Catchy (Sitting 27) Loose Ends … December 17th, 2017

Jonathots Daily Blog

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Matthew felt like he was dragging his own corpse behind him across the Arctic Tundra, in search of a fire.

He was disgusted with himself. Wonderful, marvelous events were transpiring, but he felt abandoned. He had become such dead weight that Jubal and the band decided not to have him come along on the daily trips across the country.

He didn’t argue. He felt so damn out of place.

Everyone was so energized, so jubilant, so jazzed by the whole idea–but he sat around counting the hours until the drum stopped beating and he could get back on the plane and go home to a nice cappuccino.

Even Soos had become enamored with the revival–filled with the same spirit that inhabited Mr. Carlos.

So this morning, when Jubal took off on the plane without telling Matthew where he was going, discovering by watching “Good Morning, U.S.A.” that the troop had landed in Haiti and was performing an impromptu concert in front of thousands of citizens, while handing out bread and cheese, Matthew was not upset. He just sat back and shook his head. Everything was so screwed up.

The business he had begun with Randall and Landy–S.E.E.D.S.–was turning to weeds. Some of the clients were disgusted with the whole idea of “God-speak,” and the ones who weren’t were too wacky for his taste.

Last week he had lunch with Randall and Landy, who sat across from him munching on salads and sipping Chablis like two jilted lovers. He had no idea how to explain where he was coming from or what he was going to do. Matter of fact, his life was just a series of loose ends, untied from all reality.

Jo-Jay had been out of pocket for weeks, pursuing some conspiracy against Jubal.

Sister Rolinda got herself in trouble with the Catholics by referring to the Pope as a “chauvinist,” suggesting that his head was beginning to fit into his pointed hat.

Worst of all was Prophet Morgan, who was jittery and upset about being ignored, and had broken the pact of secrecy with the press, doing two interviews, which, according to backstage sources, paid him three thousand for one and two thousand for the other. So two weeks ago, Prophet had appeared on “Tell All” with Bart Champion, and three days earlier, he was on “Rasur’s Edge with Carlita Rasur.” Ms. Rasur was so capable at her craft that she got Prophet all worked up into tears, as he apologized over the air for his relatives, who had once owned slaves.

Morgan looked ridiculous on television–an anachronism–pompadour hairdo, gray gabardine suit with a large, wide tie. Both Bart and Carlita tried to get secrets out of him, but since Prophet knew very little, they were quite disappointed with the information about scrambled instead of fried eggs, and Jubal’s insane appetite for black licorice.

The whole world seemed crazy to Matthew.

Michael Hinston wouldn’t take his phone calls anymore. Matthew tried not to be offended, but the last time he telephoned, he could hear Michael in the background, whispering instructions to his secretary. “Tell him I’m not here!”

Matthew just didn’t fit in.

On one hand, there was the burgeoning awakening of a Jesus movement going on in his midst, while at the same time old friendships, dreams and goals were sliding away into a pit of meaninglessness.

Rising from his chair, he picked up his cell phone and called the airport. “I need a one-way ticket to Washington, D.C.”

Matthew had decided to try to find Jo-Jay, and maybe surprise and corral Michael. The last time he had seem either of them, they were in the nation’s capitol.

 

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Catchy (Sitting 15) Being … September 24th, 2017

Jonathots Daily Blog

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Jubal Carlos lived among the immense homeless population of Las Vegas, Nevada. He, himself, was not homeless. Matter of fact, he was a percussionist who was much in demand on the strip for his talents. National acts would even procure his services to add some “spice” to their musical “nice.”

His specialty was congas. People in the audience often commented that he was a one-man show, using nearly every part of his body to strike the drums, creating amazing tones.

But when the concert was over and the other musicians headed off to their suites to eat and drink, Jubal stepped out into the night air and headed to the land of the unwanted.

He had purchased an old airport limousine, removing all the seats, which left just enough room for four mattresses. Every night he walked the street until he encountered three different souls he felt would benefit from an evening in his makeshift motel. He welcomed them, fed them a little food, talked of the good things in life and slept side-by-side with them.

In the morning he gave each one of them five dollars for breakfast, went back to the casino to his room (which they provided for him), took a shower and got ready for rehearsals.

He stood six feet tall, about two hundred pounds, with black hair which had turned a mysterious crimson and amber from time in the sun. He sported a beard which was just short of unkempt, wore baggy Hawaiian shirts and tight-fitting bell-bottom jeans.

He was a walking anachronism–a throwback to a former time, when simplicity was regaled as holy.

Matthew Ransley made a trip to Las Vegas to see Jubal.

Sister Rolinda had mentioned him in a passing conversation, and Matthew was curious to encounter such a creature who was so ill-suited for the jungle.

He first went to hear Jubal play his congas, and afterwards requested a time when they could sit and talk. Jubal was suspicious. Many reporters, budding authors, film-makers and entrepreneurs had crossed his path, trying to turn his story into their personal gold mine. He always resisted.

Jubal viewed himself as a practical man who was given the ability to have much, but because he didn’t need much, could do much. It was a magnificent formula for happiness.

Matthew saw Jubal’s reluctance, so quickly capsulized the purpose for his request for a sit down, explaining a little bit about the two hundred and fifty million dollar proposal. Jubal’s face lit up with a grin which quickly turned into a giggle.

“Yeah, I’ve heard about this crazy scheme.”

Matthew was a little unnerved. Neither the word “crazy” or “scheme” seemed a favorable take. “Just fifteen minutes. That’s all I ask.”

Jubal contemplated. “The reason I hesitate, Mr…what was your name again?”

“Just call me Matthew.”

Jubal grinned from ear to ear. “I love Matthew. It may be my favorite Gospel–mainly because it contains the Sermon on the Mount, which is still the most radical manifesto ever spoken to human beings.”

Matthew nodded, pretending he was keeping up. Jubal continued.

“As I was saying, Matthew, it’s not that I consider my time so valuable or that I feel I’m better than anyone else. It’s just that what I do is so personal and important to me that I don’t want to lose it in a flurry of fake interest.”

Matthew smiled. “Well, I can tell you, Jubal, my interest is not fake, and I haven’t seen a flurry since the great snowstorm of 1978.”

Jubal laughed, agreeing to meet with him the next day.

But Matthew had a little bit of the investigative reporter in him. Even though he was impressed with Jubal’s talent and somewhat convinced of his sincerity, he decided to put on a disguise and follow him around the rest of the day.

Rehearsals, a sandwich for lunch with a bowl of chicken noodle soup, more rehearsals, time in his suite to clean up and get ready for the show, the show, and then, all at once, Matthew lost him.

Matthew had assumed Jubal would join the rest of the band backstage for deli trays and shop talk. He didn’t.

So believing the story about the homeless, Matthew headed off to the area of town where the ignored souls were relegated a place. He asked around about Jubal. Most of the folks were tight-lipped, suspicious. But with the aid of a twenty-dollar bill, one fellow told him the location of the limousine motel.

Matthew had no idea what he was going to do when he got there. He certainly didn’t want to interrupt, but he did want to experience. So when he was about twenty paces from the limousine, he got down on his stomach, crawled the rest of the distance, and cuddled up to the back door, where he could hear what was going on inside.

Actually, it was not much. A quiet hum of conversation, a few laughs and then everyone fell quiet except for the voice of Jubal Carlos.

Jubal explained to the other three souls who had been invited to his little palace that he was going to offer a very brief devotion.

“When we woke up this morning, none of us knew we would be together this evening. You know what that tells me? Life is uncertain. Life is not that different from a game of chance you might participate in down at one of the casinos. I’ve lost plenty of money gambling on what might happen. I need to tell you that I believe in Jesus. I don’t believe in Jesus because I’m religious–I believe in Jesus because he’s the only person in all of history and all time who believes in everybody. He doesn’t like the Jews better than the Germans and he doesn’t like the casino owners better than you. I thank you for joining me in my little escape capsule, but I want you to know, you’re not forgotten. And the Jesus in me loves you, and the Jesus that could be in you loves you more.”

Suddenly there was the sound of a man weeping. Jubal obviously moved to comfort him, but the whispers were too soft for Matthew to hear. It was time for him to leave.

After crawling away, he stood to his feet and nearly fell over. Matthew was shaken.

For you see, Matthew had found Jesus.

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Good News and Better News … March 14th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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St. James Composite 2

Saint James Lutheran Church in Fayetteville, North Carolina.

Realizing that you may never include this sanctuary as a stop off in your pilgrimage of American churches, I will attempt to relate my experience of enjoying the fine folk I met there.

The pastor is John Locke, who has the noble name of a great English philosopher, the inspiration to such American forefathers as James Madison, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson. (Thomas, by the way, used much of Locke’s language in penning the Declaration of Independence.)

That said, I will tell you that I enjoyed the present incarnation of John Locke of Fayetteville equally.

The congregation was inspiring, and therefore capable of being inspired. Although there were certainly individuals who were curious about my pedigree and what my theological background was, most of them just relaxed and allowed me the chance to share my talents and my heart.

They arrived having survived a week of bitter political struggles and angry candidates, generating a climate threatening mayhem. Let’s be honest–most of us feel rather insignificant when we are viewing the 24-hour news cycle and realize how meager our simple efforts may seem.

But that’s the purpose of the church. It is supposed to be a safe zone–a place where you come to escape social pressure, politics and even religion, and spend an hour or so finding reasons to still believe.

It is a sanctuary where we can proclaim:

1. We’re human.

And then we can ask God, “Is that what you expected?”

We’re not perfect, because in striving for such a position, we would look both prideful and foolish.

2. We’re more “child” than “angel.”

So heavenly Father, enchant us.

Any God we serve who expects us to become more than we are is a charlatan. We are God’s children, and therefore definitely require a certain amount of entertainment with our enlightenment.

3. We need a safe place to come.

The world is full of tribulation, and even though we understand that Jesus has overcome the world, we require a reason to be of good cheer.

It is up to the good folks at Saint James–from leadership all the way through nursery–to provide such an atmosphere.

If they do, they will become viable and powerful in the community, offering an option to the raging storms of those who follow the present wind-blowing.

If they insist on being religious and trap themselves in the drapings of their faith, they will not only be an anachronism to a former time, but will find themselves gnawing on each other out of frustration.

So there’s the good news.

We’re human, we are more like children and we need a safe zone.

But here is the better news: on top of all that, we have this quality–just a bit of sweet, creative divinity placed within us by the breath of God, hinting that we also can surprise you.

We are capable of being gentle and powerful.

So watch us.

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