Jesonian: Reverend Meningsbee (Part 5) Late … May 29th, 2016

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Reverend Meningsbee

Sunday morning, and Meningsbee woke up late.

He wanted to blame his alarm clock, but since he was fully aware that he was the master of all of its decisions, he scurried along, skipping two of his pre-shower rituals.

He scooted into his car, started it and zoomed toward the church at what he hoped was a reasonable speed. He was thinking about what he wanted to share.

The Gospel of Mark. Most certainly.

It had been an interesting week.

After the breakthrough, with Betty and Clarice being reconciled, there was a sweet buzz of contentment among those who were present, but simultaneously, there were around twenty-five former members who had begun meeting in the banquet hall of the nearby Holiday Inn Express. They were stirring a flurry of frustration through the town.

Their contention? Meningsbee had “stolen their church.”

He understood their perspective. Yet there was a push in his spirit to continue the experiment–to find the real meaning of gathering together instead of marching in time to the drone of repetitive hymns.

Arriving, he ran to the door of the church, and then paused. He could hear the sounds of conversation. It was not the usual pre-church verbal exchanges, but instead, purposeful–what sounded like meaningful, prayerful tones.

So Meningsbee chose to enter quietly and climb the stairs to the balcony, where he could view the proceedings.

He had noticed coming in that there were a few more cars in the parking lot, and was delighted to see, when he looked down from his perch, that there were four visitors and a few of the original congregation who had returned.

But most enlightening was the fact that the three chairs he had placed in the front on Saturday night were filled with people, surrounded by other folks who were sharing and praying for one another.

On the seventh row was a young family who Deacon Smitters had befriended, and was quietly but feverishly entertaining with one of his stories.

It was a reverent scene, in the sense of the true meaning of reverence–full of humanity, compassion, tenderness and just a bit of the childlike freedom that was so often absent from the normal Sunday morning drill.

Reverend Meningsbee wanted to just hang out in the balcony and watch. He knew that as soon as he entered, the holy spell would be broken and they would turn to him to find order.

Finally he decided that it was not good for him to stay away for the whole time. He climbed down the stairs and came into the church as the gathering fell silent.

He turned slowly and addressed them.

“I overslept. But I have been here for fifteen minutes, just watching all of you. It is so beautiful for you to treat each other so beautifully. I know that’s not a good sentence, but it’s what I feel. Thank you. Thank you for being here. Thank you for loving each other.”

All at once, a hand went up. It was Clarice, from last week’s reconciliation.

“Hello, Pastor. I just wanted to let you know that after Betty and I mended our fences, I got inspired to contact my son in Lincoln, who ran away from home a couple of years ago because he was mad at me for being such a–can I say ‘bitch’ in the church?”

Meningsbee laughed. “You just did.”

Clarice continued. “Anyway, I invited Michael home, we made peace, and I told him to come here with me today to seal the deal.”

The congregation burst into applause without being coaxed. It was spontaneous and it was electrifying.

One after another, there were testimonies about those who came and sat in the chair to receive God’s grace through the kindness of God’s people.

The good Reverend just stood back and shut up. There was a small part of him that felt useless, but most of him felt he had discovered his true use.

Lead the sheep to the green pastures, and then let them eat.

It came time for the end of the service, and Meningsbee wasn’t sure what to do.

Betty stood to her feet and said, “Did you know that Clarice’s son, Michael, plays a mean piano and can really sing?”

Michael feigned a bit of embarrassment, but also exuded a willingness to display his talent. So Meningsbee pointed to the piano, and Michael slowly rose to his feet, walked over, sat down and played and sang “Let It Be” by the Beatles.

It was an inspiring conclusion to the morning.

Meningsbee listened to the song very carefully.

“Let It Be.”

What good advice.

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Good News and Better News … May 7h, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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West Virginia Jon and Jan

Wedged, Virginia.

Yes, squeezed in between West Virginia and Virginia is the little village of Peterstown, where I was fortunate to spend my Mother’s Day Sunday with the fine brothers and sisters of the Mountaineer State.

I don’t know whether it’s the blessing of aging or a submission of my well-traveled soul, but I seem to be finding greater delight in the human beings around me instead of constantly taking an inventory of their deficits.

I don’t know if the world is getting better or not, but perhaps if I decide to get better, the world might just seem that way.

The good news is that I see a gradual awakening in the American population–an alarm clock going off, letting us know that we’re in need of a new morning. Honestly, no one is springing out of bed to face the day. Most of us are reluctantly reaching over to punch the snooze button, hoping to gain a few more moments of unconsciousness.

But the alarm continues to sound.

It rings in our politics, our racial relationships, our families, our educational system, and certainly in our churches.

As it pertains to the latter, we are mercifully beginning to understand that church is not a dining experience, where we perch, get served a meal, and sit around with our friends discussing the menu and the quality of the attention given to us by the waitress.

Church would be better described as a self-service gas station, where we roll in knowing we need fuel, but understanding that we’re going to have to give something to get it.

That’s what I sensed Sunday morning with the Peterstown conclave.

They might be willing to be served–but they also were completely open to the idea that it is their turn to give back to the system.

God did not create human beings to worship Him. The angels had already filled that position. God created human beings for companionship and to replenish the Earth.

So every minute we spend in His house, we should enjoy sweet fellowship among our friends and great conversation with our Heavenly Father, preparing ourselves to replenish the Earth.

And what does “replenishing the Earth” mean?

Giving back just a little more than we take.

So I come out of my experience in “Wedged, Virginia” rejoicing over the alarm that is awakening our culture from a deep sleep of emotional and spiritual lethargy.

That’s the good news.

The better news is that we human beings are always smarter, sharper and funnier when we’re involved–instead of sittin’ on our butts, waiting for the dinner rolls to be served.

West Virginia Composite 2

 

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The Ashford Reality… April 1, 2013

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AshfordOnce again, I cheated my alarm clock out of the privilege of awakening me. Ever since I was in my early twenties, I have always been able to think about the time I wanted to arise right before dozing off, and literally like clockwork, wake up  near the exact hour. I doubt this gift, so I always set an alarm clock, which usually ends up going off when I’m in the bathroom, unable to reach it.

Thus I began my day early.

I am taking a road trip today back over to Houston, Texas, to share tonight in Ashford. After all these years–nearly forty–I am still an excited little boy at the prospect of journeying somewhere to share my talents to fine human souls. Over the years, pieces of my ego have been trimmed and discarded, and lessons have been learned about better approaches to achieve more satisfying results–but the enthusiasm remains.

I guess I’m kind of an odd bird. I have never been comfortable being a miserable anything. When I hear my fellow-believers talk about the pain and suffering of Christianity, I am bewildered. My understanding of the message is one of abundant life, in which our joy is full and we are given the responsibility of being the salt of the earth and the light of the world, as God’s grace affords us the opportunity of being a city placed on a hill.

So it was in that spirit that I set my goals for my journey to Ashford.

First of all, I just want to tell those delightful friends, “I love you.” It’s not that I want to be mushy or silly–rather, life is about finding a reason to love others. If we don’t, we start acting like we are abandoned on a desert island called earth, and our entire mission is to hoard coconuts, because there is no chance of ever being saved. I refuse to feel that way. Saying “I love you” is just as much or more for me than it is for the hearer. The absence of love is always the introduction of ignorance.

The second thing I want to impart to the fine folks of Ashford is, “You are loved.” Not just by me, but also by the last group of folks I just left, who have opened up their hearts and sent along a sensation of inclusion.  I also want them to know that God loves them. Even though we have made the mistake of attempting to turn God into a person, and therefore cursing Him with virtues ranging from cranky and cantankerous to being a hippie and free love advocate, God is actually a spirit. He is a spirit of light and He is a spirit of love, and whenever you find those two at work, He is there in the midst.

I guess in constructing my Ashford reality for today, I will tell the folks that love is needed for change. Change without love is like a car trying to run without oil, as the gears grind, heat up and smoke, destroying the engine. Love is the oil of change. If it doesn’t motivate the change, then we resort to things like intimidation, anger, frustration and guilt. Nasty stuff. Love gives us a reason to change because we know that even if we falter in the process of revising ourselves, love persists.

And finally, tonight in Ashford I will tell them that change is coming. We can no longer preach a God who is disgusted with human beings. We can no longer have two political parties which are locked in a Hatfield-and-McCoy feud. We can no longer feel superior to one another and think that we can achieve equality and justice. We can no longer have men and women fighting each other in situation comedies and think that one of the genders can solve the problems of earth without the other. We can no longer insist that who we are is sufficient without a little bit of repentance and a whole lot of God’s bolstering.

So there you go. You can see why I’m excited. I get to go on a road trip to bring a blessing to people I do not yet know. I get to say:

  • I love you
  • You are loved
  • love is needed for change
  • and change is coming.

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