Good News and Better News… November 7th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3118)

good-news-trinity-mansfield-sign-pic-1Autumn reminds me of getting older. It occasionally offers memories of the warmth of earlier days, but things start falling off your limbs.

As I woke up and drove to Trinity United Methodist Church in Mansfield, Ohio, it was a beautiful, sunshine-blessed fall morning–invigorating to the body and soul. I think other people felt that as well, because Pastor Bob and the congregation shared a gentle and kind greeting.good-news-trinity-mansfield-clouds-pic-2

I was also blessed to have my nephew and sister-in-law show up for the gig, and we had a few minutes in my green room to catch up and rediscover why we like each other (even though we’re related).

Then it was time for the service. I’m always intrigued by the fact that we pursue the traditions of religion without considering whether they are adequate for the needs of humans. What is the purpose of God putting together a ceremony which does nothing to enrich the lives of the participants?

What do we need from church?

First and foremost–good cheer.

Fortunately for us, Jesus said “he came that our joy might be full.” For after all, we cannot survive another experience that leaves us contemplating without rejoicing.

The second thing church should give us is fellowship.

Once again, God looked ahead and saw our need. Jesus proclaimed, “By this you shall know my followers–that they have love for one another.”

After good cheer and fellowship, we all desperately need forgiveness.

Jesus warned us that “except we repent, we shall perish. But if we do repent, “God is faithful and just to forgive us.” This pardon makes us a little bit more willing to consider being gracious to others.

So you can see, what we need out of church is also what God expects out of church.

Passing off the traditions of men and calling them the commandments of God is what really pissed off Jesus.

So the good news is that if we offer hope and cheer, fellowship and forgiveness, we will not only be doing God’s will, but we will be presenting an atmosphere which is conducive to the growth of human beings.

The better news is that it is a lot more pleasant to do this than arguing over hymns, trying to stay awake during sermons, and bickering over the color of the carpet in the vestibule.

good-news-trinity-mansfield-jon-pic-3

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Jesonian: Reverend Meningsbee (Part 27) Carpet Bombing … October 30th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3110)

Reverend Meningsbee

You can’t have valleys without mountains. It’s the beauty of the landscape of life.

In the midst of the sludge of mundane activity and the alarm of tragedies, there are everyday decisions which either tickle the funny bone or leave us with a tiny ball of aggravation which tends to growl for weeks after the infestation.

Mike and Maggie had been wed for thirty-two years. They were married at the Garsonville Church. They had served on almost every committee, and faithfully performed the duties of nearly all positions. Although they loved each other dearly, they rarely agreed when it came to matters of what should be done with the sanctuary.

Ten years earlier, they had a huge conflict–long before Meningsbee arrived–about carpet.

Maggie was a traditionalist, a woman whose grandparents came to America from Ireland during the potato famine. She had fiery red hair, now streaked with gray, and possessed a Catholic passion with her Protestant faith.

Her husband, on the other hand, was a progressive–well, as progressive as you dare be in Garsonville, Nebraska. He nearly convinced a majority of the church board to sell the organ to put a down-payment on a project to build a gymnasium, so the local kids could come and play games on Saturday, with the intent that they might decide to stay over for Sunday services out of curiosity.

The measure lost by one vote. Maggie’s.

Even though the two loved each other faithfully, they rarely agreed on God’s will for Garsonville.

So when it was time to purchase carpet ten years earlier, Maggie insisted the only suitable color for the sanctuary was red. She had two reasons. Red carpet was a sign of welcoming and also a tribute to the blood of Jesus.

Mike strongly disagreed. He contended it was “just too red.” He led a group which desired cranberry carpet from Dalton, Georgia. Amazingly, this time, unlike the gymnasium, the “cranberries” won.

So the sanctuary was covered with cranberry carpet, much to the chagrin of Maggie and her crimson cohorts.

Now, recently…

There had been complaints that the cranberry carpet was looking dingy and needed to be cleaned, so it was agreed to find a contractor to remove all the pews so the carpet could be shampooed. It was quite a job.

Several local carpet cleaners bid on the job but it was the Garsonville Bubble-Uppers, a new firm in town, which underpriced the competition and was given the contract.

Arrangements were made to hold services elsewhere for two weeks so the cleaners could have full access to the church and be able to do a great job.

Everyone was elated. Maggie thought cleaning the carpet might make it more red, and Mike was convinced that such a cleansing would restore the original beauty of his cranberry vision.

But no one was prepared for what happened.

One of the young men working with the Bubble-Uppers thought it might be a good idea to add a little bleach to the concoction which was traditionally used by the company. He didn’t inform anyone of his decision–just poured it in.

So they scrubbed the carpets faithfully, only to discover when they returned the next day that the cranberry carpets had been transformed.

They were orange.

Bright orange.

The Bubble-Uppers were very apologetic, and refused to charge the church for their services, but a very shocked and bewildered congregation restored its pews on top of a carpet ablaze with bright fall-colored pumpkin.

Everyone was afraid to say too much about it–they knew there was no money in the budget to get new carpeting.

So for the first time ever, Mike and Maggie came to consolation.

Mike decided that orange was better than red and Maggie was convinced that it was closer to red than that horrible cranberry.

 

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G-Poppers … October 16th, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(2724)

Jon close up

Grandson and Granddaughter came running into the room under a great cloud of bickering.

Grandson had obviously had a tiff with a friend because he was proclaiming, “People are bad,” while Granddaughter was defending the race, saying that “people are good.”

G-Pop sat quietly listening, allowing the smoke to clear from their battle.

At length, Granddaughter asked, “What do you think, G-Pop? Are people bad? Or good?”

G-Pop smiled and said, “People are like really smart, well-trained dogs. They have learned that if they don’t pee on the carpet, they get more treats. If they stay out of the closet and refrain from chewing shoes, they receive more freedom on the leash. And if they learn when to bark, and certainly never bite, they are considered a treasure.”

“But when they’re not smart, and they’re poorly trained, they tend to run in packs, attacking anyone who’s weak. But let me tell you–it does not matter if the dog is smart or well-trained. You still must keep it away from cats and garbage cans–because every dog, when it gets around its enemy–the cat–turns into a scrapper. And every canine becomes nothing less than an animal when it hangs around the garbage.”

When G-Pop finished his little comparative narrative, he realized he was dealing with a split audience.

His grandson seemed delighted, having his faith restored that new tricks were possible from a “dogged” populace. But G-Pop’s granddaughter–well, she seemed disgusted, displaying a “screw the pooch” face.

“People aren’t dogs,” she snarled as she scampered out of the room.

G-Pop giggled. Turning to his grandson, he concluded, “She’s right, you know. People aren’t really dogs. Yet getting smarter and better trained may still be our best path to guarding our houses, while still remaining man’s best friend.”

 

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