Youth Basement: First United Christ’s Kingdom
Youth Minister Deverance descended the stairs quietly, taking care not to disturb the Harvest Festival streamers cascading down into darkness.
“Reverend Holyhand?” You’ve been down here for hours. “I made some turkey and mayo sandwiches. Your favorite!”
All Deverance could hear was the rhythmic thud-thud-thud of the record player, the record having been finished hours ago. Reverend Holyhand was asleep at his desk, charcoal sketches and words on the big papers all over his desk.
Deverance set the plate beside him. White bread. Turkey. Extra mayo. Salt. No crusts. Just like Reverend Holyhand liked them.
The reverend had been down there in the Youth Basement, listening to spinning vinyl since noon. There was a stack of records by his arm, first Don Marsh Chorus, then Joy Division. The Carter Family, then The Cure.
Deverance knew that Reverend Holyhand was down here on his most sacred task: To make Jesus cool again, to get the kids back into the Youth Basement, something that his vines of ice cream socials and instagrams of passion play excerpts had not been able to do.
He edged the papers away from Reverend Holyhand’s sleepy elbow as he muttered “...let Jesus come…” before he began to snore.
Deverance looked at the thick black lines of the sketch. It was clearly a billboard. In the center - Jesus, all rippling abs and sweaty, curly, shoulder length hair. As far as Deverance knew, the last time Reverend Holyhand had accepted long hair on a man was that one time two thousand years ago.
“...for him to sketch this…” He started to say, but looked at the text scrawled in pencil beside it.
JESUS. IS HE IN YOU?
Deverance opened his mouth. Closed it. The light above seemed to flicker.
“Reverend Holyhand?” His hand darted to the reverend's elbow. “REVEREND!”
“Is this your idea, Reverend?” He asked. The idea was so simple. So brilliant. All they needed to do was to ask if people had accepted the idea of Jesus Christ as their savior into their hearts - into their lives - and the Right Reverend Harry Holyhand had condensed it down into just four short words, four short words that no mistake could be made around, four short words that could bare no misinterpretation!
“It was God’s idea. Show it to the… teenagers. Make sure there’s nothing perverted there. The teens can sniff out a perversion in a pile of scripture, Darryl. If you catch one laugh, one snicker, if you catch so much as the tiniest titter of tongue or the rolling of an eye, I want this scrapped. This is it, Darryl. The Holyhand legacy. The one that will get the youth talking.”
He took a bite of the sandwich. “Not enough mayo, Deacon Deverance.” His eyes squinted at the next pair of records, Thomas Dorsey and Boy George.
Darryl went up the stairs and let the heavy door to the Youth Basement close. He didn’t thread the chain or throw down the plank. The Reverend would come out in due time.
NEXT DAY: First United Christ’s Kingdom Youth Outreach Union:
Deacon Darryl Deverance held out the new design for the JESUS: IS HE IN YOU billboard that Miss Cockswain had finished up before she’d gone out to get the free refill on her 64 oz sweet tea that she’d bought at the Tote-Sums last weekend. She’d printed it on the back of an old bulletin that had never been folded, but the sermon of the week had been about the War on the War on Christmas, so Darryl figured it was from that year the Reverend had first heard about their new seasonal outrage.
The only two teens in the First United Christ’s Kingdom Youth Outreach Union were a disheveled pair who looked like they’d been rubbing dirt into their skin from the age of six until they started hard drugs at nine. They were not “nice.”
“Nice!” The one with the once-blonde hair and the missing teeth said. Darryl was pretty sure he was too old to be missing baby teeth. He was also fairly sure his name was Mark Renton, and his sister, Diane, was staring at something on the back of Mark’s chair, where she always sat directly behind him.
“Yeah, nice.” Diane said. Darryl didn’t know if the two were technically teens, but the Youth Outreach Union had nine chairs and Mark always sat in the last one.
“Nice!” Mark repeated, and he thought they were going to start laughing - if he was going to do what Reverend Holyhand said, he’d have to shelf the whole thing, the gorgeous Christ, the unique font, the simple glory of “Is He In You?”
He couldn’t consign that glory to the hole. He had to show it to the world, despite the addled chortling of two crusty youth of questionable parentage. After he let the Renton children go back to chasing feral cats in the back yard, Darryl went to the back computer, Reverend Holyhand’s computer, and typing www.is into the ancient internet explorer, he was surprised when www.isheinyou.com autocompleted, and relieved when it led to nothing. He would have to register it. It was no surprise to Deacon Darryl that no one had registered “Is he in you?” as a website - it was a unique expression of the Lord’s love, and nothing else. Only Reverend Holyhand could have seen it through.
And soon, the world would ask - “Is he in you?”
And they would be disappointed if the answer was “no,” Darryl knew.