Good morning, y’all.The news has brought us the sad tidings that over 250 people are confirmed dead in the Italy earthquakes. It is that horrible time when the mission goes from “rescue” to “recovery”. There is hope that more people will be rescued, but the clock is ticking against them. The body can only go a few days without water, and that time limit is rapidly approaching.
Speaking of things that one cannot live without brings us to the retelling of the history of The Full Gospel Original Church of God. The church leadership committee met promptly after Prayer Meeting on Wednesday night. Mulva and Reverend Helena seemed to be speaking in conspiratorial tones when the Elders entered the office. They quickly hushed their conversation as the Elders entered.
“Okay, show of hands, who all knew that Reverend Dale was working at Walmart”, asked Elder Cheatum as he sat down. All committee members raised their hands.
“Okay”, the Elder said as he looked at Mulva, “why didn’t anybody think it was important enough to tell me?”
Mulva looked down at her paperwork as she responded, “because it didn’t seem like a big deal”. “It’s a short time thing until he can get caught up with his bills and get a little put back for the new baby.”
The secretary/ treasurer looked up to see that Elder Cheatum was fuming.
“We took away his health insurance when we fired him”, continued Mulva, “what’s he supposed to do?” “I asked Elder Wiley if we should start taking care of his coverage again, but he said to wait and see what happened.” “I guess Reverend Dale just got tired of waiting to see what would happen, and he went an got a job, just like a man’s supposed to do.”
The secretary/treasurer was emboldened by her own words, “It’s not like we don’t have five hundred dollars a month to make sure that those children have adequate medical care”. “If we can’t do for our own, who can we do for?”
The room was deadly silent. Finally Elder Cheatum spoke in a much less aggressive tone.
“I guess you’re right”, he said, “tell Reverend Dale that we are reinstating his family’s health care immediately and that the church will handle any expenses he has until he’s reinstated.”
Elder Cheatum continued, “Also tell him that he will receive ten percent of his collections each week if he quits his Walmart job immediately.” “That should take care of them adequately with the housing allowance we’ve been providing.”
Mulva looked Elder Cheatum square in the eye as she said, “I’ll tell him, I’m sure they will all be relieved.”
“Good”, replied Elder Cheatum, “and one more thing, there are to be no secrets in this group.” “If anyone knows anything that can reflect poorly on this ministry, the whole committee is to know about it immediately.” “Are we understood?”
Mulva met the Elder’s gaze again and said , “Yes”.
“Good”, responded Elder Cheatum as he rose from his chair. “Alvin”, he said as he looked at Elder Wiley, “I’ve got somewhere else to be, will you bring me a copy of the financials tomorrow?”
Before Elder Wiley could answer, Elder Cheatum was gone. The remaining members continued the meeting to its completion although their souls weren’t in it. The confrontation had cast an overall pall on the group. The “Goodnights” and “See you in church” were halfhearted as the group left for their homes.
Mulva decided to attend services at the Little Church in the Valley that Sunday. She hoped to restore her soul with the years of positive memories that she felt every time she took her place in the third row from the altar. It was as if the wood of the pew could transmit feelings directly to her cerebral cortex, assuring her that she was at the right place, doing the right thing.
Just as Mulva was feeling her faith being restored, pandemonium broke out in the center aisle of the sanctuary. The conflict arose when Ms. Anita Goodman was sliding into her pew behind Alva Bread and her brood. As Ms. Goodman slid into the pew, Alva Bread turned to acknowledge another believer, and then noticed that Ms. Goodman was wearing the exact same pin that Reverend Dale had gifted her the day before.
The two women noticed the similarity about the same time and flew into each other. In fairness, it was more Alva Bread flying into Anita Goodman, but, Anita Goodman did give a good accounting of herself. While Ms. Goodman did a fine job of defending herself, she was outnumbered five or six to one. Before Mulva could get to the combatants, some of the Bread’s older children had joined in the fray. Devin, the eldest Bread, was doing the most damage with a hymnal he had picked up. Eventually both adversaries were retired to their respective corners, or pews, and the service got under way.
Mulva returned to her pew more confused about her role and mission than ever before. It was like no matter how she tried to set right the cart of Reverend Dale and his family, fate, or something seemed determined to turn it over again. As she pondered the meaning of the most recent events, she was astounded at the title of Reverend Dale’s sermon; “As You Reap, So Shall You Sow”.
The actual quote was from Galatians, 6:7, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” As a firm believer in signs, Mulva, was convinced that the great beyond was sending messages to the Little Church in the Valley, and that God was no longer using shorthand to deliver the message. The reality that the sermon had probably been set at least a week ago was not lost on Mulva. The fact that the Right Reverend Dale E. Bread was not prepared to change his sermon on a moment’s notice did not challenge Mulva’s belief that the “Lord was working in mysterious ways”.
As Mulva watched the Testament of Faith and the altar call, she wondered how a man who could be so close to the holy spirit be so unable to control his baser desires. It was a mystery that she knew she would never solve. As Mulva went to the office to do her count, she debated whether to give the Reverend Dale the good news about the stipend. Mulva realized today’s confrontation would likely resolve in Reverend Dale being fired again. She remembered her Daddy joking about giving a man a raise so that he could “fire him from a better job”. As she place the items in the bank deposit bag she determined to wait until later before talking to Reverend Dale. “To let sleeping dogs lie, you need to let them go to sleep first”, Mulva thought. She drove to TackyToo with a heavy heart.