This story is by Chad Smith and was part of our 2018 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
Several hundred people sit in a chapel singing. Edwina, a cute old gal, in her early nineties, tickles the ivories. Beatrice, a younger woman, pushing about eighty, leads the singing.
Reverend Jones, RJ for short, is in his late sixties. He wears glasses, not because he needs them, but because it gives him more of a distinguished look, along with a greater sense of humility. He stands in the hallway alone; he is waiting for the right time to make his entrance. He always makes a theatrical appearance when moved upon, by the spirit. He was reeking of the spirit that day.
RJ, slightly opens the door and peeks through the crack. At that exact moment, the door flies open and smacks him betwixt the eyes. It sends him sprawling backwards, cracking the back of his noggin against the wall, coldcocking him.
He wakes up and sees little Katie, a six-year-old, standing over him and holding his glasses. The glasses are bent very badly. She hands them to him saying, “You’ve got a bad bump on your head.”
He touches his forehead and winces; he stands up but is woozy. Katie steadies him. He rubs the back of his head and squints in pain, feeling an even bigger bump. He slides his glasses on, but the fit is lopsided.
“What are you doing in the hall?” asked RJ.
“I came out to get a drink,” replied Katie.
“Be quick about it; then back inside you go.”
She takes a sip from the water fountain and then goes back in the chapel. “So much for my grand entrance” RJ mutters. All of a sudden, he had a revelation–no one has seen what happened!
“Good fortune smiles on the righteous.”
Inside the chapel, Agnes sits by Ethel, both sing from the same hymn book. Ethel turns to Agnes and asks, “Where’s RJ?”
“You know the Reverend, when filled with the spirit, he always makes a theatrical entrance.”
RJ quickly messes up his hair and unloosens his tie. He rips the pocket off his suit and tosses it in the trash. The organ and singing stop. He goes to open the door; then pauses. He takes a deep breath and pops himself right smack dab, in the snoot. Not real hard mind you, just enough to start a minute nose bleed. He enters the chapel, and everyone gasps, deeply. Edwina hits a sour note on the organ, by accident.
In a dignified manner, RJ walks to the podium and places both hands on the pulpit. He gazes at everyone in true form. You could hear a pin drop, although the chapel was carpeted to boot.
“If I didn’t believe in God one hour ago, I do now,” RJ exclaimed.
Everyone begins to feel the spirit descending on them, in a glorious fashion. They know RJ is about to give witness, to things of a higher nature.
“Last week I had a disagreement with a sister of our fold, over something quite trivial. We both walked away having hard feelings. I thought, today would be a good day to make amends, knowing it wouldn’t be right for me, to deliver a sermon, without the spirit.”
He drinks from a glass sitting on the pulpit, and then continues. “She was a woman that had been known to give into anger, so as a precaution, I slipped on my athletic supporter.”
Agnes turns to Ethel saying, “Myrtle.”
“When I got to her house, we sat down. She, too, was prompted by the spirit, to make amends. We had a heartfelt reconciliation. I left her home, with a heart full of joy.”
He drinks again. “As I was walking back here, I got within a block of the church, when two thugs jumped me. They didn’t even have the guts to approach me, like a man. I was blindsided from behind. Before I realized what was happening, I was on the ground. I’m not a man prone to violence, but when moved by the spirit, miracles happen.”
RJ takes his glasses off and wipes his forehead with a hanky, then tucks it inside his suit pocket, as he sets his glasses on the pulpit.
“Within a matter of seconds, I had the tables turned on those two hoodlums–a karate chop here, a jab there, and a judo flip into the shrubs-”
At that moment, Frosty, one of the congregants, sporting a brother Brigham beard that flowed down to his belt buckle, stands up, and raising his fist in the air, shouts “Amen Padre!” The congregation gives a subtle amen, and a thankful praise to the Lord.
RJ continues, “They took off running like frightened mice. Mind you, I bear no ill-will towards them; lost souls they are, in dire need of the Lord’s grace. If they would have stuck around, I would have ministered to them, in a loving, spiritual way, and perhaps even converted them.”
Everyone is overwhelmed by the spirit, but little Katie. Now for the most part, Katie paid little heed to his sermons, and RJ knew this. Most of the time, she would sit next to her mother and color. Or she would lay on the floor, gazing at the ceiling, wishing she was someplace else, but not today. Katie knew she was a big part of RJ’s revelation that day. Maybe those bumps on the reverend’s head, were more severe than she thought, so she decided to set things straight with her mother.
Mother gently puts her hand over Katie’s mouth and whispers in her ear, “The Reverend is in a state of grace right now, and if you keep talking out loud like that, you’re going to sore his spirit.”
She takes her hand off her mouth and Katie try’s to speak again, but mother gives her a stern look; putting her finger against her lips.
RJ talked for an hour that day, about love and forgiveness. It was his greatest sermon that he had ever given, since he gave witness of his conversion. It was back in ‘67, or was it ’69?
It was either the summer of love, or Woodstock, during his drug days… oh, I mean hippie days, when RJ was a devout disciple, preaching against the establishment, and those who called themselves, “Guardians of the Gospel.” In his own words, “They pose as shepherds, preaching the word of God, in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves; teaching for pelf and divining for dollars, not knowing that the true meaning of life, is love, not money.”
As RJ delivers his sermon, the donation plates are being passed around; filling to the brim, with that green stuff, that makes the world go-round.
At the end of his sermon, RJ reaped a rich harvest, financially speaking: not twofold, not threefold, but fivefold better than ever before.
RJ is outside, surrounded by a crowd. He is shaking hands and reassuring everyone that he is fine. Many pat him on the back, and congratulate him, for dishing out tough love, to a couple of whippersnappers, and at the same time, having a heart full of love and forgiveness.
RJ absorbs it all with much dignity and humility. Then he raises his hands, motioning for everyone to be silent.
“I am very thankful today, for being able to fleece my flock- er… I, I mean, I am thankful that you good people, are a part of the flock that I have been made the shepherd thereof. You all have been very generous towards the Lord this day, he is well pleased, and he hopes that you will continue with the generosity.”
Katie’s mother speaks up, “Today’s sermon was inspired; faith, love, forgiveness, and generosity. Not only has it been expressed in words, but more so by deeds. The world could use a lot more men like you.”
A few more Amen, come from the crowd.
“Thank you, thank you all.” “A man of God can only speak as the spirit gives him utterance; I just do what I’m called on to do.”
Katie tugs on RJ’s suit coat. RJ looks down at her. Katie opens her mouth to speak, but RJ interrupts her.
“You know Katie, as your Pastor I feel I should give you some spiritual advice. The spirit moves in many ways. Sometimes it comes upon us to speak in tongues, other times to heal the sick, or preach a powerful sermon. However; every once in a while, it will fall upon us to remain silent.”
He reaches down and shakes her hand, palming her a twenty, unbeknownst to anyone, but Katie. Her eyes grow wide and she pauses, causally putting her hand in her dress pocket, and smiles. RJ walks to the church door and then turns to the crowd.
“Remember, when moved by the spirit, react prudently, and you will find hidden treasures in abundance.”