Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Controller - Installment #16 in which Allen picks up his assignment

By the time Allen returns to the sanctuary, Pastor John is well into his sermon.

“Every one of you should be thinking like a servant. Jesus was the biggest servant of all. He washed people’s feet. Nothing was too humble for him. If your pastor asks you to clean the washroom, you should be only too happy to do it. You know why? Because you will be like Jesus, willing to do whatever it takes. And you will be blessed. Don’t think God doesn’t notice this stuff. The best servant is a willing servant. Don’t do whatever you are asked to do with a grudging spirit. Do it with all you might, cheerfully. And your reward will be great in this world and the next.”  
He goes on talking about armour bearers and about serving with an attitude of unquestioning loyalty. “If I ask you to carry my Bible you should jump at the chance. You are showing God that you do not despise His anointed.”

Allen shifts uncomfortably in his seat. He looks around. The people around him don’t seem to be bothered by Pastor John’s track. Allen is glad Melanie isn’t present to soak up the words. Melanie, his naive little sister….
“God, what do I do?”

Be here for her.

Allen sighs. He tunes out most of the rest of the sermon, all the while praying under his breath, he prays for Melanie and for all those at Powerhouse who could to be taking every word that comes out of Pastor John’s mouth as direction from God. He prays that their spiritual eyes and ears will be opened, that they will recognize the truth and that the truth will set them free.

After the service Allen can’t wait to get out into the fresh air, but decides he better find Melanie first or he could be waiting out in that parking lot a long time. He follows several young women down a hallway which, as he guesses, leads to the nursery. Melanie is busy signing over young children to their parents. He catches her attention and signals that he will wait for her outside.

Once out, he leans against his car which fortunately is parked in the shade of a tree. He watches as small groups of people exit the church and either turn to walk up the the street or head over to the cars in the lot. One after another, car doors slam, engines roar and the lot is empty except for his car and one next to the entrance. It is a good twenty minutes before Melanie arrives. “Sorry I kept you waiting. Pastor didn’t pick up his little boy until just now.”
Allen lets that pass. “Where would you like to go? I’m taking you out for lunch.”

They decide on Eddy’s. Neither Melanie nor Allen have been there for years. “I wonder if they still have those amazing brunches? Remember when Dad and Mom used to take us?” Melanie says.
At lunch Melanie asks the obvious, “So, what do you think of the church?”
Allen chooses just then to take a big bite of banana covered in chocolate sauce.

‘Lord, what do I tell her?’

He chews very deliberately, then shields his mouth with his hand. “Well, let’s see. It takes a bit of getting used to. You’ll have to give me a few more weeks before I can answer that question honestly.”
“Allen, you don't have to come to Pastor John's church if you don't like it. I thought you had a church?”
“I do or I did. It just doesn’t satisfy me anymore. Everything is so ritual. There is no, no real life. You know what I am saying? I’m looking for a place that connects with Jesus.” He stopped himself from saying anymore. 
“And you think Powerhouse might be the place?”
“I said I’m looking,” he takes another big bite of banana. Then he remembers the white-shirted man. Once he’s finished chewing he asks, “Melanie, there was this tall man, receding hairline, shiny forehead, white shirt and tie this morning. Who was that?”
“Shirt and tie? Nobody at Powerhouse wears that. Nobody.”
“Well there was somebody this morning.”
“I have no idea. How old was he?”
“I don’t know.”

The spent the rest of their time together reminiscing about their childhood. Afterward Allen drops Melanie back at the church, “We’re practicing for that play.”

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