If Jesus is the Same … November 30, 2011


Charlotte, North Carolina

It’s what the Good Book says. It claims that “Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever.”

Traditionalists and religionists love this particular scripture because they feel it sanctions them repeating their favorite ways of maintaining the integrity of the Christian faith. But I do believe that if you read it carefully, it says that Jesus is the same–not that we’re the same, religion is the same, or all the things we call righteousness are the same yesterday, today and forever. Just because you like red carpet in your sanctuary and unleavened bread for your communion doesn’t mean you can get an affirming nod from the Master.

So if we’re really going to pursue this thing called Christianity, I think we should take the time to understand the mind-set of its initiator and find out what triggered his passions–and also what he held dear to the cause. Without this, we begin to think that everything we do is right in our own eyes and therefore Jesus is smiling, knowing how darned-tootin’ on-point we are.

It reminds me of the pastor of the church that hosted me last night for my Christmas show. First of all, he was kind enough to invite us to come and share our talents with his community. How gracious. But about two weeks ago he called our office and told the woman who schedules us that he had gone onto our website and couldn’t find our particular page–and what he did discover was not very impressive. When she told me this, I wanted to get offended. Why? Because I can be a brat. I don’t want anyone disrupting my little world of self-confidence and security. But instead of throwing a fit and ignoring his comment, I went on the Internet and found that our web host had bungled up some numbers or something, and our site was not available at that time. So our sponsor was right–and I was so glad that my stubborn ways were not allowed to trump his more intelligent insight. Because of that, I was able to meet a very kind and intensely in-tune host last night, and got to meet some lovely folks for a spiritual evening of entertainment. You see, if we persist to believe that the absence of our own will is the destruction of God’s plan, we will never evolve towards greater understanding of the true nature and style of Jesus.

So if you will allow me–working on the premise of Jesus being the same yesterday, today and forever–I would like to take the next few days to tell you HOW he’s the same. What makes him the same? What truths that he proclaimed in his loincloth in Galilee are still relevant in the Bible Belt of America today? How can we begin to understand our faith if we don’t understand Jesus? Because a lack of understanding of Jesus is the formation of the institution of religion. And religion always does one thing above all else–it shrinks our possibilities and our vision.

So let me start tomorrow with the first thing that is the same about Jesus yesterday, today and forever. Let’s see if you agree. Let’s see if you learn something. Or better yet, let’s see if you teach me one that I missed.

See you tomorrow.


Here comes Christmas! For your listening pleasure, below is Manger Medley, Jonathan’s arrangement of Away in the Manger, which closes with him singing his gorgeous song, Messiah.  Looking forward to the holidays with you!

Light at the End of the Tunnel (Hill)… November 29, 2011


Charlotte, North Carolina

I do not wish to aggravate people but I am certainly willing to do so if it’s going to generate the kind of dialogue that will create betterment and change. I greatly prefer exhortation to aggravation. (Candidly, the only difference between aggravation and exhortation is in how well it’s received.)

Arriving in Tunnel HIll, Georgia, last night for the second date of my Christmas tour, I was rather dubious about the results. I was struggling with a bit of a 24-hour stomach virus, which was giving me an entirely too descriptive tour of my intestinal system. Four inches of rain had fallen during the day and it was also damp and cold. People had lots of reasons NOT to come out to Tunnel Hill United Methodist Church to see our little dog-and-pony show (which, since it’s Christmas time, might be better presented as Reindeer and Donkey Show.)

But to my delight, a whole bunch of folks decided to brave the weather and perch themselves in a small auditorium to peruse the wares these gypsies had brought out for the evening’s delight. And truly, it was an exhilarating experience.

For after all, there are really only four things necessary to create transformation, or what we shall call revival. Fortunately for me, last night all four of these attributes showed up in the hearts and lives of the good folks of Tunnel Hill (thus my title:  Light at the End of the Tunnel (Hill)). Let me relate them to you and give you a bit of commentary which will show why we are in the middle of a stall in our nation instead of a thrust forward.

If you want to see things get better and improve your lifestyle, you must:

1. Show up. Life is not a download. Experience cannot be uploaded nor can it be texted to you–even though some people think that would be “tweet.” You have to actually be there in the flesh to experience the sensation. Without that, you are simulating an encounter which will end up being not quite as fulfilling and therefore will leave you jaded and fussy about the whole process.  Show up. My sponsors often lament that more people don’t come out to events they schedule. I think that’s ridiculous. I’m always shocked when there’s ANYBODY there, considering the temperament of our nation. We just persist in believing that we can push a button and will be inundated with entertainment or inspiration. Life is just like banking–if you’re not going to invest, don’t expect a return. So hat’s off to you, Tunnel Hill.  You showed up.

2. Listen. And I don’t mean listen critically. If you’re going to take the trouble to show up, give yourself the thrill of believing that you’re going to hear, see or feel something completely wonderful or different. There are many people in this country who are still hearing but they don’t really have an ear.  Or is it that they have an ear and they aren’t hearing? One way or another, the information is being assimilated through their own opinions and being decimated in their touchiness instead of allowing for deeper understanding.  You’ve got a heart, you’ve got a soul and you’ve got a mind. That’s assuming that you’ve showed up so your strength is already present.  So at least bring one of those to receive nourishment.  In other words, receive emotionally, receive spiritually or receive mentally.  Tunnel HIll, I am astounded to the depths of my soul at how you listened for an hour to my little stories.

3. Learn. Of course, to admit you learn something means that you have to give into the notion that there may be knowledge that you don’t already possess. It does demand a bit of humility. But without humility, the human being naturally defaults to pride. And pride sucks because it’s a bull butting heads with the rest of the world. Learn. What IS learning? It’s listening and finding something ON PURPOSE that is unique to your ears. If you spend your whole life nodding your head–acting as if everything you hear is merely a reflection of your previous thoughts–you will not only battle arrogance, you will drive away people who could be of great benefit to your journey.

4. And finally, share. Once you’ve actually listened and learned something, walk up to the person who happened to be your teacher on that occasion, and tell him or her how much it meant to you. Once again, that means we have to hurdle a whole bunch of pride and acquiesce to the realization that we are in need of input. But it means the world to other people to know that they’ve impacted your life and it is the only way to guarantee that you will remember what has transpired instead of letting it slip from your grasp, becoming part of your past instead of incorporating it into your future. Share. Tell somebody how they’ve enriched your life–or don’t be angry when no one tells you how enriching YOU’VE been. Once again, the delightful gathered at Tunnel Hill United Methodist Church learned and shared with me how much moments from the evening meant to them. One beautiful lady explained that she had not been out to a Christmas program for some time because her daughter had died at Thanksgiving two years earlier and she hadn’t had the heart to celebrate. But she showed up. She listened. She learned. And she shared that she was so glad she had come.

There is light at the end of the Tunnel (Hill) because if people soaked by four inches of rain, chilled to the bone, in a small town in Georgia, can enact the kind of attitude that affords exhortation, then just maybe we have hope to escape aggravation and become new creatures.

So my day begins. I plan on showing up. I’m listening. I certainly will learn something. And I will continue daily to share my findings with you in the most vulnerable way possible. Don’t be surprised if America continues to suffer from amnesia about its true value–because we must understand that an I-phone is a really nice invention–but no replacement for “I show up.”


Here comes Christmas! For your listening pleasure, below is Manger Medley, Jonathan’s arrangement of Away in the Manger, which closes with him singing his gorgeous song, Messiah.  Looking forward to the holidays with you!

From the Beginning… November 28, 2011


Charlotte, North Carolina

It happened again yesterday.

A vivacious, older chap literally leapt to his feet to announce with great joy the anniversary of his fifty-second year of marriage to his wife. When asked what the secret was to their relationship, he jokingly replied, “Just do everything she says.”

The congregation laughed.

 I refrained.

I know it’s meant in good fun. But the seemingly irreparable breach between men and women in this country is no longer a laughing matter. If fifty per cent of our people have such irreconcilable differences with the other fifty per cent and commonality cannot be discovered then we might truly be doomed. I find myself quite alone in this conviction. The preoccupation with the alleged differences between the male and female of our species inundates our culture, dialogue, art and even politics.

One day when the Pharisees were desperately trying to justify their doctrine of open divorce, they posed the question to Jesus: “Isn’t it all right for people to get divorced, no matter what the reason?” Can you hear it? There was a great undertone in the question that assumed that the sexes were in a perpetual war and that certainly relationship was the ongoing casualty. Jesus had a different perspective. He said, “It was not so in the beginning. A man was to leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife, and they should become one flesh.”

Yes, his concept of humanity was one enjoined person. Not male and female, but rather, a single human presence. To accomplish this, men have to stop believing that all women are their mothers and that they are supposed to think and react exactly as their father did. Women, on the other hand, have to cease projecting the idea of “daddy” into every male they meet.

People wonder why romance dies. If you actually believe that you’re supposed to do what your wife tells you to do, how can you avoid viewing her as anything other than your mother–a parental entity? It might be understandably mind-jolting to envision yourself being romantically entangled with the woman who birthed you. Likewise, if you are a woman secretly projecting your daddy onto your sex partner, a certain amount of nastiness might enter your mind and frustration may be the result. So as the fire of passion goes out, it is replaced with responsibility, duty, loyalty or even the honoring of religious tradition. I’m sorry folks, that’s not enough spark to light a match.

I never treat any woman like my mother except the one who was present at my unveiling. And I don’t really want any woman to view me as her papa unless family ties warrant it.

If we are supposed to be “cleaving” to one another, which even by a simple definition would connote great familiarity, and the final goal is to become one flesh, we should not spend all of our time tearing at our own skin and ripping ourselves apart. Let’s look at a list of questions:

1. Are there differences between men and women? Physiologically, less than 2% of our bodies vary. Most of the perceived uniqueness in male and female is culturally installed by our religious, political and school systems.

2. Is it possible for a man and woman to be equal, or does there need to be a dominant partner? I really feel stupid posing the question, because if two men can work in a partnership and two women can work in a partnership, the only reason a man and woman would even hint at having problems with such an endeavor would be an uncontrolled bigotry towards the other party. In other words, take away prejudice and you remove inequality.

3. And finally, are the differences between the sexes just for fun and giggles and really don’t harm anyone? I suppose a man who’s been married for fifty-two years can tell his little tale about how their marriage works and know deep in his heart that it’s truly a union of purposes–but as those ideas trickle down to younger and younger folks who have less and less experience in interacting with one another, what was meant to be funny actually becomes fear. Yes, I believe that for people under the age of thirty-five in this country, there is a literal terror of man to woman and woman to man. To mask that trepidation, the sexes individually try to act superior to one another. That’s what we always do. When we are deeply frightened of being inferior, we try to find ways to prove our prowess.

So I think it’s dangerous to perpetuate this myth–one that Jesus shattered in the presence of the Pharisees of his day–by allowing the cultural ignorance of our time to hold women back by making men look stupid and giving them power by default of muscle. I would love to hear your opinion.

I think we need to make a beginning here. I think somebody needs to step forward and say, “I’ve been married for forty-one years, and every time we’ve fallen into cultural roles of ‘guy’ and ‘gal’ we have basically been miserable. And on the occasions when we have gone eyeball-to-eyeball, lifting the burdens together and respecting each other at the end of the day, sharing a common joy and fatigue, it has been not only pleasant but also romantically fulfilling.”

Yes, someone needs to say it.

 And I guess I just did.


Here comes Christmas! For your listening pleasure, below is Manger Medley, Jonathan’s arrangement of Away in the Manger, which closes with him singing his gorgeous song, Messiah.  Looking forward to the holidays with you!

The Faith Count… November 27, 2011


Charlotte, North Carolina

I woke up with a sore throat.

I haven’t had a cold in two years so let me be the first one to say that I’m grateful for the reprieve from such escapades and appreciative of the ability to use all my faculties to communicate my message. For 181 shows this year, I’ve been able to dip into my talent, ability and confidence to propel the notions and inspiration that have been granted to me to share with my fellow-travelers.

Today my throat is sore. Before me are two programs for St. John’s United Methodist Church in Chattanooga, Tennessee. So what should my profile be? I still have a voice–that’s good. I just don’t have a sense of my talent, ability and confidence. That leaves me with my faith.

It is amazing what we discover about the true nature of our faith when our talent, ability and confidence have been shaken–because there are a lot of scriptures that tell us that God’s grace is sufficient for us. But I am staring down at a line-up of songs and stories that require more than my particular belief in God’s grace. I could piously tell you that I am completely reassured that the presence of God will be enough for me in my morning’s activities, and even though that statement would not be a lie, it also would not be completely forthcoming.

I find that a good portion of my faith in God is wrapped up in my ability, talent and confidence. I guess there are theologians that would object to such an assertion as being faithless–or even anti-God. I don’t know. I’ve just never been a “let go, let God” person. And allow me be so presumptuous as to say that most of us aren’t. Unlike the typical student of the Bible, when I run across something that most humans are NOT comfortable in performing, rather than assuming we are depraved and indifferent, I choose to consider the fact that maybe some of the ideas we have about God and life are ill-informed.

I think it’s an issue of the faith count. For instance, in today’s programs, I believe I truly will have to have faith that God will be with me as I share. But I also need to count the cost and take a good assessment of my talent, ability and the confidence I possess. False spirituality is the belief that how we are created and how we act is an abomination to God.

Would I rather not have a sore throat? Absolutely. Would I rather have my ability, talent and confidence at 100%? Darned tootin’. I am not thrilled to be less. But what I CAN be is overjoyed that wisdom trumps it all–and all wisdom is given by God to those who will ask.

So even though my talent, ability and confidence may be shaken a bit, if I will use a little wisdom to count the cost and truly decide what I can and cannot do, I therefore am able to present God with a possibility which He is able to bless. For after all, God has no intention of doing it all, nor does He particularly favor being left out. He rather likes our partnership.

So even though my throat is sore, I can still speak and I still have some talent and ability–and if I choose the right things to do instead of over-extending myself, my confidence should reappear.  This gives God the chance of surprising me with the ability to do more than I thought I could, yet without dumping the entire gig on Him.

It is the faith count. I will count factually what I think I can do, reestablishing my talent, ability and confidence, and then place it in God’s hands for His brilliant distribution. It’s the five loaves and two fishes brought my me to feed the five thousand. It’s the woman touching the hem of Jesus’ garment for healing. It is the decision that Jesus made not to tempt the Lord his God, but rather, use what he had instead of trying to jump off the pinnacle of the temple. Yes, I shall not jump off the steeple of St. John’s United Methodist Church. Instead, I will take what God has given me on this Sunday morning and use it as efficiently and wisely as possible. But I will do so by taking an accurate count of my talent, ability and confidence.

It is the faith count--and like everything else that is truly spiritual, it is the intelligent blending of the human with the Divine.


Here comes Christmas! For your listening pleasure, below is Manger Medley, Jonathan’s arrangement of Away in the Manger, which closes with him singing his gorgeous song, Messiah.  Looking forward to the holidays with you!

The Gesundheit Factor… November 26, 2011


In Washington, D.C.

Maybe it’s because I’m in Chattanooga, Tennessee–a town known for its choo-choo–which made me think of “At-choo!”  Sneezing. Which prompted me towards the appropriate response when hearing a sneeze, culminating with “Gesundheit.” (Honestly, if you followed that logic, maybe you’ve read a few too many of my essays.)

I like “Gesundheit.” It is some sort of German derivation of “God bless you.” Yet, I’m not so sure it was a German who first said it, but rather, some forward-thinking, sensitive human being who realized that every time he or she said “God bless you,” there were those NOT part of the faithful sheep-fold who might have been a little offended by the reference to the Divine in the midst of their normal, bodily function of sneezing. So rather than offend people who did not have a spiritual sensibility, he or she decided to place the context of the message in another language, which would still convey the essence, but perhaps beg the question: “Gesundheit? What does that mean?”

Because to be quite blunt, dear folks, if you can’t get people questioning, answers are somewhat useless, lying dormant on a side shelf, collecting dust. It is contingent on those who have discovered peace of mind through emotional health and spiritual well-being to find ways to communicate the principles of their great bonanza of revelation in the most creative ways possible. It is certainly why Jesus spoke in parables instead of pulling out old scrolls and reading the same material that people had heard over and over again.

It’s why he told us to “bury the leaven in the lump.” Yes–to take things that are truly eternal and completely absorb them and dissolve them into the practical world around us. For after all, if things truly are spiritual, they will be like yeast, giving rise to any project in which they are placed. It’s religion that ticks people off. It is the notion that one book or one doctrine is sufficient to cover every human need–with no particular sensitivity given to individual preference. That’s why I like “Gesundheit.” It is clever, communicates a message and also begs the question which lends itself to further enlightenment.

I am very weary of ministers and people who attend worship services lamenting why the masses don’t come filing through the door to find inner peace and salvation. Here’s a clue:  it’s boring. And truthfully, if 90% of the people who attend these times with God can get out of them, they do. It’s not exactly that there’s a mad rush by the fervently faithful to attend worship services, either. They are boring, they are predictable, they take pride in the fact that they do not change and possess more tradition than relevance, and they are geared to the taste of the members who attend instead of to the need of the community where they live.

There’s a certain amount of pomposity that accompanies the decision to be irrelevant. Unfortunately, that particular approach to spirituality is very Old Testament and has absolutely nothing to do with a young Nazarene who lived with the masses, communicated with the masses, told stories to the masses and spoke the language of the masses.

We must find a way to bury the leaven in the lump. We must “Gesundheit” our theology. I have five personal beliefs from the philosophy of Jesus that I hold dear. I never share them as blatant quotations from the holy book. Why? Because people have an aversion to religion that comes from pages instead of people. Here are my favorite five:

1. Love your neighbor as yourself. It’s so easy to change this into the “me factor.” People don’t mind talking about themselves, and all you have to do is allow them to do that and merely guide them to give that same courtesy to other folks.

2. Don’t judge, lest you be judged. All of my art and expressions of creativity are peppered with the notion that we cannot expect to get back any different than what we give. The reason I have mercy on other people is that MY lifestyle demands mercy.

3. Go the second mile. In a generation that has trained itself to settle for second-best, we can still rejoice in the fact that those who exceed expectation are not only appreciated but revered. Finding ways to go the second mile is a fun little journey for all of us–as long as you don’t quote book, chapter and verse.

4. Whenever you’ve done it unto the least of these, my brethren, you’ve done it unto me. Projecting God into the face of those who are less fortunate is a simple concept for people to grasp. It is much easier than the plan of salvation and it is certainly more fruitful than another discussion on the rapture or the second coming of Christ. And finally…

5. You are the salt of the earth and the light of the world. People really want to believe that their lives mean more than a pile of bills hopefully paid each and every month. Quietly give people a sense of mission and their spirits will soar, their emotions clean up and their minds clear. Empower people to believe they were created by God instead of constantly reminding them of their depravity.

I just believe in the “Gesundheit factor.” I’m not trying to water down the truth of the Bible–I’m trying to put its ingredients into the recipe of life, and then allow those flavors to expand the dish for all the world to enjoy.

So you can feel free to say “God bless you,” but understand that you are communicating immediately that you are a religious person. No one likes religion. We tolerate it. That’s why we always talk about “religious tolerance.”

But everyone can use ideas that benefit their souls, enhance their feelings and maybe even sweeten their pots. So it’s up to you. As for me, I will take my favorite five and stir them into the daily coffee of American life. It’s worked for me–and when people sneeze, I say, “Gesundheit!” Those who know what it means hear “God bless you,” and those who don’t get a chance to know why God wants to bless them.


Here comes Christmas! For your listening pleasure, below is Manger Medley, Jonathan’s arrangement of Away in the Manger, which closes with him singing his gorgeous song, Messiah.  Looking forward to the holidays with you!

We Gathered Together … November 25, 2011


In Washington, D.C.

Family is a collection of souls who share common experiences with often varying conclusions.

This is why those members of your household can be your best friends or your worst enemies. As the contradictory sayings put forth, “absence DOES make the heart grow fonder” but “familiarity has a tendency to breed contempt.”

So when it came time this year for Thanksgiving, I had one son in Miami, one in Los Angeles, one in New York and three in the Nashville, Tennessee, area. So it was logical to migrate the entire herd to Music City, USA. I rented a large house for four days so we could simulate the experience of the growing up years and share fellowship and the better baking of a bird. It was a fascinating experience.

All of these people who once lived under my roof, subjected to my tutelage, are now adults with lives of their own, with emotionally Xeroxed images of their particular interpretation of the philosophies put forth in our little experiment. I love them all–and even like them. But to assume that I agree with everything they do, approve of their actions or would find myself in complete synchronicity with their purposes is utterly ridiculous.

I think there are three phases in having children. Up to the age of five, you infuse manners, kindness, generosity and just general hygiene into them. From five to fifteen, you present yourself as an example–touting the better ways to handle things and also teaching them the value of having a clean emotional life, which lends itself to the possibility of spirituality. From fifteen to twenty-five, you have to gradually release them to their own missions, and also the favor that they will curry with God and man. After twenty-five, the deal is pretty well done and you need to settle in and become their friend instead of insisting on remaining their father or mother. Any other approach creates tension, disagreement and nasty disapproval, which in no way assists a human being towards for ongoing success. It was just wonderful to sit back and stop trying to be a patriarch and instead, reap the benefits of being a retired parent, who now is trying to find out–just like them–how to maintain the integrity of being a good human being.

The evening was further enhanced by the arrival of five friends of my son from Miami–old acquaintances of his from when he used to live in this region.  They brought freshness, energy, appreciation and joy to the excursion. We closed out the night in the master bedroom, playing songs around the piano, with Jan tootin’ her horns–creating the kind of “Kum Bay Yah” moment that makes for a great Hollywood ending. Yes–to a certain degree, I guess life is like a movie, or as Shakespeare put it–a stage. We develop relationship, we advance the plot, we encounter difficulty and we overcome together. (Honestly, anyone you do that with becomes family. And if your family hasn’t accomplished that, then you’re just related instead of relative to each other.)

I will go back on the road for a sixteen-city tour of a Christmas show of my own making. But I will have the memories of all these folks that I had the pleasure of nurturing, who have now found a way of enjoying their nourishment through life–absent of my interference and present of my approval.

Yes, we gathered together, but not to ask the Lord’s blessing.  No, just to look each other in the eyes and know that the Lord’s blessing is available if we will just have the tenacity to enjoy the pursuit of it. I am a father of sons, many of whom have found wives. I am not outdated, but rather, have updated my status to friend and confidante instead of tutor and disciplinarian. Because of that I am still of value to them. After all, in the adult world, spanking doesn’t work, even when error is made. All that truly is valuable is support and a lack of criticism.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of us–and may we continue to realize that what constitutes family is loving your neighbor as you love yourself.


Here comes Christmas! For your listening pleasure, below is Manger Medley, Jonathan’s arrangement of Away in the Manger, which closes with him singing his gorgeous song, Messiah.  Looking forward to the holidays with you!

The Power of Poor … November 24, 2011


In Washington, D.C.

Here’s a fact. Chief Running Deer and Pilgrim John Alden are never going to share a turkey together unless they first have partaken of a common poverty.

If the Pilgrims had been highly successful in the New World, they would never even have considered turning to their perceived savage neighbors–the American Indians–for assistance. The difference between red skin and white skin was made null and void by the fear in each one of them of just becoming dead skins.

The Pilgrims were starving. Sickness had set in. The harvest was not plentiful. They had not found the New World to be the vista of possibilities or the land of milk and honey, but rather, a kingdom of mean and hurt. The Native Americans had survived the weather and learned the ways of the soil, and though they themselves were still very impoverished, these industrious people had found a way to survive the climate and still have enough to share with paler brothers. Without poverty, there is no Thanksgiving.

I sometimes become amused when I hear politicians in our country dream of a day when all Americans are rich–or at least securely tucked away in the middle class.  Here’s a clue, my friend.  Rich people don’t develop a sudden tendency towards generosity.  That’s why, when a rich person actually does give a gift, it makes headlines. Wealthy folks are even MORE concerned about maintaining the inventory of their supply house than those who are pulling roots out of the ground and plucking berries off of bushes.

Of course, the introduction of the middle class into any society is the intrusion of a mindset that has everything budgeted down to the tinest farthing, so as to maintain the blessing of perceived security. No, I will tell you on this Thanksgiving Day that there would never have been a Thanksgiving without the power of poor. It is amazing how racial barriers, ethnic fussiness and religious bigotry disappear when there is only one slice of bread and two people to share it. At that point, there is a choice: are you going to kill your neighbor to procure the whole slice, or find a way to be grateful as you munch your half?

The weakness of capitalism is the notion that people will not be happy until they’re financially secure. If we really believe that no one can find contentment without remuneration, we limit the scope of the human heart to share, the human soul to generate ideas, the human mind to make plans and the human body to endure a bit of discomfort in order to achieve sustenance.

Can we really be thankful if there were no chance that we actually were in peril of being without? I just don’t think so. In my lifetime I have had much and I’ve had little, and I will candidly tell you that the times I had little I was more innovative, generous and forthcoming than I ever was when my coffers were full. I tried to be the open soul when I possessed greater wealth, but nothing compares to the power of poor.

As Pilgrim John Alden stood outside his cabin and saw Chief Running Deer walking up the path, his first puritanical instinct was probably to grab his musket and destroy the enemy. And then he noticed that the Chief was carrying corn, had a wild turkey thrown over his back and some sort of flask containing what he hoped was good drink. The instinct to kill was replaced by the desire to survive.

So as you sit down at your Thanksgiving meal today, give yourself a great gift. Envision a climate where you really would be in need–and what would be your choice and direction in handling that lacking? Then look at your table of plenty and realize how magnificently blessed you are–and unworthy of such consideration. For me, I remember one particular Thanksgiving when turkey was served only as hot dogs and desserts were certainly absent altogether, but what we had was a great sense of humor and a hope for a better future. Perhaps a bit of tenderness will enter your heart and you will realize how close we all come, from time to time, to being abandoned.

Racial barriers were eliminated at the first Thanksgiving … because hungering and thirsting drew all the parties closer to true righteousness.


Here comes Christmas! For your listening pleasure, below is Manger Medley, Jonathan’s arrangement of Away in the Manger, which closes with him singing his gorgeous song, Messiah.  Looking forward to the holidays with you!

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