Good morning, y’all. One of the downsides to having a socially media savvy guy like the Donald is that he can create so many diversions to take the public away from digging deeper into the essence of what it is to be a Trump. While we learn that his former campaign manager is now being investigated by the FBI for his Russian ties, we learn more about his new guy, Steve Bannon. Bannon is head of Breitbart News, which runs headlines like, “Birth Control Makes Women Unattractive and Crazy” and “Trannies Whine about Hilarious Bruce Jenner Billboard.” Just a regular guy like The Donald. Meantime Ivanka is vacationing in Croatia with Putin ex-girlfriend Wendy Deng. I guess Ivanka will use Wendy to be the bearer of the news that Putin won’t be spending the night in the Lincoln bedroom. Never a dull moment.
Speaking of dull moments brings us back to the retelling of the history of The Full Gospel Original Church of God. The week following Easter flew by without consequence. The unofficial meeting of the board at the IHOP in Blairsville was more about breakfast than about church business. It was a welcome relief for the three friends. The official meeting of the board after Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting was equally uneventful. Reverend Helena sat quietly through the meeting and did not comment on any of the issues. In fact, the only new issue was a request by the Blairsville Police Department to encourage the worshipers to respect the property rights of the homeowners in the area of the church. Elder Wiley had determined that by hiring two off-duty officers for parking control that the city would feel that the church had done their best to appease the homeowners.
“What’s the cost”, asked Elder Cheatum.
“A hundred dollars an hour, fifty dollars each”, replied Elder Wiley, “I think three hours should cover it, 10AM to 1PM”.
“Well, if it keeps us legal, and the city off of our back, it’s money well spent”, replied Elder Cheatum.
“Mulva, how are we doing”, asked Elder Cheatum as he looked at the secretary/treasurer.
“Well you can see from the P&L and Balance Sheet that we’re building up a nice little cash reserve”, Mulva said as she handed the documents to the Elders.
“It looks to me like we’re in a position to fund one of our projects, like the daycare center, maybe”, the secretary said while looking tentatively at the the Elders.
“It might be, it might be”, said Elder Cheatum looking at the bottom line, “but where do we put it, in Nunsuch, or Blairsville?” “We definitely need to do more research before committing funds to the project.”
“Why not both”, asked Mulva, “we’ve certainly got the space both places.”
“True, true”, replied Elder Cheatum, “why don’t you draw up your plans in a formal proposal that we can all take home and study on?”
“Once you get that proposal done I’ll start searching out the legal side of things”, replied Elder Wiley, “Even in Georgia they can get picky about how you take care of other people’s kids.”
“I will, right away”, replied Mulva.
“Well good”, answered Elder Cheatum.
“If there’s no further business”, Elder Cheatum said as he looked at Reverend Helena. There was not further business and the meeting was adjourned.
The newly proposed “Religious Freedom Law” was one of the many things Elder Cheatum was cogitating on as he entered Blairsville and negotiated the city streets to the new location of The Full Gospel Original Church of God. He was relieved to find that the parking lot was not filled with the overflow crowd that had been the case at last week’s Easter service. The two off-duty police officers were in evidence in their orange vests and reflective gloves. They seemed to have developed a master plan for crowd control and were rather strident in enforcing their plan. Even at this early hour, parking was still an issue, and Elder Cheatum had to park about four blocks away from the church. The Elder grew concerned that the pollen filled walk back to the church would set off his coughing again.
“Reverend Helena could have serious competition for the crowd’s attention if I get started”, the Elder thought to himself as he checked his coat pocket to make sure that the two rolls of Hall’s mentho-lyptus cough drops were where thought they should be. As the Elder arrived at the church grounds he could see there were a few people milling about the broadcast truck. The hangers on seemed to be more interested in watching the crew than the feed of Channel 99’s broadcast on the big screen TV mounted on the side of the truck.
Promptly at 10:30, The Elder took his position at the right side of the double doors leading into the church and began greeting followers as they entered the church. The Elder maintained his position until the gathering hymn brought him inside for the service. From his observation post in the last row, Elder Cheatum could see that the auditorium was packed, but everyone appeared to have a seat.
Elder Cheatum leaned over to whisper into the ear of his friend Elder Wiley who had slid in beside him for a moment.
“Last week’s attendance must have been due to the ‘Easter bump'”, the Elder said, “this week’s crowd is probably more our new ‘normal'”.
Elder Wiley looked about while Elder Cheatum continued, “I don’t think the smaller crowd is a reflection of the service last week.” “I think that folks that came for a ‘spirit filled’ experience got their money’s worth last week, even if the testament of faith had to be foregone.”
Elder Wiley whispered back, “I think you’re right, I’m excited to see how Reverend Helena plans on topping last week’s service.”
As the house lights dimmed, Elder Wiley returned to his normal spot towards the front of the church and the choir launched into “Nearer My God To Thee”. There was no puff of smoke, but there was a “poof” moment, when the Reverend Helena Handbasket magically appeared before the congregation.
Reverend Helena was wearing a Kelly green robe with a white sash trimmed in gold. While green was Elder Cheatum’s favorite color, in money, he despised it in clothing.
“I wonder if the green signifies Spring, rebirth, renewal, or if it was just the only robe that was clean”, wondered the Elder, “Considering all of our other issues, I’m pretty sure I shouldn’t ask Reverend Helena about her choice in clothing.”
The Elder had built a successful career in believing that people did the things they do for a reason. “The way to get to the heart of things, and to get know how people think is to ask what their reasoning is”, concluded the Elder.
“I will let sleeping dogs lie on this one”, the Elder thought as he paid heed to the sermon.
Reverend Handbasket was in fine form. Apparently the brush with stupidity by the Georgia legislature regarding the “Religious Freedom Act”, had rankled the Reverend. She was not about to let her congregation escape the walls of the church without letting them know how she felt about intolerant Christians. The sermon went from Mary Magdalene to lepers in the blinking an eye. The segue between the two made perfect sense if you believe in the Golden Rule.
“Good Christians are all supposed to be united in their love of the Lord, despite their Earthly trappings”, Reverend Helena said, “So even if you are a person of ill repute, or unclean skin, you are deserving of God’s love”. The Reverend wrapped up with Romans 9:12, “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.”
With that, the choir went into “Love Lifted Me”, and the Reverend moved to the floor in front of the altar to await the lost souls and the serpents. This time they arrived out of order.