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Reminder: My stories are always total fiction. Yet some real events and some real places may be used to add reality.

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by Macout Mann


Summer came. Joe returned home. His ordination would take place before he returned to school.

His father was having second thoughts about his choice of vocation.

"Son," he said, "are you sure you want to go through with this? You know, you might never get called to a big church, where you would have a good salary."

"You know, Dad," Joe laughed, "I love our family's lifestyle. But if I was worried about money, I'd become a radio or tv preacher, and milk the listeners, like they all do."

"Surely you don't feel that way about all media ministries," his father responded. "I know there've been a couple of bad apples, but..."

"Dad, I could buy fifteen minutes a day on the local `Christian radio station' and support myself for the rest of my life. Go national and I could be a billionaire. No, I want to minister to whoever God calls me to pastor to."

"What about your wife and kids? They've got to be supported?" his father countered.

"If I do ever find `the right girl,'" Joe answered, "She'll feel just like I do."

So that "the powers that be" would think he was still looking for the right girl, Joe continued to date. He had no trouble lining up potential girlfriends.

As Joe's ordination came closer, he still tried to embrace the traditional "Christian" and especially "Evangelical" attitude toward sex. He avoided Malcolm and Wilbur. He prayed a lot.

He had told the pastor how much Ron had helped him to accept his call and that he had invited Ron to the ordination. The pastor responded by inviting Ron to preach on Sunday morning before the ordination. It would take place at the evening service. (There would be fewer worshipers, hence not so many people to lay hands on the ordinand).

Ron was also invited to overnight at the Scanlon's. He made quite an impression on both of Joe's parents. There was no opportunity for him and Joe to get together, so Joe would never know what Ron might have done. Still, Joe was glad he could remain "good" on the eve of his ordination.

Ron intended his sermon to be predictable and hopefully non-controversial. The morning service began like many in urban Baptist Churches. There was a Doxology, sung to Old Hundredth, a tune written for Calvinist Psalmody by Louis Bourgeois, an invocation, and the Gloria Patri, set to a tune by the son of an organist at Westminster Abbey. There was a Scripture Reading. Ron had requested a passage about temptation from the tenth chapter of First Corinthians. A long Pastoral Prayer followed. These were interspersed with an anthem and a hymn. Then the guest preacher was introduced by the pastor, who ended his introduction by saying, "Rev. Bannister will bring us his message after this special music."

During the "special music" the morning offering was taken, and then Ron began.

"As your pastor has said, I am here to see one of your fine young men ordained as a Minister of the Gospel later today. You might say that I have been his pastor while he's at college, and I have found Joseph Scanlon to be a dedicated Christian, whose vocation is certain, one truly directed by Christ himself.

"And yet," he continued, "now, in the Twenty-first Century, we must marvel that there are young men like Joe. As a minister to college students I see from day to day how young people, like Joe, are tempted as they have never been before.

"Sure, temptation has been around forever. Paul deals with it in the lesson we heard read earlier. Weren't Adam and Eve tempted by the serpent in the Garden of Eden? But now, temptation is online, enticing us with the promise of fruits much more exciting, much more pleasant than the fruit of a tree in an ancient garden.

"My brothers and sisters, we have all succumbed to impure thoughts. We are all human after all. But today, a computer keyboard can transport our sons and daughters beyond thoughts. They can become involved with alcohol, drugs, even pornography at the touch of a mouse."

Ron knew, of course, that the majority of parents listening to his voice, if they were really listening at all, would be thinking, "My Johnny wouldn't be involved in anything like that," but he soldiered on. Better to let them know what was happening in the real world. He hoped that younger people in the congregation might hear what he was saying, but he had to use language unoffensive to their elders.

"Whatever temptations our young people face, we can only pray that they will not yield to them," he concluded.

Ron had been told that he was to issue "the invitation." So he said, "Are there those here who feel that they can overcome the threat of temptations by giving their lives up to Christ? Come forward and make your profession as we sing. Come forward too to transfer your membership by letter, promise of a letter, or statement. Let us stand."

The hymn was "Yield not to temptation."

After the service a number of congregants sought out Joe to wish him well. Others congratulated Ron on a "splendid sermon." Malcolm came to shake Joe's hand.

"So great you've been able to avoid temptation. Especially that preacher. He's hot as hell," he teased.

"Fuck you, Malcolm," Joe spat under his breath.

Later that afternoon, Ron sat with Joe's parents as they watched Joe become The Reverend Joseph Scanlon. They joined the other members of the congregation in laying hands on Joe's head. Joe prayed that he would be up to the tasks ahead.

Copyright 2015 by Macout Mann. All rights reserved.