Chapter Seven

December 1633, Grantville, State of Thuringia, United States of Europe

It never got easier, Dr. Nichols thought as he welcomed John Chalker and his helper Georg Fleitner into his private office. The best way was just to go ahead and give the patient his diagnosis. "Reverend Chalker, it appears you have early stages of a left ventricular myocardial infarction. It's a form of heart failure."

Nichols let the words soak in for a moment, then continued, "I'll try not to go into lecture mode but give you some basic information and tell you how we need to manage it.

"The heart is a pump. That's it. Left-sided heart failure backs up fluid in the lungs. Some of the classic signs are shortness of breath, fatigue, and coughing bouts. The cough may have pinkish tinged fluid in it. So far, yours doesn't, but that's caused by high blood pressure pushing not only fluid but some red blood cells into the air sacks in the lungs. That's what I learned by listening to your lungs and heart, a distinct set of crackles and a murmur.

"We can expect future symptoms to include pooling of fluids in your lower extremities. Lower legs and ankles will start to swell like balloons. This, along with shortness of breath and weight gain due to water retention can come on slowly over an extended period."

Nichols opened the patient folder. "Now, here's what we can do to make sure you're around for a good long time to come. First of all, low salt is essential. Limit your intake of meat. Keep your feet elevated whenever possible and stay off them as much as possible. The heart has to do a lot less work when you're reclining than when you're standing up."

"But what about my sermons?" Chalker asked.

"Reverend Chalker, I've seen you conduct a service," Nichols replied. "You just have to ask yourself is it more important to conduct the sermon or to minister to your congregation? The fewer sermons you give, especially the way you give them, the longer you'll be able to be the head pastor of your flock."

No, it never got easier. But it helped to know that the choice remained in the hands of the patient.

****

"Reverend Fischer! Reverend Fischer!"

Fischer turned to see Phyllis Dobbs hurrying up the trolley aisle toward him. After she sat next to him and caught her breath, she burst out, "It's so wonderful what you and the church are going to do with all that money! When Slater came home last night and told me about it, I remembered this.

Phyllis fumbled through her large canvas grocery bag until she found and pulled out a large, gray paperback book with a black and white photograph of a woman on the front. "I bought this at a high school fund raiser a few years ago. That was back when I was working at the school cafeteria, you know. It's the story of a Pentecostal female preacher who starts her own evangelical ministry. I never did get around to reading it myself. Back up-time I was going to give it to one of my friends in Fairmont who went to the Four Square Church, but I just never did.

"Maybe it might help you." Phyllis thrust the book into Fischer's hands.

The title of his new book was Sister Aimee: The Life of Aimee Semple McPherson by Daniel Mark Epstein. There was a quote on the back out of a review that said, "With her radio ministry and her theatrical sermons, Sister Aimee ushered in the modern religious age."

Fischer pulled off one mitten and started to thumb through the book. Some pictures of a tall woman and her children, then of what looked to be a great round sanctuary, finally of the same woman on a crowded stage with a microphone.

A female minister? Fischer decided that this was a book he was going to have to find time to read. “Thank you very much, Sister Dobbs. I'll be sure to read this and return it as soon as possible."

"No need in that, Reverend," Phyllis replied, rejecting his offer with a motion of her free hand. "I feel like I owe you for helping Slater find the Lord and saving his hand. I just don't know what we would have done if it weren't for you. He's like a new man!"

"Trust me, Sister, it wasn't me. It was the Holy Spirit who touched your husband's hand and, evidently, his heart."

****

Fischer came back to the book after his talk with Chalker and a considerable amount of prayerful study. It seemed that at every opportunity, the Protestant faith of the future had rewritten the understanding of the present day Church.

“Dieter,” Chalker grinned. “You've got to understand that when Martin Luther nailed that poster to the church door, that was just the start!

“All Christians are just men and men make mistakes. Look at Peter. In Matthew 26:74:75, it says, ”˜Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man. And immediately the cock crew. And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly.'

“Since God's purpose concerning man is to seek and to save that which is lost, to be worshiped by man, and to build a body of believers in the image of His Son, the priority reason-for-being of the Church is to be a channel of God's purpose to build a body of saints being perfected in the image of His Son as laid out in Ephesians 4:11-16 and First Corinthians 12:28 and 14:12.”

Chalker paused as he recalled a lesson learned early in his life.

“There's something else you're going to struggle with, Dieter. Sister Aimee's three husbands. But, as you'll see, each one of them was sent to her to help her fulfill God's mission.

“Even in leaving her second husband, she followed God's plan as Jesus said in Luke 12: 51:53, ”˜Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division: For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three. The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.”

Seeing the troubled look on Fischer's face, Chalker smiled. “There's been a lot smarter men than you and me hash out these issues in the next three hundred plus years. Even the Catholics of our time have allowed more women into their church leadership and have found a work around that allows their church members to annul their marriages a lot easier than in this era.

“Anytime you have a hard time reconciling what you've been taught, remember what Jesus said in Mathew 7:20, ”˜Wherefore by their fruits, ye shall know them.'

“You think of it that way, and you won't go far wrong.”

****

What a book it was! The adventures of this woman of faith from that other future read like an up-time adventure novel.

But it wasn't until she left her second husband that the book started to reveal to Fischer a model for how he could advance the faith in this time. In very long, scientific words that he would have to look up, the book seemed to say that a scientifically creditable reason might lie beneath faith healing. That there may be a link to the chemicals the body produces when in the throes of hysteria, and physical changes.

Fischer wasn't so sure that he believed that St. John the Baptist should be lumped in with whoever this "Sister Teresa" was or if it was right to question how God decided to accomplish his miracles. Still, however imperfect the explanation, perhaps it could help him recognize the congregants who offer fertile ground to allow God's will to be accomplished in their life.

"Neuropeptides. Synovial membranes. What words are these?" Fischer read out loud. But it was clear that this author believed that even if the miracles had occurred using purely scientific means that made them no less miracles of the spirit. But profound belief still needed the physical touch of the healer to finish the job.

Fischer marked his place and laid the book on his lap. So the power of faith depends on the collective belief of the members present. He remembered that in the Bible it said, "Wherever two or more of you are gathered in His name . . . "

The more people believe miracles are going to happen, the more miracles do happen. Thinking back to the atmosphere of the revival that had brought him to the Pentecostal faith, he understood what happened. "I must learn to involve the congregation in a much more emotional way. More like Reverend Chalker would have if he were my age."

When Fischer tried to read on, he could hardly concentrate for all the thoughts that were running through his mind.

****

Marc Kronzburg was engaging in his favorite morning pastime—reading the local newspapers at Bridges Books and Coffeehouse. Not that Der Kronz cared two Pfennigs about any story that the local newspapers reported on. For that, he certainly could depend on the better and faster coverage of his own beloved radio station.

No. Der Kronz was again reading the advertisements.

"Oh no! They could have bought five more thirty second spots for what they wasted on this half page!" He grimaced. Another sip of the house espresso followed by a scribbled note to record a new concept. It would be ready for his pitch for the next he saw the shop owner who had placed this poorly conceived waste of money. Only then did he turn the page to feast on the delectable agony of more missed advertising dollars. Not to mention their resulting commissions.

"Mr. Kronzburg?"

Marc looked up at the unexpected interruption. "Mrs. Kurger! What a wonderful surprise to see you here this morning. I was just thinking about you.

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- The Grantville Gazette Staff