laughing, telling jokes.
“Now did you pick up on Suzanna?” short, disgraceful skirt,
She’s just here to find a husband, she’s just a little flirt”
“Look at Jim, now he’s all eyes too, widower for just a year,
Probably looking for another, so repulsive, dear, dear, dear.
“There’s old Sam, he never makes it to a meeting anytime
But he shows up at convention, just a free place he can dine.
Oh, dear friends, this may seem funny, as you read line after line
But it grieves our Heavenly Father, who is watching all the time.
As He looked upon Jerusalem, and He wept to see their plight
Blindness veils their understanding, How He longs to give them sight
Just you think about YOUR children, they can ne’er exhaust your love,
Pray, please pray that God will touch them, send reveal from above.
By Sheila (De Jager) Martin
Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada
Passed away May 2005
Ah, “Convention fever”, I remember it well…
That special time at the end of the year.
We gathered together–from both far and near
To hear new workers and greet old friends
The spiritual “Year’ had come to an end.
Convention was a special place
A place away from the world
A place where nothing from outside was included
No music, no radios, no newspapers intruded.
Our boys were dying in Viet Nam
Riots happened all over the land–
Folks “of color” from buses were banned
But conventions were what God had planned.
Some conventions are in very hot places
Tents are like steam baths–there are many wet faces!
Others are located in cool, rainy spots
Water dripping down tent poles, collecting in pots.
The best part was sleeping away from home
In barns and tents, and on bouncy straw ticks.
So proud we were when the sister worker said
With our moms, we no longer had to share a bed!
And, Oh, the smells I will never forget
Never have smelled anything better yet!
No one can make macaroni or hash,
Or beef and gravy like those cooks in the tent.
Though those memories are of long ago
It’s still hard to let them go
As summer approaches I still remember
With fond nostalgia, that old “Convention Fever.”
By Rosalie (Millar) Burrell
THE TWO-BY-TWO SUNDAY
A deathly silence fills the room, naught but the pages turn,
As one by one they file in, their faces long and stern.
Mabel always takes the couch, she says the chairs to hard.
We think she plops down over there to stare into the yard.
When David comes, his pants like floods, he sits down on the chair;
The hem goes halfway up his leg, you just can’t help but stare.
And Mary always has to stop to go the bathroom first;
Doris roots for half an hour sorting through her purse.
The Oztuks come with all the kids; from teen to tiny baby.
With two seats extra in the room, could mean the workers maybe.
Sure enough, it’s Dan and Ted, they’re staying here I guess,
Since Donna’s husband passed away, their homes are now one less.
“Does someone have a hymn to start,” says Dan in that deep voice.
Of course,s Eileen will yell one out, gives no one else a choice.
“Oh for a closer walk,” she’ll choose, we know the words by heart,
Then Dan, who’s not the singing type, says, “someone else can start.”
After singing, everyone will bow their heads in prayer.
When no one’s looking Ruthie’s way, she starts to comb her hair.
They all have prayed but Ralphie now, he must have fell asleep.
His wife gives him the elbow and he almost takes a leap.
Just as we start to sing again, this time it’s Laura’s choice,
The back door hinges start to creak; she always late, that Joyce.
We sing the hymn that Laura chose, then much to our surprise,
Our chronic late “friend” starts to pray, we can’t believe our eyes.
David, trying to be a help, tells her we’re all done praying.
Joyce stops short and stares at him, she can’t hear what he’s saying.
It’s testimony time, of course, we each must have a part,
Though some speak only from the mouth, we hear too, from the heart.
Now Doris pulls a funny one, we nearly laugh out loud;
The workers’ looks across the room don’t make us feel too proud.
Now all have spoken, the workers too, we share the bread and wine.
Of course,those cannot have a part who cast pearls before the swine.
We sing another hymn and then the meeting is complete,
We sit around and talk about the crop and all that heat.
Mabel gets invited to the Oztuks house for lunch;
They get together often and gossip while they munch.
We just go home alone today for sandwiches and soup,
Then write letters to the workers, way off in Guadeloupe.
Fifty-two times in the year, every Sunday morn,
The Two by two’s meet in the home, the worldly church they scorn.
So this concludes the weekly scene of Sunday meeting here,
Week after week, month after month, now in its hundredth year.
By Scott, December 24, 1997
A “worker” I am told by Webster and Strong,
Is one who labors and toils, all the day long.
So I could not help ponder, how “worker” came about,
And what gave that name, such powerful clout.
“Work” means take a job, from morning till night.
You get dirty and soiled and look quite a sight.
A “worker” usually works and is never lax.
And they, most assuredly always pay tax.
“Workers” are not pampered, or have their bills paid,
Given keys to a car, or have the use of a maid.
They do have a mortgage, or else they pay rent,
And do not get handouts that are Heaven sent.
All of the “friends” work every day.
So that the “workers” don’t have to pay.
They polish and shine, and keep everything neat,
So that the “workers” can all have a treat.
Now “worker” is an action word, not used in vain,
And they “work” really hard, causing much pain.
While they do not have houses or roofs to repair,
They also “work” hard, keeping track of your hair.
The gals wear it long, but done up to look short.
And if you do not submit, you are hauled into court.
“Wrong spirit” is the verdict, soon handed down,
Said of course, with their own perpetual frown.
You may wear a pin on the front of your dress,
But to put one in your ear, you better not press.
Clothes may be worn with a little luster or two,
But some rose on your cheek would turn them quite blue.
This bad “spirit” you have, was caught like the flue,
It came right from them, and is that not true?
Their rules make you gag, and gasp for fresh air,
But to question their clout, you would never dare.
If you do as you are told, and questions don’t ask,
In their approval, you surely will bask.
They will eat all your food, and borrow your car.
And you will shine bright, like a glittering star.
It is very hard “work” for them to watch morn and night,
And keep all their sins tucked clean out of sight.
To criticize, judge and condemn every day,
But keep themselves pure, in the perfect way.
It is also hard “work” to be sinless and pure,
And all of the “friends” too have to endure.
To hold themselves up, while they hack and compare,
And gossip, and plague you, with many a care.
They are the “elite,” the cream of the crop,
They get all their orders, from the Man at the top.
They go two together, and don’t run in packs.
And “work” extra hard to cover their tracks.
Irvine was the guy, who started this “work,”
It is not surprising, that he too was a jerk.
The “vision” he had, I won’t attempt to deny,
On great power and control, he too became high.
But alas, this man fell down into mire,
And jumped from the pan, right into the fire.
He got one too many “visions,” with himself at the top,
So they decided to agree his bubble to pop.
Now Irvine, who I said, started this sect,
Howled and yelled and lost lots of respect
As most of the other, very motley crew,
All jumped together and formed a big coup.
Some were upset when they kicked Irvine out,
Which caused some pain and a great deal of doubt.
But they chose a new boss, and left “Jesus” way,
And the split down the middle exists to this day.
The “branch” of the “vine” that I was born in,
Was no less corrupt or free from sin.
The embarrassment of Irvine, they “worked” hard to deny,
And “he never existed”, was their hue and cry.
Now their beginning was right from Adam’s rib,
And I want to tell you, that is no fib.
Irvine was not the author of lies, deceit and scum—
None of us are really that dumb.
It came right from Lucifer, the sneaky slimy snake,
Who urged poor Eve, the apple to partake.
The author of all evil, the start of each lie,
The very first cult formed when Satan came by.
“Two by two,” the animals walked up the welcome mat,
And along came the incredible, sneaky, slimy rat.
Yes! Right from the start, there has been deceit and lies,
But it did not come from a vision in the skies.
Irvine could not heal, though he tried a few times,
Even though Christ promised these signs.
None of his prophecies ever came true.
Reminds me of Baal and his fire department crew.
They are “from the start”, that is not hard to realize,
From the very first evil, starter of lies.
I don’t need an “idol worker”, or one who has lied,
As a substitute God, for the One who has died.
HE is “the way, the truth and the life,”
Your Lord and Savior, Who did everything right.
He finished the work, that He had to do,
To bring Salvation to me and to you.
He sacrificed all, for your sake and mine,
And for any sin, you don’t pay a fine.
He paid for your sin, and you are debt-free,
He took care of that when He died on the tree
So give Him your tears. He does really care,
And get out of the “workers” perpetual nightmare.
Stay free from the bondage, the lies, and the fraud,
And cast all your grief, on our dear loving God.
He never condemns and will lift you up,
He is not concerned with the outside of the cup.
Our Triunal God is pure and complete,
And you may look forward, your Savior to meet.
By Marge Reynolds, 1996
Truth is the power that stands erect
‘Gainst every evil lie
The vile impostor must bow down
He cannot truth defy.
Truth, is the light that searches out
The hidden depths of night
And by its power, reveals all sin
The darkness flees from light.
Truth takes examination
It will not hide its face
It will not budge a single inch
For Truth bears no disgrace.
Truth doesn’t need protection
Alone, it can defeat
And on the rooftops will declare
The evils of deceit.
It won’t take duplication
Its virtues must reveal
Whatever isn’t truth itself
The fruits cannot conceal.
It’s Master of the Universe
The heavens all obey
Because the Truth is God Himself
The Life, the Truth, the Way.
By Sheila (De Jager) Martin
Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada
Sheila’s funeral was held May 18, 2005. She died from lung cancer.
I feel like a blundering idiot,
misled, with a head full of sand
Wandering aimless through darkness,
No compass to guide in my hand
My cry lost amid raging waters.
My anchor lost, deep misery
The waves, the waves keep coming
Crashing all over me.
Fallen behind, I weakly watch the noisy crowds ahead
With no mind of my own, my hand reaches out to be led
My head aches with so many dreams plucked from the night
My eyes now accustomed to darkness, cannot adjust to light.
My inflated ego crushed, my sorrowful heart, cries out to God in need
His tender mercies never failing, touch the wounds that bleed
I must trust His hand to guide me, the path that He would choose
Hidden safe, under His wings, my soul can never lose.