Good morning, y’all. As President Obama tours the devastation of Louisiana he receives criticism from both sides. The Right want to know why he wasn’t there sooner, why he didn’t cut short his vacation so he could perform a photo-op like the Donald and Pence did. The Left want to know why the President didn’t mention the fact that all of this abnormal weather is being cause by climate change. I guess being President means you’re not going to please all of the people all of the time.
Speaking of not pleasing people, brings us back to the retelling of the history of The Full Gospel Original Church of God. After his dissertation on the intolerance of the Elders, Bud Lite was ready to view that day’s telecast from the Crystal Palace in Blairsville. Bud selected the telecast from the menu of his DVR and turned up the sound. He didn’t want to miss a note from Ted E. Baer and His Love Fellowship, or a syllable from the Reverend Helena Handbasket. As the telecast began, the camera panned from the outside of the church where fifty to seventy five followers milled about the big screen mounted on the broadcast truck, to the interior of the church. The Love Fellowship began the gathering hymn and Reverend Handbasket appeared magically on the stage.
The Reverend was once again resplendent in her accoutrement, decked out in a peach colored robe with white sash and gold trim. Bud surprised himself when he realized he was thinking that the peach robe was a nice touch, Georgia being the Peach State and all. He further surprised himself when he realized he had an opinion about how the robe choice was also a good color to offset the Reverend’s fiery red hair. As the cameras panned the altar area they revealed that the colors from the flower arrangements also complemented the Reverend’s ensemble. The whole tableau came across beautifully in the high def broadcast. As hard as he searched for clues, Bud could still find no reveal as to how the Reverend was able to magically appear on the stage as if she materialized from thin air.
This week’s sermon from the Crystal Palace was based on Matthew:7 1-3, “Judge not, lest you be judged”.
“It’s a good thought for all of us to keep in mind each day as we go about our daily lives”, stated Reverend Handbasket, “Of course if you’re in management, or ever expect to get a desired result from a group of people, you’re going to need to judge a little”. The congregation laughed politely at Reverend Helena’s little joke.
“I truly believe the expectation of the scripture is that we not judge one another too harshly in our primary relationships”, said Reverend Helena, “Treat others as you want to be treated, and you’ll do just fine.”
The Reverend’s movements and body language seemed to be more pronounced this service than in previous telecasts. It was like she was trying to bring some of that “old time religion” into the sermon. Bud was surprised to see Reverend Helena actually thump her Bible once or twice to emphasis her points as she moved about the stage.
As Bud watched the telecast, he wondered if last week’s sermon had caused the Elders to try to rein in the Reverend Helena. The Elders may have felt that the Reverend was getting to “social” and losing sight of the core values of the congregation.
“I’d love to be a fly on the wall in those meetings were the Elders try to rein Reverend Helena in”, thought Bud. He resolved to ask Mulva if she had heard any of the chastisements. It was hard to know where the Reverend began and the Elders ended without overhearing the conversations.
“I hope that the Elders don’t stifle the Reverend too much”, Bud thought, “if that’s whats going on”.
During the collection, Bud and Mulva discussed the meteoric success of the church. Mulva confirmed that the church’s success had come about because the Reverend was connecting to a much broader base than before. The Reverend’s charisma had brought in new initiates from as far away as Columbus and Charlotte and all points in between. Mulva had the evidence in the requests for Bible bookmarks and her deposit slips.
Mulva looked Bud squarely in the eyes as she said, “It’s amazing to me to see a really big church filled to the brim for an Evangelical service”. “An Evangelical service that doesn’t promise a transfer of wealth from the rich to the poor like Ted Cruz’s dad delivers, but, a service that preaches the Golden Rule and admonishes us to not get ‘all judgey’.”
Bud watched the testament of faith with great anticipation. He was curious to see if Reverend Helena was going to “up her game” by working with a timber rattler this week. Bud had witnessed Reverend Dale introduce a “big boy” into his service earlier that day. It was such an event that Bud had phoned Mulva with the news before he had left the parking lot of the little church. It was the first time since the incident that Reverend Dale had tempted fate again. It was a big step in Reverend Dale’s recovery.
To Bud’s utter amazement, the Reverend Handbasket lifted what looked like a six foot rattler out of the box, and treated the rattler, and the audience, to a rather fast paced version of the Watusi. As the Reverend placed the rattle snake back in the box, the choir launched into “Softly and Tenderly”. The aisles were filled with people who wanted to “come home”. Reverend Helena stood in front of the altar handing out blessings and welcoming the initiates to their new home until the telecast ended.
Bud turned the TV back to regular programming and sat quietly for a while.
“Well”, asked Mulva.
“Well, it looks to me like the Elders have found a gold mine’, replied Bud, “I could probably get involved in a church that was built around the golden rule.”
“I hope the Elders don’t ruin it for everybody”, said Bud as he changed topics, “I guess you want to give the rest of the pork to the Bread’s.”
“Yes, I do”, replied Mulva.
“Well, save me enough for a sandwich tomorrow and I’ll be ok”, Bud said as he tuned in to the American Ninjas.