Reverend Mosley surveyed the restless crowd. Grown men fidgeting in their seats like five-year-old boys, their wives sliding them mean glances here and there. Mrs. Hooper was seated at the organ across from Mrs. Smith at the piano ready for a duel. I preferred the deep organ chords, and they way they took the music and built it into a crescendo battle, of sorts. It was five minutes until twelve noon on Superbowl Sunday, 1979 on the day that the Dallas Cowboys played the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Even as the choir bellowed, “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot,” we saw the look in the Reverend’s eyes. It was a comin’ to Jesus meeting in the making. Somehow I knew staring at the back of Alice White’s shapely curls, that the fried chicken was gonna be cold that day and that the time for kickoff was rapidly approaching. I looked nervously at Benny and Clint. Their eyes had glazed into a hard stare on the back of the oak church pew in front of them. It was the same stare we all adopted sometimes during history class lecture. I looked over at Ed Stephens and tried to concentrate on his John Lennon tattoo which looked more like a wizard or something weird. Tick tock, my watch was screaming at me. Reverend Mosley rose and walked to the pulpit. Click, click, click went his Sunday shoes tapping on the floor. He looked down momentarily, then slowly lifted his eyes to take in his flock. All was quiet. Finally, it was time for the closing argument, the one where it would be up to us to decide the fate of our souls if we had not accepted Him into our hearts.
“In a couple minutes, ya’ll are gonna go home. And turn on the Tee Vee. Where we get all our information, all the time. Yes indeed. In-For-Mation! These times we live in. These times right now. There is peril out there. Oh yes, and deception. Can I ask you, what is ruling our lives? What is ruining our lives? Is the television set the most important thing?”
I could feel myself in shouting inside my head….Don’t do it, man, Don’t do it, Reverend.
“Is it Jesus or the Dallas Cowboys? Jesus or the Cowboys? I say to all of you right here, right now, Jesus is more important! Yes, Jesus.”
“Amen Reverend!” shouted Mr. Simmons from the front, and with that, a stampede ignited toward the door. Nobody looked back. I’ll bet Reverend Mosley was even glad the Cowboys lost that year.