Good morning, y’all. The sun shines bright on my old Georgia home, and I wish I could find the dimmer switch. It’s warming up too much, too early in the season for me. I suspect, most people feel the same. Reading about temperatures above 110 degrees in India doesn’t make me feel any better. Sometimes misery does not love company.
Speaking of misery, misery was what brought most of the folks to the Summer Revival 2010. People were looking for a healing, of body, or soul, or maybe both. As the second day of the revival began, the Elders of the Little Church in the Valley gathered round the kitchen table in the rectory to discuss the previous day’s events. By all accounts, the day was a smashing success in terms of turnout and revenue. Conservative estimates put the crowd at twelve hundred people, and the Ladies Auxillary reported an almost complete sellout of food items. The “Ladies in Waiting” of the Ladies Auxillary had been dispatched to Blairsville to scour the Walmart for items that could be resold easily. Any items that were individually packed were prized. Some items, like giant dill pickles, would be sold individually straight from the container. There would be no Health Department officials overlooking the process, so, if an attendee returned home with something unexpected, well, it was God’s will.
Pepsi Cola in Blairsville had been called to restock their little pullalong trailer with double the Co2 and mix canisters. Pepsi Cola had donated the trailer and product, and were happy to have the exposure in the heart of Coca Cola country. Ice was provided by the Hoakum’s General Store, and cold drinks at a dollar a cup were highly profitable. Since the evening temperatures were in the upper eighty’s, and, most of the foods chosen were of the salty variety, the crowd was desperate for fluid replacements. There had been discussion of selling Gatorade or other energy drinks, but the profit margin was just not there. A bottle of Gatorade would have to sell for five dollars to provide the margin that was being delivered by the cups of Pepsi Cola. The Elders didn’t want to be sitting on any unsold inventory at the end of the Revival.
The reports of the Elders overseeing tent numbers two and three had been favorable. The altar call and Testament of Faith had not been as overwhelming as in tent number one, but had been respectable. While the styles of each of the hopefuls was different, each had held to the format given to them by the Elders. Clearly, healing was not the strong suit of some of the ministers, but all had delivered a strong message. The ability to handle serpents, and give confidence to the audience that the snake was been handled properly, also varied tremendously. No one mentioned the shortcomings of the Right Reverend Hap T. Johnson, but the uncertainty by Brighton Early had been noticed.
It was expected that the newly ordained ministers might be a little green, but the Little Church in the Valley had been founded on the Testament of Faith. There were many in the congregation that believed that the snakes could sense fear, and that it made them more aggressive. No one wanted to handle a six foot timber rattler after the snake had been made aware of a doubter. The Elders were looking for reasons to disqualify a candidate as well as to qualify them. Being unable to pass a snake to the person next to you without incident was a black mark. Failing to call the sinful to the altar was also another shortcoming that could not be overlooked. The Reverend Rocky Rhoades seemed to have the least appeal to the sinners, or the congregation in Tent Number Three was the most pious. Either way, his altar call seemed a little sparse.
Less guilt seemed to equate to less collections. The collections from Tent Number Three fell far short of the average donation of $5.25 per head collected in Tent Numbers One and Two. Treasurer Mulva Lite reported collections of five thousand one hundred and forty dollars for the first night. Ninety percent of the take was in cash. After paying all of the ministers, and the Right Reverend Hap T. Johnson his share of the gate, the Little Church in the Valley cleared about twenty six hundred dollars from donations. Treasurer Lite was also happy to report that the concessions brought in a whopping eight thousand dollars. All and all, it was a record breaking first night Revival for the church. Reverend Daniel remarked that “new blood” might just be what the Little Church needed. Everyone was too polite to agree, and all assured him that he still had years of service to perform.
The lineup for night two of Summer Revival 2010 had Dale E. Bread opening for Hap T. Johnson in Tent One, Brighton Early opening for Bill Foldes in Tent Two, and Rocky Rhoades opening for Al Bino in Tent Three. For the most part, the ministers were not to be seen during the day. All the ministers kept to themselves, and went about whatever sightseeing, Bible study, or video game playing while they killed time until the next service. There was one exception. The Right Reverend Hap T. Johnson, and part of his entourage, were very highly visible as they roared out of the parking lot. They had just been served lunch by the Ladies Auxillary, and suddenly they jumped into the cars as one.
The screeching tires of the Escalades had Reverend Daniel commenting, “Where’s the fire?” There was no fire, except for the suspicious looking rash that had developed on the Right Reverend’s ankles and legs. As the hour approached 6PM, and the Right Reverend and his entourage had not arrived back, the Elders began to become concerned. At 6:08PM the Right Reverend returned and rushed into his tour bus without a word. The Elders breathed a sigh of relief, and did their walk around of the grounds. Elder Cheatum went to the tour bus and knocked on the door. The Right Reverend’s assistant answered the door and took the envelope with ten one hundred dollar bills from the Elder. She then signed the ledger book indicating receipt of payment. There being no further discussion, Elder Cheatum moved on to check on the Ladies Auxillary. The Ladies Auxillary was prepared for another big night, Pepsi Cola had restocked their mobile concession stand, and all of the stations looked ready to go.
The crowds had already filled the main tent, having learned the night before that if you’re going to see Hap T. Johnson, you’ve got to get there early. The remainder of the crowd was wandering about, mulling the decision of which of the ministers they wanted to see. As the slower decision makers continued to try to make up their minds, their decision was made for them. Tent number two filled up, with the only room left for the stragglers in Tent number three. Promptly at 7PM, the lights flickered throughout the parking lot and the speakers started playing the hymn, “All Are Welcome”. Night two of Summer Revival 2010 had begun.