"Whatever the reason," Jeannette Ludinga said, "we can't tell people they can't do it in worship. We have to face that fact." She twisted her pen between her fingers as she spoke. "I'm not excited about it myself," she said, "but we're not about to ask the ushers to remove people who lift their hands."
"Of course not," Wilmot said, and the way he moved his jaw reminded Swart that the old man had a pinch of tobacco tucked behind his lower lip. "But that doesn't mean I like it," he said. "It sets up a hierarchy. That's what we're seeing now. Some do it, some don't. Those that do are blessed–maybe I’ll buy that–but those that don't are either full of guilt because they can't do it or mad as heck at those who do for creating all the stink. We got war, boys," he said, forgetting about the women around the table. "We got war here, and we got to do something about it."
Pastor Tom wasn’t about to weigh in because after five years at Lakeside Church he’d come to understand the difference between fools rushing in and wise men steering clear. But he couldn’t stay out long, and he knew it.
"What do the Scriptures say?" Elder Swart said, looking right at him.
Pastor Tom took in a deep breath. "The Bible tells us in several places," he explained quietly, "to lift up our hands to the Lord in praise."
"Well, then," Swart said, raising his hands again, as if the case were closed.
"Well, the Bible also says to pour on oil when we visit sick people," Wilmot said, "and it commands the brethren to greet each other with a holy kiss!” He raised a thumb, as if he’d ended the argument. But he was a roll. “And the book of Timothy, I think, says women aren't supposed to speak.” He pointed at Ludinga and Nikki Ferris. “So what on earth does the Bible have to do with this?"
Elder Swart looked back up at the picture of his father’s square jaw and suddenly felt as if the world were falling in on his and everyone else’s head, the whole consistory aboard a toboggan hurtling down some river-valley hill toward an inevitable crash.
Finally, when the silence had dragged on long enough, Pastor Tom nodded his head three or four times, and said, "Tell you what–I’m going to raise my hands myself on Sunday. That's what I've decided.” He raised a preacherly finger. “I'm going to do it myself."
Wilmot threw up his hands. "Now that's Spirit-filled all right," he said. "Go on and plan it ahead of time–write it into the liturgy, the way we do 'Amens,’” he said. "Put an asterisk in the bulletin--'Congregation standing–raise your hands.'"
"I'm serious," Pastor Tom said. "I know what's going on. I know what it's caused. You can't believe all the calls I'm getting. So-and-so's mad at so-and-so . . ."
"No," the pastor said. "What'll happen is that I'll make it legitimate.” He thumbed at his chest. “At least we’ll take the blame off Lizzy and Arn. They won't be black sheep. I mean, I'll make it legit–know what I'm saying?"
Wilmot didn't say a thing.
"I think it's a good idea," Nikki Ferris said.
"You would," Wilmot screamed. "You already raise your hands. Now you got the Reverend on your side."
"Is this a war?" she said. "Are we enemies here?–I mean, aren't we all 'one in the Spirit,' here?--you know, 'they'll know we are Christians by our love?'"
"Pollyanna," Wilmot muttered.
Tomorrow: Spirit-filled resolution.