Pastor Matthew McMayhem stands at the pulpit proudly dressed in a three-piece suit and silk tie. Not a hair out of place, this man of God smiles as the spotlight shines down on him, creating an illusion of heavenly perfection as the cameras roll.
“Greetings! Welcome to ‘First-Church-of-the-Listen-to-Me-and-You-Will-Be-Saved.’”
The camera sweeps out into the audience and zooms in on the front row where Mrs. Mindy McMayhem sits with their ten-year old twin daughters, Misty and McKenna. All three smile sweetly, sporting Bibles in their laps and Kleenex in their hands.
Each and every Sunday morning, from 10:45 until noon, the McMayhems are on public display as the church service is broadcast throughout the whole of the state. Not only do people faithfully watch but they also flock to the small town to be a part of this modern day phenomenon. This day is no exception. The packed pews cause late-comers to stand at the door hoping to get a peek at this mighty man.
The newspapers tout them as being a “fine, upstanding Christian family.” The McMayhems are used by their viewers and members as a measuring stick to gauge how successful their marriages and families are.
Wives swoon at Pastor Matthew’s feet and look at their husbands in disgust.
Husbands look at Mrs. McMayhem in admiration and then look at their wives, wondering when they became so frumpy.
Mothers say to their children, “Look at little Misty and McKenna sitting still,” then the small ones whimper as mothers all across the sanctuary pinch little legs to get the culprits in line.
Children look at Misty and McKenna and wonder how many times their mom pinches them off-camera. How else could they sit so still?
The piano plays softly as Pastor McMayhem preaches. The choir sways as they are moved in the spirit of McMayhems words. As the excitement intensifies, the piano gets louder and the people shout in unison, “Amen!” and “Preach it, Brother!” Adult members sit at the edges of their seats, waiting for the next divine word to be spoken.
Pastor McMayhem uses phrases such as, “You, too, can be successful if only you…” and “for only $100 a week you, too, can have…” There is chaos as the congregation as one, rushes to get out checkbooks so as to be ready when the offering plate goes by.
Across the street, a small congregation of fifty gathers around their well-loved minister and his family to pray. The Taylors are going through hard times financially, as are many from the small community. The elders lay their hands on the couple. A sense of calmness spreads throughout the assembly as the spirit of the Lord fills the building. The people kneel at the altar and savor His presence. In the sweet quietness, the swell of music flows through their windows as the First-Church-of-the-Listen-to-Me-and-You-Will-Be-Saved’, blares out the closing song. A spirit of grieving falls on the people and they begin to pray for their neighboring church as well.
This Bible-teaching church closes their service with hugs. Not wanting to leave, men and women huddle in small groups to pray or rejoice over answered prayers. Tears run down faces and eyes sparkle. They know they have been witnesses to the very presence of God this Lord’s Day, even as the evil spirit across the street seeks to destroy them.
After the service, Pastor and Mrs. Taylor walk to their car several blocks away, due to the high volume of traffic from their neighboring church. They hold hands as they watch their children laugh and pull pranks on each other. Not sure of their future, they know that God is protecting them and their small but faithful congregation. This makes their steps light and their mood joy-filled.
As the Taylors near the ‘First-Church-of-the-Listen-to-Me-and-You-Will-Be-saved’, Pastor McMayhem and his family walk across the street to their large, two-story home.
Matthew scowls at his wife. “Why didn’t you tell me my button was undone?”
Mindy looks at her husband in disgust and snaps back, “It’s all I can do to keep these two brats in line. Besides that, you have that little blonde in the choir to shine your shoes and fix your tie. I’m surprised she didn’t notice!”
Pastor and Mrs. Taylor feel evil in the air as the two families pass by each other. “Good afternoon, Matt, Mindy.” Pastor Matthew acknowledges them with a flick of the wrist and continues to walk, spitting venom along the way.
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