Good morning, y’all. While Ryan Lochte is twittering the world with his apologies for his abhorrent behavior, the man that needs no apologies, Usain Bolt, is crushing the world with his speed. Bolt, like his name implies, flashed by everybody to become the fastest man in the world for three consecutive Olympics. It is an incredible feat, and the fact that Bolt can do it with such ease is remarkable. Bolt is the first man to hold both the 100 metres and 200 metres world records at the same time, and appears to be just having fun doing it.
Speaking of having fun brings us back around the telling of the history of The Full Gospel Original Church of God. Mulva decided to switch locations this week to catch the services at the Little Church In The Valley. The weather had turned bitterly cold again, threatening snow and ice, and Mulva didn’t want to risk the possibility of being trapped in town by an ice storm.
“The Crystal Palace doesn’t need my support as much as the old location does”, thought Mulva as she drove into the parking lot, “Certainly Reverend Helena doesn’t need my patronage”. Mulva reflected on the fact that the Elders were afraid that due to her meteoric success the young Reverend might get called away by a bigger congregation. Mulva smiled inwardly. She was confident that Reverend Helena was going to stay for as long as their church would have her.
“Even if she has become the Elton John of the Evangelical set”, thought Mulva, “I don’t think there’s enough tea in China to pull her away from our church”. Mulva was aware that the move to the Crystal Palace had placed Reverend Helena in a rather unique situation. There were only two or three Evangelical churches in the country that were larger than the Crystal Palace. All of them had bigger TV markets, but Reverend Helena’s market was growing exponentially. The fact that local restrictions in big cities like Dallas, Houston and Charlotte didn’t allow for the handling of serpents was a big plus for Reverend Helena.
“True believers can see something in our telecasts that the folks in the big cities can’t see”, thought Mulva, “although the testament of faith as performed by Reverend Helena is not her strongest job qualification”. “What she lacks in her testament of faith is more than made up in her message though.” “She is saying things in her sermons that need to be said, I just don’t know that a man would ever say them.” “I love her for that”, Mulva thought.
Mulva walked into church to find Alva Bread and her brood already sitting square in the middle of the church. Rather than slipping into her usual spot in the third row, Mulva slid in the pew next to Alva and held out her arms for a baby. Alva had plenty to spare, and she handed Mulva the two year old who was drooling heavily.
“He’s teething”, explained Alva as she fussed with the one year old, “just let him gnaw on your finger, he’ll be fine.” Mulva extended the pointer finger of her right hand and the little one latched onto it like a dog with a soup bone. While the gnawing was uncomfortable, it was not painful, and Mulva bore the call to service with the quiet dignity that she always did.
“I felt like I needed to be counted in attendance at the ‘The Little Church In The Valley’ today”, Mulva said over the head of the child in her lap,”I feel I need to show my support for Reverend Dale.”
“We appreciate it,” Alva said as she reached over to untangle the two older children as they wrestled on the pew.
Mulva looked about the church and did a quick head count. The attendance was about half of what it used to be at the little church before Reverend Dale’s accident. The congregation consisted of the diehards who wouldn’t go into town, and the folks who were morbidly watching for a repeat of the Reverend Dale’s famous incident. There were also those who were romantically linked to the Right Reverend, and Mulva just put a guess on those by gender and age group. Mulva figured the age span for those females who were possibly linked to the Right Reverend was from 18 to 55.
“I don’t want the Elders to close our little church”, thought Mulva, “I just hope Reverend Dale can contain his urges for the good of his family and our community.”
Between distractions by assorted members of the Bread brood, Mulva listened to their Daddy’s sermon. The Right Reverend did a fine job of delivering his message entitled, “Love Thy Neighbor As Thyself”. It was a good, well thought out theme. It was so good that it set Mulva’s mind to wondering.
“I don’t know that anybody ever needs to preach anything else”, she thought, “but I know they will”. “Churches sure enough would go broke if week after week they just taught the Golden Rule”. “It would be like the preacher standing up behind the pulpit saying, ‘that’s it, that’s all I’ve got’.”
Mulva continued to muse while the collection was being passed. From her own experience she knew how the little church competed with every distraction that a motivated mind could conjure up. Whether it was hunting, fishing, or just plain laziness, the church was always behind the eight ball when trying to attract male parishioners. When you throw in the just completed “March Madness” or the nine months that comprise the NFL season, it was a wonder that there were ever any male bodies in the pews. Mulva remembered the time back in the beginning of Reverend Dale’s tenure when the Elders threatened to fine the Reverend ten dollars for every minute he ran past noon.
The Elders had reasoned that most men could be corralled into attending a Sunday service if it didn’t go past noon. Their thinking was that the average man was willing to forego a few minutes of in depth analysis by NFL retirees for the potential salvage of their immortal souls. But, they cautioned, once the service started slipping towards kickoff, all bets were off.
Elder Wiley had made what he thought was a funny joke about folks that celebrate their Sabbath on Saturday.
“I don’t think there’s a male in these parts that would darken the doors of a church if he thought there was any chance he’d miss kickoff”, Elder Wiley waxed, “There’s religion, and there’s worship, it’s important to know the difference”.
Fortunately, Reverend Dale heeded the Elders advice today, and he slipped the last serpent back in the box by twelve noon. Mulva handed the sleeping baby back to its mother and headed back to the office to do her count. Once finished, she would head to Blairsville to perform the same function, weather permitting. With any luck, she’d be able to watch the DVR’d telecast of the services from the Crystal Palace while she ate dinner back at home at TackyToo.
As she drove to Blairsville, Mulva hoped Bud had remembered to set the DVR. He suffered from ‘selective memory’ sometimes.