Good morning, y’all. Hot as the dickens here, but at least we’re not on fire like they are out West. The mind just boggles when you see the amount of acreage being consumed by fire. Fire seems to be pretty indiscriminate, too. Rich folks houses are being burned along with the trailer parks. Watching the crews going through doing cleanup, and only finding smoldering wood, is pretty sobering. I guess nothing bands humanity together like a disaster.
Speaking of disasters, that brings us back to the retelling of the history of the Little Church in the Valley. It is the sixth day of Summer Revival 2010, and the Elders are anticipating the end of the festivities. In fact, one of them, Elder Cheatum, was actually dreaming about ringing the church bell in the steeple of the little church signifying the end of the revival. The Elder had fallen into a deeper sleep than usual in his rocking chair on the front porch of the rectory. In his dream, the Elder was pulling long on the cord leading to the church bell, from shoulder height down to his knees. Up and down, back and forth, until his subconscious clued him that he was being rocked harder back and forth in his rocking chair. As he awoke he spun around to see Elder Diggum behind him about to give a push that would have dumped Elder Cheatum into the yard.
“You son of a biscuit eater, don’t you know it ain’t good to scare someone awake?” said Elder Cheatum as he arose from the chair.
“Well, I wasn’t sure if you were still with us or not.” “I’ve been calling your name for about five minutes.” “You must be more tuckered than usual.” said Elder Diggum as he started into the rectory. “Come on, you’re late for our 4 o’clock.”
The search committee sat about the kitchen table as the Ladies Auxillary worked behind them getting ready for the final night of revival.
“You ready?”, Elder Cheatum asked looking at Reverend Daniel.
“Well, if I ain’t, I ain’t ever going to be.” The Reverend said. “I do feel a bit of the spirit within me already.” “I’m going to be cautiously optimistic and say that maybe all of this has happened for the good.” “Who knows what the Lord has planned for us?” “Maybe it takes a crooked path to get there, filled with pitfalls and perils, but in the end, we wind up where we were supposed to be.”
“Sounds like the start of a good sermon.” said Elder Wiley, “you trying out tonight’s message on us?”
“It wouldn’t be the first time”, chuckled the Reverend Daniel. “Is there any last minute business, any crises that haven’t already been dealt with?” The Reverend said as he surveyed the table.
“Nope, now that I’ve brought Buster back from the dead I feel like we can get at least one more night out of him.” said Elder Diggum. “I’ll be in Tent number two and Alvin will be in Tent number three.” “I don’t think there will be any issues.” “I’ll be sure to frisk Reverend Foldes before he goes on.” “I’m not too sure he’s learned his lesson.” “Preacher’s kids are the worst, you know.” Elder Diggum laughed as he looked at Reverend Daniel.
“Well, I don’t know that I’ve seen any conclusive study done on the topic,” replied Reverend Daniel, “But I suspect there’s some truth to that.” “I suspect Saint Peter has compiled quite a list for me to answer to.” “Hopefully, I won’t have to face ‘the judge of us all’ for a while.” “I’d like to build up my good works a good bit before displaying the final tally.”
“Don’t we all”, said Elder Cheatum, “Are we ready to get to it?”, he said as he stood from the table. “I’d tell you to ‘break a leg'”, the Elder said while looking at Reverend Daniel, “but our top healer in this area is over in the hospital in Blairsville.”
Reverend Daniel looked at Elder Cheatum with mocked shock and said, “Here we are talking about getting more Heavenly and you lead off with that blasphemy.” “If you weren’t one of my best friends, I’d have you excommunicated, you old coot.”
“Who are you calling an old coot, you old coot?”, was the chorus of the old friends as they broke the meeting and headed out the door for their respective responsibilities.
Reverend Daniel went back to preparing his sermon. He would be opening for Reverend Bread in Tent number one, and he wanted to have the audience pumped up for the young reverend. Reverend Daniel had followed preachers that had left the congregation looking like someone had just drug a dead skunk up and down the aisles. Reverend Daniel knew he didn’t burn with the fire that he had in his twenties and thirties, but he felt like he still had a few strong messages left him. Hopefully tonight would be one of them. “It’s Not an Easy Road” was written in big block letters on the first 3×5 card. The Reverend continued to flip through the cards until he felt like he had his bullet points down.
Meantime, the Elders were walking about the parking lot; checking on concessions, checking on sound systems, checking on the appearance of the tents themselves. They paused to give an ear to any of the volunteer’s concerns, and offer solutions when possible. Most of the volunteers were up in the double digits of times they had worked the revivals, so they were well versed. This was the biggest revival by far, but the crew was well seasoned.
At 6PM, the Ladies Auxillary rang the big triangle signifying that supper was ready for the volunteers and the visiting ministers. The crowd descended on the picnic tables setup behind Tent number one for their evening meal. Tonight’s meal was a departure from the Southern fried theme. The Ladies were serving spaghetti and meatballs. It was fast and easy, and the leftovers could be easily taken home to feed their families. The loss of Hap Johnstone’s entourage had taken a lot of pressure off of the Ladies to prepare Southern delights. Besides, with spaghetti and meatballs, there were just two big pots to clean up after.
Reverend Daniel led the crowd in the blessing and the crowd wolfed down their meals. After eating, Reverend Bread walked by the Elders table to express his thanks again. As Reverend Bread turned to go, he looked back at Reverend Daniel. “Knock ’em dead”, the young reverend said with a wry grin, “but not really, you know.” Before anyone could question his meaning, Reverend Bread was gone.
The Elders went to their stations, and Reverend Daniel went back to the rectory to put on his coat and tie. He was rushing across the parking lot towards Tent number one when the lights began to flicker. It was time.