Good morning, y’all. The rumors of torrential rains were just that, rumors. We got a few sprinkles, and then the sun came out and made a perfect day. Well, weather-wise a perfect day. If I’m telling the absolute truth, I was hoping to have the torrential downpours. I was going to invoke the responsibility of “Park Manager” to avoid the trip to Blairsville to the grand opening of The Full Gospel Original Church of God. With all of the scenes of trailer parks underwater in Louisiana and Texas, it would have been an easy sell to say my services were more needed at TackyToo than at church. Unfortunately, Mother Nature and the Channel 11 WhizOMeter let me down.
I did manage to convince Mulva that we needed to go in separate cars. Mulva goes early and stays late. I didn’t want to be that person saying “can we go now?, can we go now?, can we go now?” until I finally pried Mulva loose. Mulva’s got responsibilities with the church, in addition to the fact that she just plain enjoys the company of the other folks. I’m not a big “mixer”, and I’m certainly not a big church goer. I can generally find a couple of folks to talk to for a few minutes, but by and large, it’s not my crowd.
Since I’m not allowed to discuss religion with anyone, most especially the Elders or Preachers, I kind of just come to see the show. Once the show’s over, there’s no need for me to hang around. I generally head over to the IHOP for lunch before heading back home. This probably sounds like a weird arrangement to most folks, but what can I say? All marriages make compromises and this is one of ours. I get four hours a week to worship my Bulldogs, and Mulva gets four hours a week to do her worshipping. I don’t remember any marriage vow that said we had to worship the same things.
Well, I pull up to the house of worship and you’d have thought Georgia was playing Alabama in Athens. The parking lot was past full. There were cars parked up and down the streets for four blocks in every direction. After I park, I walked to the parking lot where I found the Channel 99 in Blairsville truck commandeering a huge amount of space. They had five or six people milling around the truck and more on the inside. They had setup a big screen on top of the truck and there were a hundred or so worshippers gathered around watching the service from the parking lot. As tempting as it was to watch the service in a less claustrophobic setting, I headed inside. I knew Mulva was waiting for me and had saved me a seat. I hope she saved enough room.
I found her sitting third row on the right, on the aisle, same as always. Seats in church are sort of handed down from generation to generation. Your pew assignment is generally a sign of the social status of your family within the church. The holiest of the holy/ big donors are in the rows closest to the altar. The holiness/contributions of the families diminish as you go away from the altar. Being in the front rows also makes it easier for the preacher to recognize you to the congregation for your latest contribution. Now, if you’re one of the high up muckety mucks, you don’t have to sit in the front row. In fact, you can sit anywhere you darn well please, and that will be your spot forever. It is just that generally folks like to be “moved up”.
I could see that the pecking order from the old church was going to be preserved in the new “Crystal Palace”. Mulva’s spot in the third row was plenty close enough for me. In truth, I prefer to be a member of the faceless crowd rather than to have the preacher look me directly in the eye when they delivered a point. I’m sensitive that way.
I’m also sensitive to loud music, and whoever was working the sound system must have been deaf. The notes of “Holy, Holy, Holy” were about to break the stained glass windows when they suddenly stopped and the Reverend Helen Handbasket appeared on the stage. Now I would get to see for myself what all of the fuss has been about.