Good morning, y’all. “There’s an old saying in Tennessee — I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee”, sorry, channeling my inner Bush to repeat an old saying about, “Dancing with the one that brung you”. Apparently the saying never reached Indiana where the Donald’s running mate Mike Pence resides. Mike Pence has had the unenviable task of walking behind the elephant and cleaning up the carnage and poop he leaves behind. Now Pence is outright breaking with the Donald’s statements and countering them with the sanitized versions we’ve all grown to expect. Come on Mike, have the strength of your convictions and stand by your man. Tammy Wynette did, and look at what success it brought her. You’ve got to dance with the one that brought you, it’s just good manners.
Speaking of ‘dancing with the one that brought you’ brings us back to our retelling of the history of The Full Gospel Original Church of God. After Reverend Handbasket left the room the members of the board reviewed the P&L report and Balance sheet. The church was making money like they had a printing press behind the altar. Even projecting the costs associated with paying Reverend Dale for the two additional services, and the expenses of maintaining two physical locations, the church was going to triple last year’s profits. If the move to the Crystal Palace paid the dividends the Elders suspected it would, the sky was the limit.
“I wanted to remind you to be sure and follow up with all of the new members and remind them of their vow to service”, said Elder Cheatum to Mulva, “We have no idea what skill sets are available to us until we get everyone catalogued in our database.” “Speaking of which, how are we coming with the improvements at the Crystal Palace.”
“Well, we’ve got the plumbing installation donated, but we’re going to have to buy the materials”, Mulva replied. “Constance’s husband just can’t afford both.”
“That’s fine, where are we with the HVAC”, Elder Cheatum said as he looked at Elder Wiley.
“I’ve got the condenser unit, the furnace and the installation donated,” Elder Wiley responded, “I have a client who sometimes comes in possession of unique items, and he happened to have a twenty ton unit available.” “Oddly, he also knew someone capable of doing the installation.”
Elder Cheatum raised an eyebrow at Elder Wiley before turning to Elder Diggum. “And how about the electrical?”
“Taken care of”, replied Elder Diggum, “he’ll be working after work, and it’ll probably take him a week or so, but it’s all free.” “He’s even donating the wire.”
“Good, good, now where do we stand on clean up?” Elder Cheatum asked as he looked back at Mulva.
“We’ve got crews going in every day until it’s done,” Mulva answered, “We’re using painter’s scaffolding to try clean the glass, but it’s slow going.” “We’re not as young as we used to be.”
“I’m still working on the Hispanic group of professionals”, interjected Elder Wiley, “I should know something this week.”
“That would be a blessing”, replied Mulva, “I’m not sure I’ll be able to enjoy the service if I’m going to be worried about every bird that flies overhead.”
The Elders chuckled at Mulva’s heartfelt admission.
“I heard that”, responded Elder Cheatum, “where are we coming on the landscaping and yard work?”
“We’re good, in fact, excellent”, said Mulva, “we’ve got a long list of people willing to work and donate a plant or a tree.” “We’re going to look like the Botanical Gardens if everybody comes through with their pledge.”
“That’s excellent”, said Elder Cheatum as he stood, indicating the conclusion of the meeting. “Keep the folks to their pledge, Mulva, “We’ve got the promised land in our sights, we can’t let up until we’ve crossed that river.”
“Would that be the Nottely river”, asked Elder Wiley as the group reached their cars.
“It would”, responded Elder Cheatum. The group headed off into the night to their respective destinations. Some to rest, and some to continue working on the church’s business long into the night.
Sunday’s service was filled to the brim, in spite of the freezing temperatures. People had taken to just leaving their coats in their cars to cut down on the extra space required by the outer garments. It was a sad indictment of the conditions, but, if all went well, relief was just a few more Sundays away. As Elder Cheatum watched from his ‘standing room only’ spot at the door, he was happy to see that the age demographic was decidedly turning younger. There was no denying the energy that the younger followers brought to the service.
This week’s service was on Sloth, a topic near and dear to Elder Cheatum’s heart. Reverend Helena opened her sermon by enlightening the congregation that in the Scriptures, Sloth is one of the seven deadly sins. Reverend Helena pointed out that in Ecumenical circles, “Sloth is described as a spiritual or emotional apathy, and being physically and emotionally inactive.” Reverend Helena touched a nerve with the people whose parents had taught them laziness was as sinful as drinking or smoking. The line that stuck with Elder Cheatum was, “Those of you committing the offense of sloth are not taking advantage of God’s gifts when you lay about all day doing nothing.”
“Fair point”, the Elder thought, “or as blatant a call to volunteerism as I’ve ever witnessed.” The Elder was pleased that Reverend Helena drove that point in, time and time again.
Either the Reverend had a personal vendetta against the Slothful, or it was a topic that she was real familiar with. Either way, the Reverend ran out of TV time before she was finished delivering her message. Channel 19 in Blairsville cut away to “their regularly scheduled telecast” before the Reverend wound up. No altar call, no serpent wrangling, just a cutaway to the next show without the benefit of the call for donations. Fortunately the new ad for the Bible bookmarks was shown during the collection.
“Hopefully, the donations won’t suffer too much”, Elder Cheatum thought as he headed back to the office after services. As the Elder sat down at the table and watched the secretary/treasurer separate the cash from the checks, he marveled at how nimbly she handled the task, “Done it a million times”, he thought.
Mulva looked up from the task and in a rare moment of pique responded, “Ain’t it funny that Reverend Helena took more than an hour to deliver a message that Granny Waller handled with, ‘An idle mind is the devil’s workshop and idle hands are the devil’s tools’.”
Elder Cheatum laughed and grinned at the secretary as he said, “And the message was generally followed by a smack to the back of the head as I remember.” “It always got me moving.”
The two graduates of multiple Vacation Bible Schools laughed together at the memory of the days of “spare the rod and spoil the child”.
“Well, it’s probably going to help with our calls for volunteerism this week,” Mulva said as she wrote out the deposit slips and placed the collections in the bank bag.
“Every cloud has a silver lining”, responded Elder Cheatum, “let’s hope these clouds outside aren’t carrying any precipitation.” “We’ve had our ice storm for the year, I hope.”
“The Almanac says it will be mild from here on out”, Mulva replied, “I hope it’s right.” “We’ve got a lot of work to do.”
“Speaking of”, replied the Elder, “I’m going to leave you to it.”
Suddenly the Elder was gone, leaving the secretary to conclude the church’s business for that week on her own.