Thursday, March 17, 2016

The Controller - Installment # 6 in which Allen is introduced to his sister's "church"

When Allen gets home that evening he finds Melanie, his sister, packing her things. Melanie and Allen have been sharing the living space in the family homestead ever since their mother died three years earlier. “I’m moving out.” Melanie tosses her long blonde hair sideways as she throws the things on her dresser into a box.
“Don’t worry. It’s all good. You know that church I’ve been going to…well a place in a house a few streets over from the church opened up and they invited me to live with them. It will be so much handier to get to stuff.”
“You sure this is a good idea? You already spend most of your spare time at that place.”
“That’s just it. Now I can walk there.”
“It’s your life, but….”
But, what?” 
Never mind.” Allen leaves her to it in her room and heads for the kitchen. He doesn’t want to say too much, after all he has never set foot in Melanie’s church. He just knows church has become a very big chunk of Melanie’s life since she started there a few months back.
Melanie pops her head into the kitchen, “You should check my church out sometime. You might really like it. The music is great. So is the pastor. He is so funny.”
“Okay, how about this Sunday?”
That settled it. They arrange for Allen to meet Melanie at Powerhouse Church that very Sunday.

Mork here, again. I’ve been talking to Mercy, Melanie’s guardian. Mercy has had her work cut out for her.

Sunday comes and Allen sets off for Powerhouse. He gets there just as the worship team finishes the sound check. Drums, electric guitars, huge amps…soon the place vibrates with sound. People, mostly young people start jumping up and down to ‘There is no God like Jehovah.’ Melanie finds Allen standing at the back of the darkened room. She leads him to a seat about a third of the way up in the long narrow room. She almost shouts as she introduces him to the young man in the seat next to her. “This is Ian. He lives in the house next to the one I live in.”
Five songs later, the pastor stands up and introduces himself as Pastor John and asks visitors to stand. “We’ve got a gift for you.”
Two ushers sweep the room handing out little packets to the visitors sprinkled throughout the congregation. Allen tries to stuff his packet in his pant pocket.
Melanie stops him.  “You are supposed to use the pen and fill out the questionnaire.” 
Obediently Allen follows her instruction. Pastor John is doing a talk on tithing, the best way to get favour with the Lord. He is rather passionate. When the collection plate comes by, Allen slides in his questionnaire with a $5 bill. He knows Melanie gives something as well, just how much Allen can’t tell.
Pastor John, head down, struts back and forth across the stage at the front of the church. Finally on his third pass he stops dramatically just left of centre stage. He lifts his finger and points at a woman seated directly in front of him. “You,” he says, “Yes, you. God wants you to know you need to make a clear decision. Don’t let anyone sway you. Not your parents, not your pastor, not anyone. You have to know in your heart what you have to do. It may not be easy, but sometimes you have to let go of things that are dear to you.”
The pastor puts his head back down and continues strutting. Then he turns, points at the drummer, “Hit it.”
The worship team members, who have been standing as still as idols, spring to life with, “Where you Go, I will Follow.”
After the song the worship team quietly leaves the stage and it becomes the Pastor John’s show. “I was walking to church today when I met some boys out there close to the church. They looked about ten and they were all looking at that old yellow dog that’s been hanging around here. I thought maybe they were thinking about hurting the dog so I asked them, ‘What are you doing to that dog? One of the young fellows told me, ‘This is a stray dog and we all want him, but only one of us can take him home. We decided that whoever tells the biggest lie can keep the dog.’
I was a little taken aback and told them they shouldn’t be telling lies and told them what God thinks about that. I told them that when I was their age I NEVER told a lie.  So they gave me the dog. He’s out in the parking lot.”
Melanie pokes Allen’s rib. “See, I told you he was funny.”
Allen grimaces, “Heard it before.”

The pastor is rambling on and Allen looks like he's somewhere else. I can tell he is thinking about Nick’s offer. Guardian angels can sense these things. Humans are in some ways very predictable. You basically have to watch the body language. His eyes are down and every once in a while he rubs his chin.
I can also see that Pastor John is sensing he is losing his audience—time for another joke. Ohhh, sorry, I got that wrong. He is saying something shocking instead.

“So that church the worship team and I visited last week, we don’t want to go there again. No siree. Not with the way the head pastor there is using the backroom to roll the secretary.”

He has the people paying attention now and he’s going right on with his sermon. Half of them are wondering if he actually said that.

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