Good morning, y’all. Sadly, I can imagine the horror of a Trump presidency. I can only surmise that all of the talking heads, the news analysts, can not. Maybe they feel that their limos will still pick them up and deliver them to their penthouses regardless of who is President. Maybe they don’t see the danger behind the racist, xenophobic, misogynist becoming the most important man in the world. I liken the media’s obliviousness to Marie Antoinette and her response to being told that the people didn’t have bread. “Let them eat cake”, she is quoted to having said. If the media don’t stop trying to make the election into a horse race for their ratings, then we will all reap the whirlwind for their lack of holding Trump and his minions to account. Walter Cronkite must be spinning in his grave, along with all of the other true reporters.
Speaking of holding others to account brings us back to the retelling of the history of The Full Gospel Original Church of God. At the insistence of his wife Mulva, Bud Lite headed in to Blairsville to attend the services at the Crystal Palace. It was Pentecostal Sunday and Mulva wanted Bud by her side this Sunday. As Bud circled the area looking for a parking spot he reflected on the legend of the Pentecost and how it held deep meaning for the Evangelical faith.
Pentecost refers to the occasion of the visitation of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles, and the other early Christians, after Jesus had ascended into Heaven. It was a very big deal to the attendees of the Little Church in the Valley. The followers knew that visitation by the Holy Spirit was not limited to just one day of the year. The Spirit could visit at any time or hour, and most members thought the Spirit was just waiting inside the church for the congregation to return from one time to the next. To some members, Pentecostal Sunday was like celebrating a wedding anniversary. The first anniversary was special, but thereafter you were just going through the motions. Fortunately for the Evangelical movement, the majority of the followers did not feel this way.
Bud found a spot about four blocks away from the church and had to do his version of a sprint to get to the church on time. Bud reached the steps of the church just as the bells pealed their call to the faithful. Bud’s heart was still racing when he slid in next to Mulva in the third row. Bud heard the overhead camera glide into place as the choir opened up with “Faith of Our Fathers”. The Reverend Helena Handbasket materialized on the stage and then wandered over to the corner of the stage. Reverend Helena was dressed in a blood red robe with her customary white sash with gold trim. Her fiery red hair looked more bouffant than usual. Bud assumed the Channel 99 techs had given her a personal microphone to use, because the sound filling the auditorium was just perfect, even though she wasn’t standing behind the pulpit. There was no evidence of a boom mike overhead, so Bud reckoned Reverend Helena was wired up like a rock star.
Reverend Handbasket started her sermon talking about the Pentecost, describing the early days of Christianity. She spoke in a rather matter of fact voice, like she was giving a Sunday School lesson to a group of grammar school children. She described how the Apostles were at a loss for what to do next after Jesus had ascended. The Apostles were reflecting on their next moves when the Spirit came upon then. Reverend Helena quoted Acts 2:1-6, “When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken.” Obviously these were the core beliefs of an Evangelical congregation. The Reverend was “preaching to the choir”, as the saying goes.
Just in case the viewers were not convinced by her words, Reverend Helena had arranged a visual aid to help the faithful. There appeared to be a reflecting substance embedded in the Reverend’s hair that gave off the appearance of a flame when struck by whatever light the stage crew was using. The effect was overwhelming in person, Bud could only imagine how it looked on TV.
As Bud watched the Pentecostal flame burning over the Reverend’s head, he thought to himself, “I watch a lot of Sci-Fi and I don’t think I’ve seen that technique used before”. “I’ll have to Google magic tricks when I get a chance”.
Pentecost is one of the times communion is served at The Full Gospel Original Church of God. When Reverend Helena finished her sermon, she made the call to share communion and moved to her spot in front of the altar. The altar had been pre-staged by the Elders with the “wine” and the “flesh”. As the Elders moved the trays with shot glasses of grape juice to the congregation, the choir sang, “Are You Washed In The Blood”. After the “wine” had been circulated by the Elders throughout the congregation, the acolytes left their pews. They formed a line that went out the doors of both aisles with acolytes lining up to receive the “body of Christ”.
As Bud surveyed the lines he thought, “You’d think the church was giving away free double quarter-pounders with cheese, not an oyster cracker”.
The communion took the place of the usual altar call and testament of faith. Any evaluation of Reverend Helena “upping her game” based on the rumors of the serpent prodigy Devin, could not be conducted. Reverend Handbasket did seem to be spot on with the rest of the service, and she got through communion efficiently. At the end of the service the choir sang “What a Friend We Have in Jesus”, and Reverend Helena pronounced the benediction. Rather than slipping out ahead of everyone else, Bud stayed behind.
“This is the week I’m finding out how she does it”, Bud said to himself as he walked backstage with Mulva. While Bud was interested in seeing where his wife spent so many hours of her week, he was more interested in seeing how Reverend Helena materialized on stage. When he saw the trap door outline in the stage, he understood. He immediately felt a calming effect.
“Crazy, I felt like I was about to burst”, Bud thought after solving the puzzle, “I’m sure I wasn’t filled with the Spirit, but I sure was filled with something”. “Must have been curiosity”.
Bud followed Mulva back to the office and bounced from one foot to the other until being released by his wife. Bud did manage a “good sermon” to Reverend Helena who had already changed into her street clothes. Bud’s offer of all the pancakes she could eat was met with a polite refusal by the Reverend. Satisfied he had done all that was sociably required of him, Bud left the grounds at a good clip headed for IHOP.