Read Out Sunday

This is how Sue gave her life to God and got back her virginity.

That Sunday was church as usual. The same women as always in Jesus hats, their hands raised and their eyes squeezed so tightly shut as if by sheer willpower they were going to transfigure themselves out of Satan's clutches and into the arms of the Saviour. These were the kinds of women whose lives were in constant peril—always having to spin themselves out of the reach of demons, always walking with a bottle of olive oil ready to sprinkle it on the heads of imaginary serpents. But when Pastor Desmond climbed up on the pulpit, it was not the ever present danger of hell he preached, nor the vigilance one must practice to fight Lucifer and his cohorts each day. Pastor Desmond instead spoke on the miracle of forgiveness. He told them God had a great memory, but an even greater forgetter. And after God forgave, you were a sinner no more. So bad man could be made meek. And t'ief could be made honest. And for those who had fallen by the wayside (Fallen pastor! Fallen!), they could be made like virgins again. And so it was that Sue Moses sprang up out of her seat, bawling living eye water, ran to the altar and flung herself down. She carried on and she carried on, such a cowbawling they had never seen before at Mount Sinai Church of God. Even Sister Mabel—Sister Mabel who once called Sue the whore of Babylon (Yu got a Jezebel spirit in yu, girl!)—even she was moved to go up and hug Sue and lead her in prayer to the Lord.

But some people just too wretched and cannot be saved no matter what. Either that, or they too simpleminded. Because now that Sue found out sinners could be forgiven, and virginity could be restored, she proceeded to lose hers every Saturday night and restore it every Sunday morning. After all, the things Sue enjoyed most in life were church and sex, but until now she had felt she could never really have them both. Well, now she could and did, screaming in pleasure one night, and bawling in repentance the next morning.

Well, old people say every tree must bear its fruit, and what is to is must is. In fact, it was a wonder what happened next hadn't happened sooner: Sue, a perfectly healthy seventeen-year-old girl, got pregnant. Poor Sue. Simpleminded Sue. She could not understand it—how could she be a virgin and pregnant? Wasn't God supposed to restore her, erase the past, make things new? Wasn't that what Pastor promised? And even though Sue wasn't the most brilliant girl, she knew she had never heard of any virgin being pregnant...

. . . and that's when it came to her. Mary, the mother of Jesus! Immaculate conceptions. Sue fell down on her knees in astonishment and whispered a prayer, "Thank you, Lord. Thank you fi choosing me."

Well, Sister Mabel, who was not as unfamiliar with sin as she would have had people believe, was the first to notice the very slight rise in Sue's stomach and that motherly change in her countenance. So the older woman held back the girl one Sunday and told her, "Look, girl. Get rid of it. Drink some Pepsi with a rusty nail in it. Rub green pawpaw seed 'pon yu belly. Whatever you do, get rid of it. Don't bring down shame 'pon youself."

But Sue followed her own program, because what could be shameful in being the mother of God? Her belly grew and grew and people began to frown. It was the way Sue acted so proud that most rattled them—this girl who had never learned how to study her feet in the presence of older people, how to bite her lips and wring her hands appropriately. Sue would look you straight in the eyes and talk and laugh like nothing was wrong. The members at Mount Sinai tried, they really tried. One sister gave this testimony, "You have some girls who spread them legs for any man!" and everybody look sideways at Sue who only lift up her hands and shout "Amen!" Pastor preached about the woman at the well, but Sue remained shameless.

Nothing left to do but to read her out. On that Sunday it was church as usual. The same women as always in Jesus hats, their hands raised and their eyes squeezed shut. Pastor Desmond climbed up to the pulpit and a collective shiver ran across the congregation. He started, "Brethren and sistren, there is an animal in this world, that I don't like."

The church responded, "Mmm!"

"I like every other animal except this one. I just don't like goats. No Sah!"

"No, Pastor!"

"Goats are the most stubbornest creatures you ever come across. You tell them to go this way, they go that way. You tell them to move and they don't budge. No brethren, I can't take them!"

"Oh no!"

"But I am here to tell you today, that we have some goats sitting amongst us . . ."

"Preach it!"

"Some of us too stubborn. God tell us to do things and we don't do them. Him tell us not to do other things and those are the things we do! Him tell us, 'Go and sin no more,' and we don't listen!"

"Amen!"

"Some of you in here is living in sin! But can I tell you brethren and sistren," his voice dipping, "the Lord says he shall separate the sheep from the goats. Somebody say Se-Pa-Rate!"

"Se-Pa-Rate!"

"He don't want the goats mixing up with the sheep! He wants them to Se-Pa-Rate!"

And to the church's astonishment, Sue rose up out of her seat, six months' worth of belly and all, and shouted in her squeaky voice, "Hallelujah! Tell it, Preacher! Tell it!" O what a brazen girl! What an unconscionable wretch! Pastor Desmond could think of nothing else but to shout back, "Sue Moses, you is the goat amongst us!"

The church was suddenly silent. No one responded, and the pastor shouted again, the words which were lingering in the silence, "Sue Moses, I say that you is a goat!" and Sister Mabel cleared her throat, "Tell it, Preacher. Tell it like it is."

"Sue, you is a goat living in sin, and we don't want to mix up with you no more. We want you out!"

"Out, Preacher. Out!"

"We want you ouuuttttt!"

Poor Sue. Simpleminded Sue. No room in the inn for her. But still, she had the glory of the Lord inside her and all over her face. The pastor screaming at her, telling her to leave, the whole church amen-ing behind him, and all she could think was Forgive them Lord. They knows not what they do.

Look, if Sue was guilty of any sin, it was the sin of enjoying a man's chest too much. Also the sin of indulging in that pleasure that starts at a woman's wet center then spreads, eventually shooting through her entire body like a shock, causing her to sweat and gasp. And perhaps the sin of loving bun and condensed milk, and definitely the sin of being fool-fool. But Sue Moses was not disobedient, and when she got up out of her seat that Sunday and walked toward the pulpit instead of toward the door, it was not an act of rebellion, not in her head. She only wanted to prove that she would hold no one in malice, that she forgave them. She only wanted to extend her hand to Pastor Desmond, possibly kiss him on the forehead, and then leave.

But the pastor trembled behind the pulpit watching her approach. "I said out! Out!" She did not stop. "Out I say!" Now jumping, "Out!" Poor Sue. If only he would understand. Instead there he was shouting, close to tears, as if afraid. "Please girl! Leave the people of God!" But now Sue was right before him. She reached out her hand of forgiveness and Pastor Desmond could only see fingers pointing at him accusingly. He cried out sorrowfully, "All right! All right! Yes! Is me is the father. She tempted me, church! She tempted me and I was weak." He fell down and oh, such a cowbawling Mount Sinai Church of God had never seen or heard before.