Good morning, y’all. Is there anything that embodies the essence of the Olympics like the marathon? The fittest of the fit pushing themselves to the limits of human endurance. They battle the elements, each other, and themselves to compete in the ultimate race. While the gold medal is awarded to the fastest, it is still a great accomplishment to just finish. This Olympics featured an American, Galen Rupp, for the first time since Meb Keflezighi took the silver in 2004. The last American winner goes back to the 1972 Olympics with Frank Shorter taking the prize. Has the world gotten faster, or are we playing too many video games? I believe you know the answer to that question.
Excellence in an endeavor brings us back to the retelling of the history of The Full Gospel Original Church of God.
After completing her secretary/treasurer functions at the Crystal Palace, Mulva stopped by the Arby’s and picked up meatball subs with curly fries for supper. The smell of the freshly cooked curly fries tempted Mulva the entire way home, but she resisted their siren’s call. Watching the DVR’d telecast of the services from the Crystal Palace while eating dinner with Bud would be their “bonding” time for the day. Mulva didn’t want to cut the experience short by having eaten before she arrived.
Mulva parked at Number Two and headed straight to the Rec room office. Bud was already ensconced in the big Barcalounger, so Mulva drug a side chair from the corner along side of him. As Bud queued up the telecast Mulva distributed the food and provided soft drinks from the vending machine. While Bud sifted through the myriad of sports events and horror movies recorded on the DVR to locate the telecast, he began to speak.
“You know I want to maintain my support of the Right Reverend Dale E. Bread for obvious reasons, I also don’t want to be left out of the goings on at the Crystal Palace”, Bud said.
“It’s like Reverend Dale is the old comfortable pair of slippers you put on at the end of the day.” “Reverend Helena is like your ‘high heeled sneakers’.” Bud waxed on, “What she brings to the stage is just amazing.” “It’s like a Las Vegas magic show, with a choir and snakes.” “It’s certainly the best show in our neck of the woods.”
For the millionth time in their marriage, Mulva bit her lip and did not respond to one of Bud’s outrageous observations.
“Only Bud could make comparisons of people to shoes and church services being like Las Vegas magic shows”, Mulva thought to herself.
With her sandwich balanced on the left arm of the chair, and her Diet Dr. Pepper balanced on the right, Mulva was ready to once again to get filled with the spirit. The big screen popped to life, and there they were, looking down on the Reverend Helena Handbasket. Just like being in person, Reverend Handbasket had appeared on the stage as if out of thin air. Mulva knew about the trap door, but chose to keep it a mystery from Bud. She was hoping that the mystery would entice Bud into attending services in person.
As if he had been reading Mulva’s mind, Bud turned to Mulva and said, “I may have to join the choir to get close enough to solve the mystery of Reverend Helena’s sudden appearance on the stage.” “I can’t stand to not know how things work.”
Reverend Helena Handbasket was dressed in a yellow robe with her customary white sash trimmed in gold. Reverend Helena’s outfit caused an immediate reaction in Mulva.
“I am no fashion pate, but the yellow robe and the Reverend’s fiery red hair do not mix.”, she thought to herself.
When the TV displayed the shot from the floor cameras, Mulva felt like the Reverend looked like a yellow tulip with red stamens and pistils.
“A good look for a tulip, but not for an Evangelical preacher”, Mulva thought.
Suffering with the most uncharitable feeling that Mulva could recall having had in a long time, Mulva could feel herself drawing a comparison to Ronald McDonald.
“Of course the Reverend’s makeup is much better”, Mulva thought as she tried to get her feelings under control.
“I know I’m being tacky in judging by appearance”, Mulva continued to muse,”I just think for propriety’s sake, the Reverend needs to dial it down a bit”. “Not Mother Superior, mind you, but not Ringling Brothers either”.
Mulva tried to bring herself back to center by remembering the tenets of Matthew 7:1-3, “Judge not lest ye be judged”.
While the Reverend’s appearance disappointed, her sermon did not. The message was on “rendering unto Caesar”. The specific passage was Matthew 22:20-22, “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.” Mulva couldn’t decide it the sermon’s timing was in anticipation of tax time, or if Reverend Helena was feeling the moral imperative to say something about all of the new “religious freedom” laws being enacted. It was probably a combination of topics.
Mulva was very sensitive to the fact that the people watching the Reverend’s sermon were not known for being in support of government intervention. That would go one hundred fold when it came time for paying taxes. The only time that the people that populated the mountains felt like the need for a strong government was when the government was being used to persecute a minority. Mulva knew that there were just some topics you didn’t discuss with your neighbors, like immigration reform, refusing service to gay people, or invading other countries.
Mulva could see that the young Reverend was trying to steer the congregation down the path that separated Jesus’s teachings from constitutional amendments. In Mulva’s opinion, Reverend Helena did a fine job of explaining how the collective that is called government is supposed to raise the standard of living for all citizens.
“It is the government’s job to champion for all of its citizens, just as it is the Christians imperative to love one another”, stated Reverend Helena.
The Reverend wound up her sermon by pointing out that when Christians force legislation that does not promote Jesus’s values, “they are not rendering unto God what is God’s”.
Mulva could sense the backs and necks stiffening of the congregation even over the airwaves. The coup de grace was delivered when the Reverend pointed out that withholding taxes or other support for the government was not following Jesus’s teachings in Matthew 22:20-22, And He said to them, “Whose image and inscription is this?”
They said to Him, “Caesar’s.”
And He said to them, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”
When they had heard these words, they marveled, and left Him and went their way.
The testament of faith was performed flawlessly and all of the serpents were returned to their box, no less the wear. The altar call was disappointing, though. Mulva was convinced that the congregation was stunned by the news that Jesus didn’t support hating, and, Jesus wanted them to pay their taxes. The congregation sat in the pews after the altar call like they were glued to their seats. The followers seemed to be more interested in their own thoughts than they were in getting up and exulting the Lord with dance.
Mulva was sure there would be plenty of feedback from the Elders at the board meeting after Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting. Mulva did not look forward to their assessment of the service. If she wanted more discord in her life she’d just disagree with Bud about something. Rather than testing her theory, she left Bud sleeping soundly in the Barcalounger.