PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant … October 11th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3456)

What That Dude Sees in Me

I am not what you think I am

Always good or mostly bad

I am more than I appear to be

Sometimes happy, often sad

I am a believing soul

Filled with guilty doubt

I am usually half, rarely whole

Plagued by this childish pout

I know more than I recall

Fat I am, insisting I’m tall

My knack for offering sexual pleasure

Is rather limited, not beyond measure

I’m cranky when sweet is required

Full of fuss, rarely desired

I believe in myself to a fault

While questioning you and your result

I’m never nasty, but tart and sour

Squabbling over minutes, I then lose my hour

I am my father’s son and my mother’s little boy

I’m reminded things are good

But refuse to walk in joy

Yet yesterday a whisper caught my ear

I mustered the function to stop and hear

You were in need, I understood

Reaching out, did what I could

You called me an angel–I had to smile

Recounting my temper and fits of guile

Even though I’m riddled with delusion

I was truly uplifted by your conclusion

So a prayer I offered to the open sky

A humble plea, a dreamer’s cry

Lord, guide this chump to be

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Come To Think Of It … Sunday, December 25th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3166)

christmas

Come To Think Of It

I am not Santa Claus. Ho, ho, NO.

I am not Jesus. I can turn water into ice.

I am not an elf. Closer to Santa Claus there.

I am not snow. I find it impossible to melt–especially pounds.

I am not a Christmas tree. I would find it difficult to be evergreen.

I am not a manger. HAY!!

I am not Joseph. I have mistrusted women.

I am not Mary. It’s been a long time since I’ve been a virgin.

I am not a donkey, though I can act like…you got it. An ass.

I am not a star, but I’ve been a good warm-up act.

I am not a promise. I fail too often.

I am not salvation. But… where do we stand in line?

I am not the Prince of Peace. Too often I find myself in pieces.

I am not a shepherd. I can be impatient with sheep.

I am not an angel. I have a list of people who will confirm this.

I am not the King of Kings. I’m learning to be crowned with humility.

Of course, not the Lord of Lords. Though some of you may think I lord it over you.

I am not the Little Drummer Boy. Simple: not little, can’t drum, not really a boy.

I’m not Rudolph, though my nose gets red when I have high blood pressure.

I’m not tinsel, although I’m working on being the light in the world.

I am not Christmas. Just trying to be merry.

But today I looked out at a crazy world which pleaded to me with sad, distraught eyes. Help! So…

I must be Santa Claus. Time to pull on my boots.

I must be Jesus. Where is that neighbor to love?

I must be an elf. I’m practicing my “giddy.”

I must be snow. If you get my drift. (No flakes allowed.)

I must become a Christmas tree–standing tall for those who want to decorate me with great possibilities.

I will become the manger–a humble home for the Master.

I can become Joseph–believe in the people I love.

Mary? All I have left is a virgin heart.

I will be a donkey, making an ass of myself for a good cause.

Star light, star bright–I shall be the first star you see tonight.

I make this promise: no promises–just the truth.

I will become salvation in the sense that I will show you how powerful that gift can truly be.

I will be the Prince of Peacemakers, so I can be a child of God.

I will shepherd myself and as many souls as possible, to safety from the wolf.

I will become an angel by visiting those who haven’t seen angels for a long time.

Can I be a King of Kings? If by Kings, you mean helping those who need to find their personal place. Then, yes.

Lord of Lords? Certainly not. But I can show people that to be master is to serve.

Forget about the Little Drummer Boy. I’ll leave that to the marching band.

I certainly am Rudolph. I have strange things about me that I’m trying to use to get through the fog.

And like tinsel, I will find a place to hang in there and shed some light.

I am Christmas.

I am the only Christmas that some people will see.

I am Christmas, and without me, Christmas could become just another day of the week.

****

Meningsbee will return next week with the ongoing saga.

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Jesonian: Reverend Meningsbee (Part 30) Anchored … November 20th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Reverend Meningsbee

Katrina Middlesex was the news anchor of the USBN station. She insisted on being referred to as an anchor rather than anchor-woman or anchor-person, citing that she had no intention of “skirting” her responsibilities.

She requested a “meet and greet” with Reverend Meningsbee. Partially flattered but mostly trapped, the pastor agreed, but decided to make the pow-wow at his church office instead of his home. He selected that atmosphere because he didn’t feel comfortable talking to her in his private environment, and didn’t want to offer tea and crumpets (since he didn’t care for tea and had no idea what crumpets were).

She arrived promptly and didn’t waste time. Before her backside had completely hit the cushion on the chair she fired a question.

“What is it you have against this series we’re doing on your town?”

Meningsbee was equally as willing to commence. “It’s intrusive. You don’t really know these people. Many of the things you’re examining are multifaceted story-lines, and you’re focusing on one sensational aspect. And to be blunt, Ms. Middlesex…”

She interrupted immediately. “No, call me Katrina.”

Meningsbee relented. “All right, Katrina. To be candid, I don’t think you really care about the people on a human level, but rather, see them as caricatures for your network’s unfoldings.”

She smiled. “Well, well. You certainly don’t hold back, do you?”

“I’m not trying to be blunt, nor do I mean to be rude,” said Meningsbee. “It’s just that the commission I have here and the calling I enjoy asks me to be a shepherd, and that involves protecting the sheep from outside forces…”

Katrina interrupted again. “You mean like wolves? Do I look like a wolf to you?”

“Yes, actually, you do,” answered Meningsbee. “You don’t know you’re a wolf because you hang around with people who have teeth. The folks in Garsonville are simple, and dare I say, toothless.”

She giggled a little bit–almost girlish. “I don’t think you know the people quite as well as you think you do. Not only are they more complicated than you describe, but a bit more greedy. I’ve had numerous requests for revenue for the stories they’re providing, assuming, I suppose, that our network is making tremendous profit from their profferings.”

Meningsbee remained silent. A little piece of his soul was burning from the statement–partially due to the nastiness of her tone, but mostly because he was fully aware that the folks of Garsonville had been cast under the spell of big-town profit and gain.

Katrina waited for a moment, and then pursued. “Let me give you an example. The little boy with the miracle ears…”

Meningsbee jumped in. “Katrina, it was not a miracle. At least, not what you mean by a miracle. The young boy had a medical condition which the doctors felt might take care of itself and might not. It was beautiful that his inner awakening of healing happened during his baptism, but certainly it wasn’t due to an angel touching his ears.”

“Oh, ye of little faith. Wherein do you doubt?” Katrina chided.

“I believe in God,” said Meningsbee. “I just think the miracle He gives us is life, and we’re trying to learn how to use it and to pursue all of its meaning.”

Katrina opened up a notebook and began to read. “I have stories here of adultery, one horrible recounting of incest, somebody even referring to the fact that they might have witnessed a murder in the town. Are you aware of all this, Pastor Meningsbee?”

The Reverend sat for a long moment, staring at the self-satisfied anchor. “No,” he replied. “Nor do I wish to know. You see, my dear, repentance is something people do when they understand the depth of their error. Recounting is what they do when they’re in front of foolish people who are looking for the darker side of humanity.”

Ms. Middlesex smiled, but exuded no warmth. It was obvious she had no affection for the simple parson who stubbornly refused to submit to her charms. She rose to her feet and headed toward the door. Turning, she delivered one final statement.

“Richard…may I call you Richard?”

“You just did,” said Meningsbee.

“Richard, I have stories on everybody in this town. Including you. It is my job to discern which ones are suitable for air and will bring the most viewership. I try to use gentle discretion, but I am a business person, not a theologian.”

Meningsbee stood to his feet and stepped toward her. “And if all the atrocities done in the name of business would have taken into consideration the worth of a human life, we wouldn’t need theologians…because we’d be so close to God.”

Katrina squinted at him, extended her hand, which he took, shook and she slid out the door.

Meningsbee was a little baffled by the whole situation, not sure why she had come in the first place, but he exited the building, climbed into his car and went home. He was in the mood to have a good cup of coffee and retire to the cubby-hole he had set aside for personal time and study. Procuring his coffee, he headed into his little den of thought.

At the door he suddenly stopped, staring into the room–startled.

His computer was gone.

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Mr. Kringle’s Tales …26 Stories ‘Til Christmas

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“Quite literally the best Christmas stories I have ever read.” — Arthur Holland, Shelby, North Carolina

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Good News and Better News … September 26th, 2016

Jonathots Daily Blog

(3076) 

It is a medium-sized green table with retractable legs which we purchased at Wal-Mart about four years ago for $49.95.

tape-repairWe use it as a dining table in our motel room and it has faithfully served us many a meal, and even been put into service as a desk top for studious planning sessions. After all these years, it is a little beaten up, scarred and certainly worse the wear.

I could buy another table. I’m not cheap–it’s just that this table has not yet refused to stand up to its responsibilities. It continues to completely open itself up, offering its potential, although a bit bedraggled.

When I arrived at the Belleville United Methodist Church in Belleville, Michigan, and met so many intriguing individuals–including Pastor Jim–I was struck by the fact that most of us human beings are like my green table. We’ve been through some spills. We’ve been spread out, damaged and find ourselves in need of attention.

You can see in the picture where I have taken some duck tape to cover a multitude of errors.

Now here’s my thought–if we’re going to be a good church and reach people, the first thing we need to do is admit that we’ve been repaired. Yes, we’ve got the duck tape of salvation to prove it. We’re not pretty, but we’re still able to stand up.little-mirror-2

We also need to look in the mirror, not just for the purpose of good grooming, but to make note of our flaws before they become so obvious that we’re dubbed “ugly.”

So I carry a little mirror. I don’t like big mirrors–they display too much of me. But a little mirror lets me know that my face is still worth showing to the onlooker.

And I guess I want those people in Belleville to know that like a used Kleenex, I have already been put to the task, but well-used-3I’m still not ready to be thrown away.

Sometimes we look at older congregational members, and because they retired from their companies, we assume they’ve retired from life. Not so. None of us gets off that easy. Until we crawl into some sort of box and jettison off to heaven, we need to keep growing.

Yes, I’ve been used, but not abused, and I’m still worthy to be used some more.

And as you can see in the fourth picture, my table has some fresh tears. I haven’t gotten around to putting duck tape on them yet, but I’ll have to do so soon to keep them from spreading.

In other words, just like my table, I still have wounds. Sometimes I’m too touchy, so I keep coming back to church with my brothers and sisters because I need fixin’.

Many Americans don’t like to admit weakness. But the most powerful statement in life is, “I’m not good enough to be called good yet.” fresh-tear-4

In other words, don’t give up on me, don’t tell me I’m used up, but please remind me to look in my mirror and view my flaws.

The good news is, if visitors came to church and found human beings instead of folks trying to imitate what they think is righteous, they might just want to come back again.

The better news is, it’s much easier to live out life as a human instead of pretending you’re an angel.

 

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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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PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant … February 17th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(2847)

Pohymn the rose

Eureka

I am not afraid to doubt

Doubting purifies my belief

Belief links my spirit with willingness

Willingness is the giddy notion that there might be more

More is what God offers to my labored thinking

Thinking is cleansed by honoring feeling

Feeling lets me know I am human

Human is the merger of the monkey and the angel

Angels wish they were me

Me is the space I have been granted to experiment

I experiment because I am not afraid.

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Good News and Better News … January 25th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Good News Messiah Lutheran

I arrived early.

Nothing had started popping at Messiah Lutheran.

I was sitting at my book table checking out a few details when I looked across the vestibule and saw the bulletin board pictured above.

My first instinct was to chuckle since I was peering at a snowman while abiding in Panama City, Florida. But I guess because it was Sunday morning and my thoughts had become a bit introspective, I considered the snowman.

It isn’t, you know–a man, I mean.

If you came across a snowman and decided to melt it and free the human being inside, after extensive warming, all you would end up with is a puddle.

There’s nothing within.

It’s an imitation of life–using lumps of coal, a broom, a button, a scarf, a carrot and a top hat.

But it got me wondering if there are frozen people crusted over by the iciness of our culture, who really are more than just snowmen. Is it possible to become so chilled by indifference that you live beneath inches of ice?

Well, I certainly see it in politics.

Freezing out your competition and appearing above the fray, free of fault, seems to be the “call of the wild” in Washington. But I fear if the real heat of pressure and responsibility fell upon any one of them, they would sink into a drippy mess.

How about entertainment?

What could be more hypocritical than a bunch of snowmen in Hollywood who think they are so open-minded and liberal, who make a stand against guns–even as they use pistils, automatic rifles and any number of instruments of mayhem to kill thousands of human beings in their plotlines.

Then there’s religion.

Seems to me that we have sunk to the position of the Pharisees of Jesus’ day, who spent their time counting cups, cleaning plates and decorating their robes.

Snowmen.

Nothing really left inside–just a cold form of what they once might have looked like.

So as I prepared to share with the folks at Messiah, I was reminded of the sarcastic statement of the angel, speaking to the women who came to the tomb to embalm Jesus: “Why seek ye the living among the dead?”

I had to ask myself a two-part question:

  • Is my life the pursuit of melting snowmen, only to find there’s nothing really there?
  • Or, under this arctic exterior, are there still living human beings who would like to have joy and abundant life?

The good news is that Messiah lifted my spirits.

Although at first they treated us as strangers, our hearts soon burned within us, taking away the frigid fear.

It was powerful.

It was good.

It was hopeful.

And unlike the snowman on the wall of their bulletin board, what I discovered were human beings suffering from a little hypothermia from being exposed to too much cold. So here’s the better news: We can warm up society and find out where the snowmen are and where the people just need to come in out of the elements.

1. When you see somebody doing a good job and you know they make minimum wage, give them a buck and a word of encouragement for their extra-mile efforts.

2. When you’re in the doctor’s office, instead of pretending to read an out-dated magazine, attempt to strike up a conversation with a nearby human being and see where it takes you.

3. Let “thank you” come off your lips more and more easily.

4. Lead with a smile long before you come face-to-face.

5. Appreciate the small things and be amazed at how the big things begin to take care of themselves.

6. Sit in your quiet, staid church and clap your hands during one of the hymns and see if anyone joins you.

I could go on and on.

Here are two dangers in life: falling under the spell of the deep freeze, or believing that you have no power to thaw it.

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