Cracked 5 … August 24th, 2019

Jonathots Daily Blog

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Cracked 5

Answers to the question, “Why Are We Here?”

A.  Why are we here? Really horny chimpanzees

 

B.  Why are we here? Needed a place for mentally retarded angels

 

C.  Why are we here? God is playing again

 

D.  Why are we here? ‘Over there’ didn’t allow fat, homely people

 

E.  Why are we here? To divide up in colors and kill each other

 

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Good News and Better News … December 25th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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I went to church today.

There was no choir. There were no pews. There was no sermon. There was no invocation, except the squealing delight of children. There was no real benediction, but for the promises of those who had gathered to stay more in contact.

There was no threat of damnation, nor promise of streets of gold. There was so much contentment in being together that intimidation was unnecessary, and coercion, meaningless.

You see, I’m a father.

As a father, I do not evaluate my children by how much they adore me or praise my name. I determine the health of my children by how much they love each other–because it would be easy for them to despise their siblings so as to gain my favor, and perhaps, secure a sweeter inheritance.

So praising Daddy does not mean nearly as much as honoring one another.

In the church service this morning, there was respect for humanity. There was anticipation in the eyes of those who were giving, and a nervous jubilance twitching in the fingertips of those who were preparing to receive. An electricity filled the air that could only be adequately fueled by a perpetual flow of sweets and treats.

It was a worship of the Christ child–a salute to a simple birth, which simply ushered in the possibility of “peace on Earth, good will toward men.”

It was an intergenerational feast day of emotion and anticipation, culminating in the removal of all vexation, curses and grudges.

It was the kind of meeting of souls that causes the angels to sit back in awe, pricked in the heart with a bit of jealousy over not being human.

For we do everything best just as we do everything worst. We are God’s creation, who knows both the knowledge of good and the depths of evil.

Oh, but when we want to be good…we can be amazing.

We can bring tears to our Heavenly Father’s eyes when we tenderly take our human flesh and extend it from His mind and soul to reach into the hearts and lives of others.

Today I went to church. Some people would call it Christmas morning.

The good news is that Christmas morning is church.

The better news is, the more we take every church service and make it like Christmas morning, the more blessed the world would be.

 

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Jesonian … December 23rd, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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A baby being born in a sheep stall in Bethlehem of poor Palestinian parents is not difficult to believe. After all, poverty extracts much of the comfort of good cheer.

Maybe the angels seem a little far-fetched to you (but you know how it is with stories about your young’uns.)

Believing that a year-and-a-half later, a troop of astrologers made their way into town to proclaim this child the hope of the world and the King of the Jews does seem highly unlikely–yet there are always people who have their eccentric ways and live them out because they have enough money to fund them.

Comprehending that there could be a leader of a nation who was so insecure that he was frightened of any competition, and scared a young family away, fearing for their lives, does not seem improbable. Matter of fact, it could be ripped from the headlines. One more refugee family ending up in a foreign land where they have neither kin nor kind is certainly well within the grasp of reality.

Having that young boy return to his alleged home town at age seven, carrying all the trappings and mannerisms of the heathen, would certainly make growing up difficult, not to mention the colliding wills of an every-growing collection of siblings.

Thinking that this boy would have no interest in carpentry, but instead, a precocious passion for humanity and the things of Spirit, is not implausible. After all, he’s the ugly duckling, whom we assume might one day become a swan. He grew in wisdom and stature, and even though he was a foreigner, gradually gained the favor of his neighbors.

It’s not difficult to believe that he lost his Papa, his only real connection with the village of Nazareth, and like many young men, launched out to find some purpose, ending up at the Jordan River, interacting with a wild and wooly cousin named John.

You can certainly believe he got baptized, and probably went out into the wilderness for a while, just to find himself, coming back with claims of interfacing with the devil. You might even forgive his youthful explanation, knowing that to some degree, we all wrestle with our demons.

But the story stalls.

He is rejected by his home town, moves to Capernaum next to the Sea of Galilee, encompassed by a sea of apathy, picks up some friends and followers, and starts traveling the countryside. It is hit-and-miss at best.

It is at this point that many folks who consider themselves to be intelligent and reasonable become cynical about a miracle-worker who calms the waves and casts out demons. But to a certain degree, even those sardonic souls might be able to explain away this and that, but still maintain their interest in the story–especially since he begins to hammer away at religion, loses the favor of the crowd and opens the door of the hierarchy to plot against him, find a betrayer, try him, beat him, nail him to a cross and kill him.

If the story ended there, the baby born in Bethlehem had a life that was a complete failure. His friends are scattered in every direction, his movement was about to become a joke–a piece of farcical history.

So this is where faith comes in. That’s right–you don’t really have to use much to this point. You can just glide along with the story, picking and choosing at will.

But the tale that unfolds, spoken of by those who claimed to be eyewitnesses, is that this baby of Bethlehem rose from the dead.

Now … faith is in full function and also full demand.

Did Jesus of Bethlehem, Egypt, Nazareth, Jordan River, wilderness, Capernaum and Mesopotamia end his life as a failure, beaten down by his critics?

Or did God, the power of the Ethos and the Spirit of the Universe, choose to resurrect him to give the message one more chance?

It’s a very important decision.

It changes this story from a baby shower to a heaven-ordained miracle.

For as we know, several weeks later, a hundred and twenty people in an Upper Room believed it was true. Twelve disciples gave their lives as martyrs, insisting they had witnessed a resurrection.

And at last count, 2.2 billion humans still living two thousand years later have taken their faith beyond the crib, past the crypt … and placed it in the Christ.

 

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PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant … December 13th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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I Am Christmas

I need a virgin mind

To process what I find

I need the Spirit to birth

Some peace upon our Earth

Give me a simple place

To reach the human race

The angels from on high

Descend from the sky

To inhabit my human frame

The message to proclaim

“Good will to men and women,” you see

Let the tenderness begin with me

Stars in my eyes

Reject vicious lies

Follow the dreamer’s path

Abandon the King of Wrath

Shepherd my thoughts toward grace

See God in my neighbor’s face

My heart is the gold I bring

Blessing is the song I sing

It’s Jesus, Prince of Care

The only wisdom I know to share

For the Word has become my skin

Free at last of the burden of sin

I will dwell among my likeness

To humbly share with kindness

For I am Christmas–come and see

The manger child reborn in me.

 

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Cracked 5 … December 12th, 2017


Jonathots Daily Blog

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 If Amazon Sent a “Complete Christmas Package” for You and Me from Bethlehem.gov it would include:

A. One carton of the finest virgin olive oil from the Middle East

 

B. Three shepherd pies from the ovens of Scotland

 

C. The complete video series of The Three Stooges–lots of wise-crackin’ from the “stars”

 

D. Matching lambs-wool, angel-soft sweaters from Jerusalem International Fashion Gala

 

E. The latest book: “Nighttime Meditations for the True Seeker” by Joseph Carpenter

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Jesonian … December 9th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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To the classic question, “Were you born in a barn?” I can truthfully answer, “Matter of fact, I was.”

Although my good friends, Matthew and Luke, did a charming job relating the circumstances of my coming into this world, many layers and textures of the actual tale were left out in favor of a concise sharing, a Hollywood ending with all the participants–shepherds, wise men, angels and Holy Family–lined up in a row for a photo op.

Certainly beautiful and even miraculous, the actual unfoldings were different. I did not learn all the factors of my birth in Bethlehem until I was twelve years old. Mary and Joseph wisely chose to withhold some of the more frightening aspects of the experience from my ears until I was of an age when I could at least attempt comprehension.

But following a trip to Jerusalem, where I was particularly disobedient to them by chasing my curiosity instead of using my common sense, they sat down one night along the trail and spilled.

First, let’s understand that a young girl getting pregnant without a husband was always met with shunning or stoning. Mary’s simplicity and piety did not spare her from the wicked tongues of the gossips.

Joseph felt pressure. We’re told that an angel spoke to him, but Joseph never confirmed that with me. He said he was tortured in his dreams and finally realized that he loved my mother more than he wanted the approval of the town elders.
He did not need to make the journey to Bethlehem with Mary–he could have represented on his own to give the information about the taxes. He brought her because he was afraid to leave her alone.

So they made a fifteen day journey to a little town outside Jerusalem, which had no significance in their lives other than the fact that some “Great-Great Somebody” was born there and Joseph happened to be part of that clan.

When Mother and Father were unable to access lodging in the houses surrounding the town square, they quietly slipped into the stable, hoping not to be discovered. The innkeeper found them huddled in a corner among the animals, and when he saw that Mary was hopelessly pregnant, he chose to leave them alone rather than interfering.

They were stowaways in an animal shelter.

The birth was difficult because Mary was so small, weary from the journey–and both of them completely inexperienced with the process.

No shepherds arrived that first night. No angels sang. Nothing but grunting animals, relieved parents because the baby actually came out whole, and a chill in the air disguised by the heated odor of the stable’s occupants.

The next morning Joseph went to try to find food, and both of them realized there was no place for them to go. They would need to stay where they were for eight days to fulfill the Jewish law on circumcising the baby, so they remained as quiet as possible, hoping the innkeeper would leave them alone.

Three days passed with them scrounging for food, tucking themselves away in the farthest corner of the manger. It was on the fourth night that some shepherds did arrive. They looked perplexed, abashed and completely out of their element. They explained that they had been spoken to from the skies and told to come to find a baby in a stable.

It made no sense. Matter of fact, there was a sniff of alcohol on all three of them which hinted that the visit from heaven might have come from a flask. But Mary and Joseph listened politely, and it made for great conversation over the next few days while they waited for the circumcision.

Arriving at the temple on the eighth day, they were accosted by two very old, wild-eyed individuals–one man and one woman–who claimed the gift of prophecy. They told Mary and Joseph that the baby was going to be great and amazing. Even though Mary and Joseph wanted to believe the words, they feared the utterings were coming from dementia rather than another dimension.

Then things became really difficult. There was no need to go back to Nazareth. The presence of the baby would only increase the gossip.

So Joseph talked to the local carpenter and secured a single room in his home in exchange for work. The job included repair work, masonry and even some garbage collection.

They found contentment, until Joseph was awakened by an angel. (This time he really believed it was an angel.) He was told to leave Bethlehem to protect me from danger. When Joseph told me the story, he said it was the hardest decision he had ever made. It seemed illogical, for they had been in the carpenter’s home for a year-and-a-half and had found some peace of mind. Leaving seemed futile, if not insane.

Before departure could be executed, there was a visit from foreigners–those wise men mentioned in the Gospel story. They brought gifts. They inserted finance into a family that was about to be on the lam from the law. It was certainly timely.

The visitors explained about a star in the sky, but Mary and Joseph never really understood the significance, nor the tie-in.

During the journey to Egypt and the next six years of exile, I developed a separation anxiety. I just never felt part of anything. When Mary and Joseph started having other children, I didn’t feel like a brother. It was more like I was an intrusive uncle or a foster child.

This haunted me my whole life. I never felt quite secure with my surroundings. There were times I left the fellowship with my disciples to slip away and get my head straight, so I wouldn’t come off like a crazy man, nervous and frustrated.

Even though Egypt saved me from King Herod, the rejection hung in my mind throughout my life. I had to be careful not to get offended by the treatment I received. I learned mercy because I had no sense of mercy being given to me.

It became especially strong, and nearly violent in my soul, when Nazareth rejected my ministry, and then my mother and family thought I was crazy. I had to walk away from them.

You see, Christmas is a different tale to me.

It’s a story like many stories in the sense that God’s hand is not completely obvious in the moment, and is only unveiled through the endurance of his followers.

God picked the right pair. For if Mary had been prissy, Joseph would not have been able to manage without her. And if Joseph had been too conventional, Mary would never have been able to muster a companion. They needed each other.

Christmas is a miracle story–about God allowing people of faith to use their faith to do faithful things, to see their faith make things whole.

So Merry Christmas.

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PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant … September 13th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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When I Fuss

When I fuss over nothing

I hear laughter from the clouds

As I stomp in fury

A thousand ants scurry to safety

Taking a deep breath

A galaxy is rescued

Smiling at a stranger

Locates the starving child

Look at me, curse my life

And the graveyard moans a desire

My gossiping is spewing lies

Delaying Mother from sprinkling rain

A donation placed in a pauper’s hand

Dribbles a cup of concern to the demented

Voicing my objection to godly science

Giggling angels shake their heads, shrugging

My purpose is meaningful, I find I can

When I abandon my selfish plan.

 

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