Good morning, y’all. I don’t know that the comparisons could be made any stronger. Sane, rational people are making speeches at the Democratic National Convention, people who actually know something about government and the law. Meanwhile, the Donald is asking the Russians to see if they can recover Hillary’s personal emails to see if they contain any dirt. Simultaneously, Melania’s website and bio have been stricken from the internet. Between plagiarizing Michelle Obama’s speech, and overstating her qualifications, Melania has proven herself to be a perfect match for the Donald. Trump Tower, where the truth goes to die.
Speaking of looking for a spot to die brings us back to our retelling of the history of The Full Gospel Original Church of God. Sunday was a brisk cold day that brought out the faithful in their heavy winter clothes. Since there was not a cloak room in the little church, the congregation were forced to wear their outer clothes during the ceremony, or, place them under their seats. There was no room for personal items on the pews. The pews were jam packed with worshipers, and standing room now was at a premium.
Elder Cheatum decided to stand in the back of the church; his previous experience sitting next to Ted E. Bayer and his Love Fellowship had nearly deafened him. The Elder’s usual seat had been usurped by an Asian couple holding a small baby. The Elder reasoned that it was better for him to stand, than a paying customer. As the Elder looked across the congregation he could see that Reverend Helena’s appeal was cutting across all ethnic lines.The Asian couple were not the only minority in evidence.
Ted E. Bayer and the Love Fellowship were delivering the traditional Christmas carols with a funky overtone. The added spin to the timeless songs seemed to encourage the audience to be in a more cheerful mood. Certainly the appearance of the sanctuary raised everyone’s spirits. The Ladies Auxillary had decorated the church beautifully, using many natural and homemade decorations. A large twelve-foot Christmas tree stood in the place usually occupied by the altar. Elder Cheatum imagined it looked just as beautiful to the home viewers as it did in person.
As the Elder watched the service, he had the sense that the Reverend was particularly “on” this Sunday. It was the “Christmas service”, with Christmas day actually falling on Friday that week. As the Elder listened to the tone of the Reverend’s voice, he realized that Christmas seemed to have a lot of meaning for the Reverend.
The title of Reverend Handbasket’s sermon was, “If He Had Not Come“, and drew from the Bible verse, John 15:22, “If I had not come”. In the scripture, Jesus had asked his followers to imagine the world without his birth, just as Reverend Helena was asking her congregation to do now. Reverend Helena related the healings, the teachings, the examples for living a good life that the world would never have known had it not been for the birth of Christ. By the time she had gotten to the end of the sermon, she was emotionally spent from trying to imagine a world without Jesus.
At the Testament of Faith, it was revealed that not just Reverend Handbasket had special feelings for Christmas. Hugh Morris, who was generally thought to be in a coma during services, was so spirit filled this week that he was moved to leave his pew in the amen section and began to dance in the area reserved for the altar call. Whatever struck Brother Morris’s inner Chi, be it the slap bass of the Love Fellowship, or remembrances of Christmas past, something got him up on his toes.
The senior citizen’s dance took on elements of the Charleston and the Lindy Hop with overtures of the Watusi. Mr. Morris spun like a dervish all the way through all five choruses of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”. He didn’t stop dancing until the last “hallelujah!”, whereupon he dropped in a heap to sit cross legged in front of the Christmas tree. The feeling in the air was absolutely electric. As the people moved forward to answer the altar call, there was an air of uncertainty as to whether or not they too were supposed to display dance moves almost a century old.
As the broadcast crew used their hand held cameras to get a closeup of Hugh, his face was revealed to all of the congregation on the big screens mounted about the church. He seemed to be ok, he was catching his breath, but grinning like he just walked into the girl’s shower by accident. Oddly, there was also somewhat of a beatific look on the face of the Reverend Helen Handbasket.
“What is it about Christmas that reduces people to their child like selves”, wondered Elder Cheatum as he headed back to the office after services. Mulva Lite was separating the cash from the checks from each of the collection plates, and arranging them into neat little piles. She ran totals on each collection plate and then entered them into her spreadsheet. Next she bundled her piles with a bank deposit slip rubber banded to the stack.
“How’s it look”, the Elder asked as he sat down at the table.
“Real good”, the secretary/treasurer replied, “I’m always surprised that people will up their giving at Christmas time, when they have so many personal demands on their money.” “It seems like each Christmas people are starting to think more about others.” “It does my heart good.”
“Mine too”, the Elder said, “How are the collections looking from the Elders in training?”
“They’re consistent”, said Mulva as she placed the stacks in the night deposit bag. “If anybody is skimming anything, it’s nothing too big.” “It would probably be hard to pocket anything with all of these camera people running around during the service.” “You’d never know when you might be caught on live TV.”
“Well, I guess that’s another blessing the TV broadcasts have provided us.” the Elder said as he opened the door to the office so the pair could leave for the day. “I meant to ask, do you have a Reverend Dale update?”
“Just that Bud and I have kept their kids a couple of times for them so they could go out on dates.”, Mulva related, “It looks like Dale has moved in, which has got Bud in a snit, but I told him to calm down and see if they could work it out.”
“Well, you tell Bud we appreciate his charity and that I look forward to seeing his work on the webpage”, Elder Cheatum replied, “remind Bud that he’s building his stores in Heaven.”
“Oh, I do, I do” said Mulva as she got into her car, “but you know how Bud is.”
“Yes, I do”, said Elder Cheatum as he waved goodbye.