Good morning, y’all. You know, the funny thing about politics is that the family is supposed to be off limits to the criticsms and slanders thrown at the politician. I think that should apply as long as the family doesn’t decide to mix it up politically. Then I think they’re open to all of the scrutiny due the candidate. All of that said, Melanoma plagiarized and lied or just plain lied, and then plagiarized. Either way, it was a fitting kickoff to the Republican National Convention. Business as usual. Liars in the house!
Speaking of half truths brings us back to our retelling of the history of The Full Gospel Original Church of God. Elder Cheatum knocked on the door of the rectory, excited with the proposal he was about to unfold. The Reverend Helena Handbasket came to the door in jeans and, what looked like, multiple sweatshirts. Elder Cheatum was happy to see that the outer layer at least, was a University of Georgia sweatshirt.
“Hey, sorry to interrupt, I just wanted to set up this generator for you to use until power is restored” , the Elder said as he pointed at the generator in the wheelbarrow behind him. “It’s not much power, but it will keep some of the lights on and the refrigerator cold.”
“Oh, thanks so much”, the Reverend responded, “I don’t know how long this ‘no power’ thing is supposed to last.” “I’m about out of candles.” The Reverend continued, “There’s not too much in the refrigerator, I’m not one who stores up a lot of stuff.”
“Well that’s good, I guess”, said the Elder, “I’ll just hook this up for you.” “I’d like for you to think about something while I’m getting it going, if you would”.
“What’s that?” the Reverend answered.
“Well, I’m thinking that a lot of folks in the area wait for the revivals to receive healing, and we missed that chance this week.” “I was wondering if you would consider doing a healing instead of the altar call tomorrow.”
“Oh, I don’t have to think about that”, the Reverend said, “I’m happy to use whatever gifts I have as often as I can.” The Reverend continued, “As I recall, I was told that your custom was to wait for revivals, and so I’ve just been honoring your guidelines.”
“Yes, that’s true, that’s been our policy, but everything has gotten kind of wonky jaw with the ice storm and all.” The Elder replied. “If you don’t mind, I’d like to get the phone tree started and get the word out that tomorrow is going to be special.” “It might raise people’s spirits from the disappointment about the revival.”
“That’s just fine”, the Reverend replied, “are there any special rules or guidelines I need to know about?”
“Yes, since you asked”, the Elder responded, “there is to be absolutely no reliance on any external devices.”
“Gotcha”, the Reverend said,” just me and whatever God gave me, I got it.” “Anything else?”
“I think that’s all, I’ll get the phone tree started and also alert Channel 99 that there will be a divergence in the program,” the Elder answered. “Now, give me about three shakes of a lamb’s tail and we’ll get you some power going.”
The Elder called Jed Dye, the producer at Channel 99, about the program changes from his car. Jed related that the crew coming on Sunday would have the “mobile studio” truck that had full backup power. The two men congratulated each other on what a successful relationship they had forged, and then Elder Cheatum was on to his next call.
“Hello, Mulva?””This is Buster Cheatum””I need you to get the phone tree started, the all souls list.” “We’re going to do healing tomorrow, and we need to get the word to everybody.” “Can you do that?”
Mulva replied that with the help of the Ladies Auxillary she could call everybody in the state by tomorrow morning, if need be. Elder Cheatum replied that the ‘all souls’ list would be a plenty, and he wished her a good rest of the day.
Sunday was a bright and beautiful day. The parking lot was filling up for Sunday school, and that had never happened before. Mulva and the ‘Ladies’ had apparently done their work well. Elder Cheatum noticed license plates from Kentucky, South Carolina, Florida and Alabama joining the usual suspects, Georgia, North Carolina and Tennessee. “Oh my, oh my, oh my”, the Elder thought to himself as he entered the sanctuary. The auditorium was half full; and it was an hour and half before services. When the Elder returned from Sunday School he could see there was no point in going to his usual spot at the front door to act as greeter. The church was full to the rafters, with people in wheelchairs lining the walls.
Rather than trying to wedge himself into his appointed spot, the Elder took a folding chair and placed it at the back of the stage, out of sight. As Ted E. Bayer and his Love Fellowship played the gathering hymn, the Elder realized he was too close to the band. “I’m probably going to need to have Reverend Helena heal my ears after this is over”, he thought to himself.
As the Reverend Helena Handbasket strode to the pulpit, the Elder caught himself in thought. “I know most of it is presentation.” “The red hair, the white flowing robes, the way she moves like a dancer on the stage.” “Helena could not be any more feminine, and yet her voice is as strong and confident as any man’s.” “There’s something here, and clearly I’m not the only one who can see it.”
Between the Reverend and The Love Fellowship, the faithful were jumping and jiving even before the Testament of Faith. After the Reverend Handbasket made the move from the pulpit to the main floor, there were just a few people left in the pews. It was a sight never witnessed before. Even after the snakes were brought out, the crowd stayed on their feet dancing to the music of the choir. The rhythm of the Reverend Handbasket moving about as she wrangled the serpents, set the tempo for the rest of the acolytes.
Since the service was televised, and the worshipers in wheelchairs didn’t have the mobility one would need to avoid runaway snakes, the serpent wrangling was kept to a minimum. The Reverend Helen Handbasket kept everything “close to the vest”. The Reverend didn’t allow any of the snakes to be handled by anyone other than herself. She did a fine job getting through the entertainment portion of the show with minimal liability exposure.
The altar call looked like the scene from the movie “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest” where everyone was lined up for their medications. There were folks in line that didn’t know where they were, but they knew they were going to receive a miracle. To her credit, The Reverend Helen Handbasket didn’t make folks “take up their bed and walk”, like some of the old school evangelists do. Reverend Helena also didn’t cause any neck damage by laying hands so forcefully that the sick were dumbfounded. All and all, The Reverend conducted herself with grace and dignity through the three and a half hours it took to lay hands on each person requesting a blessing. Even Hugh Morris and his chronic prostate condition was handled with the respect of a doctor for their patient.
“Well, we don’t know, what we don’t know”, said Elder Wiley as the group sat in the office after the last pilgrim had been healed. “I’m just wondering how our one day extravaganza compares to a week long revival.” Elder Wiley continued, “Obviously today was tough on Reverend Helena, but she got it all out of the way in one day instead of spread out over a week”.
“I hate like the dickens giving all of that stuff away for free, but it was the right thing to do”, said Elder Cheatum. “I guess you might say we have ‘cast out bread upon the waters'”. “Now we’ll just have to wait to see if it comes back tenfold, or if we wind up with soggy bread.”
“Speaking of soggy Bread, I didn’t see Reverend Dale in the audience today”, said Elder Wiley, “I guess he was afraid of fratricide after last week.”
“Wouldn’t you?” asked Elder Diggum. “Seems to me like that boy of his has picked sides, and he doesn’t favor his daddy.”
“Mulva, how are you doing?” asked Elder Cheatum.
“I’ve checked three times, and I think I’m right”, Mulva replied, “Keep in mind we’ve got a lot of checks, so you can’t count them until they clear.”
“We know,” said Elder Cheatum, “We just wanted a ball park figure.”
“The ball park is eleven-thousand-eight-hundred and eighty-five dollars”, the secretary/treasurer reported.
“That’s a nice ball park”, said Elder Diggum. “Maybe we should revisit the idea of just doing healings at revival time”, the Elder said to the group.
“We’ll have to get an assessment of how Reverend Helena is feeling before we start the discussion,” Elder Cheatum commented, “Mulva can you check in with her before you go home?”
“Sure, I’d be happy to”, Mulva replied.
“Ok, then we’ll leave you to it”, Elder Cheatum continued, “It will be good to get the deposit in the night deposit box tonight if you can”. The Elders left the office together, all making comments about the unusual turn of events during the week.
“God moves in a mysterious way; His wonders to perform; He plants His footsteps in the sea, and rides upon the storm”, said Elder Wiley.
“I’ve always wondered; where in the scripture can I find that verse?” asked Elder Diggum.
“The verse you seek is from a very old hymn by William Cowper”, replied Elder Wiley. “It’s so old I guess most folks think it’s from the Bible.”
“Live and learn, live and learn”, said Elder Diggum.
The three friends parted company for a few days. They were more than satisfied with Winter Revival 2015.