Good morning, y’all. Planet Earth will wait with baited breath to hear the Donald’s new view on immigration. With a proposed meeting with Mexican President Nieto possibly sending a conciliatory message, there will certainly be a hard scrabble to assure the “real” Trump supporters that it is all just a ruse. As the Donald moves towards compassionate conservative status, one wonders if anyone but the media are fooled.
Being fooled brings us once again to the retelling of the history of The Full Gospel Original Church of God. Consequences for Reverend Dale’s most recent dalliances were not forgotten, just delayed. At the board meeting after Wednesday Night Prayer meeting, Mulva was allowed to make her case for keeping Reverend Dale. Whether she was still suffering the effects of her recent illness, or if she was just worn down, Mulva mounted a light defense for Reverend Dale.
“It is agreed”, said Elder Cheatum, “we will move with all possible haste to find a replacement for Reverend Dale”. The board had voted unanimously.
“Questions remain”, said Elder Cheatum, “but I think in the best interest of our mission that we take this opportunity to move Reverend Helena to town”.
Reverend Helena looked up, but did not voice a concern.
“She needs to be closer to the church, and to Channel 99”, Elder Cheatum said, “plus we’ll need the rectory for the new pastor.”
“Any objections”, the Elder asked as he looked about the table.
There were none.
“Good, I’ve got a couple of new listings in some lofts in town that could be just the thing”, Elder Cheatum said as he looked at the Reverend, “I believe we can upgrade your surroundings while putting you within walking distance of the church”.
The young Reverend was still silent. Elder Cheatum took her silence as complete agreement. “Mulva, do you have our reports”, the ELder asked.
“I do”, Mulva said as she handed out the P&L and balance sheet. “As you can see, the Bible Bookmarks are bringing in as much as the collections from both churches.” “The donations from TV land are now over seventy-five thousand a week, and still climbing.”
“They’ll continue to climb as we develop our own network”, said Elder Diggum, “I’ve been looking at the cablecast of the Shepherd’s Chapel out of Arkansas, and I think we can use them as a model for launching Reverend Helena world-wide.”
Elder Diggum continued on, “They are crushing it according to the cable people and are as an unsophisticated lot as you could find.” “Their whole hook is a ‘Mark of the Beast’ DVD.” “I believe we could send out something similar for under a dollar a copy.”
“Well, I hate to shift back to the unpleasantness”, said Elder Wiley, “but has anyone given Reverend Dale his termination date?”
“I told him thirty days”, said Elder Cheatum, “and I told him there might be some severance if he can keep it in his pants until we find a new pastor.” “Sorry, ladies”.
“Well, I’ll still make sure the necessary paperwork is done”, replied Elder Wiley, “particularly since we know Reverend Dale has a propensity for suing people, even when he’s in the wrong.”
“I think we’re done”, said Elder Cheatum as he rose to leave. “I’ll be calling you with some possible new residences”, he said looking at Reverend Helena.
Reverend Helena gave a soft, “Okay”, but did not voice any further opinions. The meeting was adjourned and everyone went their separate ways.
Sunday morning came quickly. Bud decided to attend church at the “Little Church in the Valley” this week. His decision was partly because of his tardiness that morning, but mostly because of the rumors he had been hearing. The Right Reverend Dale E. Bread had gotten himself sideways with the Elders again and it looked like this time Reverend Dale was on the way out.
“I absolutely hate it”, Bud thought as he pulled into the church parking lot, “in one regard, if Reverend Dale and his brood move out of TackyToo, I’m happy, I get to rent the trailer right away”. Bud couldn’t imagine renting to someone who was more trouble and less reliable with their rent check than the Breads.
As Bud climbed the steps to the church, he was still working his problem.
“If the Breads don’t move, then at some point Mulva’s Christian charity is going to kick in and I’m going to be on the hook for the rent and utilities again”, Bud thought. “I just hate it when history repeats itself”. “Evolution says we’re supposed to be smart and learn from our mistakes”.
Bud took his place in the third row and looked towards the pulpit. “Supplementing a ‘serial philanderer’ doesn’t seem like the smart bet to me, and, I am all about evolving”.
Bubba Hawker leading the choir in a hearty rendition of “Up From The Grave He Arose”, broke Bud from his internal revery. Bud wondered if the choice of hymns was Bubba’s subliminal message to all that he felt like he had been put down long enough, and now Bubba was about to arise. Bubba’s belief that it was time for him to claim his birthright had been stated to one all. Probably even to the the Right Reverend Dale E. Bread. What Bubba didn’t realize was that it didn’t matter what his lineage was, he would never be elevated to Pastor. Even in an interim basis. As kind and as good a soul as Bubba was, his die was already cast. None of the Little Church faithful felt that they could trust Bubba to give directions on how to get to the Walmart, let alone the Pearly Gates.
Ready to go out in a blaze of glory, Reverend Dale brought a stick of dynamite to a house full of matches this Sunday. His aura burned a fiery orange when he delivered his sermon, “Are You Willing To Face Your Past?” Cloaked within the sermon was the directive that “he who is without sin should cast the first stone”. It appeared that the Right Reverend was going to paint all of the congregation as sinners and then hope to receive the forgiveness card. Bud figured that ploy had a snowball’s chance in Hell, but stranger things had happened before. Like what happened next.
Just when the altar call was made, little Devin Bread, the eldest of the Bread brood, broke for the altar and began contorting as if possessed by a Mexican jumping bean. The contortions played second fiddle to the glossolalia that followed. To Bud’s untrained ear it sounded like a bunch of Spanish words mixed in with a lot of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednegos.
While Bud felt unqualified to speak on the quality of the tongues being spoken by the child, he could speak with a little more authority about snakes. Bud sat slack-jawed with the rest of the congregation as the child took the six foot timber rattlesnake and swung it by its tail around and around his head like a whirligig. Little Devin seemed charmed though, or truly possessed by spirit.
After placing the rattler back in the box, Devin returned quietly to his seat next to his Momma. Reverend Dale led the congregation in a rousing chorus of “Just A Closer Walk With Thee”, and delivered the benediction. Bud was so stunned he almost forgot to sneak out while everyone’s eyes were closed.
On the drive back to TackyToo, Bud tried to parse what he had seen. While most would attribute the spectacle to the Holy Ghost, based on his own run ins with the little miscreant, Bud strongly suspected the work of Beelzebub.
“Perhaps I judge too harshly”, Bud thought. He decided to update Mulva later, she was already carrying too big a burden.