Jesonian: Reverend Meningsbee (Part 22) Thirty Days Has Remember… September 25th, 2016

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Reverend Meningsbee

One month passed.

It’s one of those phrases a writer inserts to move the story along. But they don’t really move. Stories must be evicted from the hovel where they huddle to escape progress.

Ten days after the “Old Time Religion Community Church” signed its incorporation papers in the living room of Sammy Collins’ home on a table near the fireplace, he was rushed to the hospital, red lights flashing. He had collapsed at work and everyone was certain it was a heart attack. The town was abuzz with gossip and prayer.

As it turned out, it was a ruptured gall bladder, and while he was having his personal rendition of that organ removed, it was discovered that he also had high blood pressure and bad cholesterol.

It was suggested he slow down.

Also within the month, a crumpled letter arrived in the mail at Matrisse’s house, postmarked Atlantic City, New Jersey. Inside was a note and a ten-dollar bill.

In her own words, Kitty attempted to explain to Matrisse that she was on an odyssey to find herself, which had taken her to the East Coast, and that she had found a job as a bartender at one of the casinos which had managed to escape bankruptcy.

Kitty said she was sorry and happy at the same time–because she missed her little Hapsy, but knew she was well taken care of, and until Kitty could find all her answers, she was probably better off separated from her growing daughter.

Also, about fifteen days into the “month of remember,” an article appeared in the local paper about Patrick Swanson and the church meeting at the Holiday Inn Express, entitled, “A Gathering for the Young Up-and-Coming Conservative.”

It seemed that Patrick had found his target market, as they say in the world of social media. Being interviewed by the local reporter, he explained that the congregation did not believe in gay marriage, government interference, and were certainly strongly against gender blurring. What they were interested in were young families who wanted to see the country return to its original glisten and gleam.

Then, seven days ago, a young boy named Alex Bachman arrived at school early, went into the lower portions of the building to the furnace room, threw a rope over the top of a pipe and hung himself.

He left a suicide proclamation. It read:

They said it would get better. It didn’t.

Reverend Meningsbee was called by the family and asked if he would be willing to conduct a memorial service at the church building, free of godly trappings, since the Bachman family was a non-religious group of people (what the average Nebraskan would call “avowed atheists”).

The family also wanted Meningsbee to be the moderator–yes, that’s the word they used–for the event, and to give a retrospective on the life of young Alex, ending with a positive message of humanity, and everybody departing to walk to the local park to plant three trees.

At first Meningsbee wanted to decline, offering his best wishes and regards, but then, in a moment of clarity, he realized there was no other place in town they could go for such a commemoration–and that opportunity never arrives resembling anything of what we really want.

So on a Saturday afternoon, with memories of a month full of Garsonville life racing through his mind, he drives to the church, on his way to a presentation which denies the importance of everything he believes.

What should he say?

What did he feel?

Maybe he should have studied more.

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G-Poppers… April 3, 2015

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G-Popper

Returning to the house, the grandson entered the room in a fit of frightful anger, common to those who have not yet quite figured things out.

When G-Pop asked him what was wrong, he explained that he had shared with a friend at school about hopes and wishes for an Easter basket and candy, and how the fellow student criticized him and told him he needed to think about “Jesus dying for our sins.”

Since the grandson was a fan of Jesus, he felt simultaneously guilty for bringing up candy and angry that candy was being shoved to the background.

G-Pop listened carefully. He kept waiting for the little boy to pause and form a question. It never arrived. The young man did what a lot of human beings often do. He created a problem which he decided could not be solved in order to have a good reason to be upset and draw attention.

So absent a question, G-Pop provided an answer.

“Jesus had one really bad day, filled with pain and agony, when human beings forgot what it was like to let different ideas live among them without trying to destroy them. But most of the Easter story is not about a cross or blood and guts. It is about a resurrection. The resurrection does not establish the power of God. Jesus did that through his words, his life and his deeds. The resurrection is the visual confirmation by God the Father that life is meant to survive difficulty and end up joyous and victorious.

So Jesus does not want us to hang on the cross with him, or even give up things to prove that we’re thinking about a death that occurred 2,000 years ago. Easter is about having an abiding thankfulness for the sacrifice given by a brave Nazarene–and then to immediately celebrate the resurrection. In other words, find something to enjoy, appreciate and savor, to let Jesus know that dying was not in vain–that we have gained abundant life through the process.

I can’t think of anything that would please Jesus more than having a little boy excited about candy, ready to commemorate his life by opening up an Easter basket.

Should we be reminded of Jesus during Easter? Yes. But instead of dwelling on one of the worst days of his life, it might just be greater honor to focus on the thirty-three years of great accomplishment, and the one magnificent day of resurrection.

Enjoy your candy, my son. Jesus sure would if he was sitting here with us.”

The grandson was pleased.

G-Pop wondered if some people would think that more focus should be placed on the death of a Savior.

That will come with time.

Everyone has a face-to-face with the Savior of Calvary.

But once we’ve accepted the power of his gift and bravery, he expects us to move on… to joy that is full.

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Published in: on April 3, 2015 at 12:42 pm  Leave a Comment  
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If Jesus Were in Charge… January 4, 2015

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  • Religion wants to worship God.
  • Hope wants to find God.
  • Faith wants to see God.
  • Love wants to share God.

Church is becoming an exercise in futility because man was not created to worship. Worship was created so man could revel with the joy, love, faith and hope that pulsate within. It is a chance to express the hope to find God, the faith to see God and the love to share God.

But how do we do it? What would a church service be with Pastor Jesus?

If you read the Gospels closely, the answers are pretty clear, at least to this pilgrim. Every time Jesus got together with people, there was some sort of transformation, victory or healing which occurred. People felt they could come with their illnesses, insufficiencies, questions and frustrations and not have to wait through an entire service to have them addressed.

Yes, I believe church should begin with prayer, hugs, words of encouragement or even just a good cup of coffee. We begin with a season of healing–heart, soul, mind and strength.

I think if Jesus were pastor of a church, next would come testifying. Those who have been blessed, healed or rejuvenated get a chance to share their hearts. Others who have had dynamic weeks can express gratitude for intervention.

So once people have been healed and given a chance to speak out as part of the family of God, then it’s time to teach. Instruction is motivated at this point. Healing and testifying have been accomplished, so we have the opportunity to explain the mind of our heavenly Father, and offer better ways for us to get along with each other.

Healed, testified and taught, we are anxious to celebrate. Let the music begin. I don’t know why we expect people to sing their way into a good mood. Music was meant to produce emotion and praise–which normally follows an experience.

And finally, after celebration, we give. We close out the service providing finance–as each one has prospered throughout the week.

It was the style of Jesus to heal, open the door to testifying, teach the masses, celebrate the message and then allow them to give of their substance so the work could continue in the next village.

Church has become a commemoration, when it was meant to be a combustion–stoking the fire of belief so it can burn brilliantly.

If Jesus were in charge, church would be about people instead of causes, concerns, committees or even communion. Will we ever see such an opportunity come our way?

I guess when we finally grow weary of being pious and become wary of being godless.

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