Reverend Meningsbee (Part 35) A Finer Diner… January 1st, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Reverend Meningsbee

Meningsbee was spooked.

He wasn’t exactly sure why–maybe it was being awakened by a stranger pounding on his door. Or it could be the haunting dream that Nico shared about empty boxes at Christmas time. Or maybe he was just baffled by why he was traveling through Texas, spending money to pretend he was a vagrant.

Whatever the reason, he gathered up his blankets, pillows and the few items he had brought into the motel room, threw them into the back seat of his car and headed out on the road.

He didn’t know where he was going, but he knew one thing for sure: it wasn’t Garsonville.

He wasn’t ready.

So he puttered around from little village to tiny burg for a couple of days, realizing he was going to have to call the church and have someone stand in for him on Sunday. It wouldn’t be a big deal–the congregation was practically on auto-pilot anyway. All the changes he had suggested had brought about a freedom and liberty which gave the people a delightful blending of humility and confidence.

So when he called the office to tell them he would be delayed, the secretary didn’t even question him.

He wasn’t going to Garsonville–but he did feel compelled to at least head in that direction.

So two days later, he found himself sitting in a small diner in Amarillo, Texas, when he looked up from his breakfast of two eggs, turkey sausage and toast, and saw Mercer.

At first his brain didn’t register. But after a second glance, he realized it really was Mercer, walking in the door of the diner.

Mercer was a member of the Garsonville congregation–a quiet, sturdy fellow who was so invisible that Meningsbee had never even learned his last name. He was also a little afraid of Mercer, because the fellow sometimes showed up wearing a camouflage tie.

But then, all of a sudden, in the middle of Amarillo, Texas, Mercer had appeared, with a little smile on his face.

Meningsbee could not disguise his shock, and as Mercer made his way to the table and sat down, he said, “Are you surprised, Reverend?”

“More than surprised,” said Meningsbee. “How did you find me?”

Mercer leaned back in his chair, peered at the Reverend and replied, “Well, I don’t know if I ever told you this, but I worked in Army Intelligence, and it didn’t take me long to follow the paper trail you left with your credit cards.”

Meningsbee frowned. Mercer continued, “Oh, don’t be upset. You can find anybody anytime you want as long as they’re willing to sign on the dotted line.”

“What are you doing here?” whispered Meningsbee.

“Well, I came to find you,” said Mercer. “Seems like I did a pretty good job.”

“Okay…” Meningsbee was not sure what else to say.

There was a slight pause and then Mercer filled in the silence. “What seems to be the problem, Pastor? Are you addicted to pills?”

Startled, Meningsbee replied, “Pills? No. Why would you think that?’

“Oh, it’s just that sometimes you have that pasty-white face of a heroin user.”

Meningsbee shook his head. “No, I’m not addicted to pills. Just pasty white.”

“Hookers?” asked Mercer.

“Again–no,” punctuated Meningsbee.

“Then it must be gambling.”

“Listen, Mercer. I don’t gamble.” Meningsbee realized if he didn’t speak up, Mercer would continue his probing. “If you must know, I’m very upset about what’s happening in our town with the broadcast, and also the intrusion they’ve made into my personal life.”

“You mean how they stole your computer?” asked Mercer.

“How’d you know that?”

“Once again–I was in Army Intelligence. If I want to know it, I can pretty well find out. What was on your computer?”

Meningsbee sat quietly. He didn’t know what to share with Mercer. He didn’t know anything about him. So he decided to be evasive.

“Personal things,” Meningsbee said flatly.

“Like pornography, you mean?” asked Mercer, leaning forward and lowering his voice.

“Maybe like that,” said Meningsbee, relenting.

Mercer chuckled. “Listen, Reverend. Nobody thinks you’re perfect. Lots of people don’t even think you’re good. There are even some folks who think you’re pretty bad. So here’s how it works–the people who know you aren’t perfect will forgive you. The people who think you’re kind of good will be alarmed that you made a mistake but they’ll get over it. And the people who think you’re bad will just think worse about you. You can’t win people. God’s been working on their hearts for thousands and thousands of years. Isn’t that what you preach? But you also can’t run. That’s somewhere in the Bible, isn’t it? So I came out here on my own to find you and let you know that our little town needs you. We’ve made some stupid mistakes trusting these big-town phonies. Now we look pretty ridiculous. We could sure use someone to help us get out of this. What do you say?”

“Are you gonna tell anybody about our conversation?”

“Well, I’ll tell you this, Parson. You got no business lookin’ at that trash. But it really ain’t my affair. Do I disrespect you for doing it? A little. But I’ll get over it. The point is–will you? Because pictures on the Internet will never replace the wife you lost.”

Maybe it was the tenderness of the statement.

Maybe it was too many days on the road in Texas.

Or maybe it was just dissatisfaction with his turkey sausage.

But Meningsbee broke down in tears.

Mercer stood to his feet and patted him on the shoulder. “Do you need me to follow you home, or do you know the way?”

Meningsbee chuckled. “I got my GPS set.” He looked up. “Thank you, Mercer.”

Mercer sprouted a big smile. “You don’t know my last name, do you?”

“I’m sorry, I don’t.”

“Well, good. That’ll make it harder for you to track me down.”

Mercer turned and walked out of the diner as Meningsbee stared straight ahead.

It was time to go back.

It was time to take on his responsibility.

And it was time to stop being afraid.

 

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Good News and Better News … December 28th, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Good News Fulford jpeg

Rarely do we find ourselves abused by the Devil from Hell, nor steered by the Lord of the Heaven.

Most of the time, we are situated smack-dab in the middle of our own whim or lack of planning.

It really is good news.

It would be a miserable thought–to believe that we mortals are part of a cosmic chess game between good and evil, and more often than not, end up being the sacrificial pawn.

This little piece of joy came to my mind this week as I arrived in South Florida to celebrate the birth of Jesus with my family, work on my blogs, make plans for the coming year, and do two gigs in the area.

Honestly, I had some apprehension about being able to pull off all the stipulated events with the amount of professional quality and personal touch I felt was necessary. But fortunately for me, I’ve been granted the grace of having a wonderful group of sons, daughters-in-law and grandchildren, who seem to be functioning quite well on the auto-pilot of faith.

In other words, I didn’t need to do nearly as much as I thought I would. Therefore, I was much more qualified.

On the other hand, making plans for the coming year to enhance my program, enriching the results, is a labor of love to me. The Gospel is always good news, but it is refreshing to find a way to make that revelation even more inspiring and easy to understand.

So by the time I arrived at my two performances on Sunday, I was itchy to share my heart.

The fine folks in North Miami, pastored by a delightful young man named Nathan, welcomed us with open arms, even though I’m sure we appeared at first to be strangers.

I just happen to believe that in the pursuit of loving your brothers and sisters, the best route to achieving such a sublime experience is to seek out commonality. My dear God, we have so much in common.

So by the time I got to my Sunday evening performance, I was prepared to relish the people around me, and was especially invigorated because the venue is a new church plant pastored by my son, Jerrod.

He’s always had a calling in his life, although, like many of us, it seemed a little in the distance from the everyday chores of maintaining life and limb.

But now–he’s launched.

About thirty souls came out, and we just had a festive time in our human smorgasbord.

The two churches had something in common: they were unsure enough of what they are doing to be open to the possibility of the Holy Spirit changing lives.

So I celebrated the good news, which is: there is no Devil chasing me nor God manipulating me. Rather, I am a free-will agent to pursue my heart’s desire.

And the better news is that all the fretting and fuming I may do from time to time, wondering if my abilities are sufficient, is irrelevant and quickly calmed by the realization of two beautiful ideas:

1. If it’s not my business, then drench it in mercy and love.

2. If it is my business, fill it with creativity.

 

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