Jesonian … June 23rd, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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“He turned the water into wine.”

Let’s just stop and think about that. Jesus had a cousin named John, who took a Nazarite vow. No liquor.

A very popular religious cult of the time, the Essenes, also were teetotalers.

Even though many historians will note that wine was a common drink of the masses, it was often considered forbidden–actually uncommon among those who deemed themselves religious–especially if you were just starting a movement.

What were you trying to communicate? After all, water is the symbol of life–to such an extent that we often refer to “the water of God’s word.”

Why would Jesus care that a young married couple ran out of wine during their reception? What was that to him?

To me, the message is clear. Water is what you drink when you’re thirsty. Wine is what you select when you want to get buzzed.

A transition was in order. A New Testament was about to be unleashed on the world. What better symbolism than to make it clear that water–in other words, our lives–was meant to be wine, thus intoxicating?

No longer were we to merely survive, but celebrate.

It wasn’t an issue of sustaining our beings, but rather, imbibe by getting drunk on the Spirit.

You don’t have to go any further than the commands he gave to the servants, who were to set the miracle in motion.

1. “Fill it to the brim.”

Six water pots in all, holding at least fifteen gallons each. So we’re talking about ninety gallons of wine. This was not a gift to “finish up the party.” Rather, it was an inclination to keep the party going.

2. “Pour it out.”

Get it into people’s cups. Don’t display it. Don’t revere it. Don’t call it “holy wine.” This is drinking vino. This wine is for the purpose of people “rejoicing and being exceedingly glad.” No longer are our lives supposed to be watered down, but instead, juiced up.

3. “Make it the best.”

Jesus told the servants to take the wine to the governor of the feast, who sardonically panned, “Usually at these weddings they bring out the crappy wine at the end. But you’ve saved the best for last.”

What is crappy wine? It’s wine that is either freshly-squeezed grape juice, or so old that it’s almost turned to vinegar.

There’s a message here–we need to stop acting like we’re grape juice–pure and without sin–or that we’re turning into vinegar in our pews because we’re so soured by our life and our experiences.

Taste good.

Inebriate.

It was the message of Cana of Galilee.

You don’t start a revolution by walking away from a wedding feast, refusing to make wine over spiritual pettiness.

You create an international revival by being the one who has the sense, at the right moment, to put the “juice on the loose.”

 

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PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant … February 7th, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Call My Child

Clever saying

Dry tongue praying

Children wait

Impatiently

Reject the goat

Get the vote

Feeling the need

Empty box

See the prize

Behind the lies

Laugh at jokes

Stale saltines

Hurt so much

When we touch

See me run

To simpler paths

Finding the true

Out of the blue

Requiring magic

Run the limp

If he’s the way

Where’s the truth

In a lifeless room

Filled with doubt

Call my child

From the wild

Bring my spoon

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Cracked 5 … November 28th, 2017


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Reasons that Leftover Turkey Often Tastes Better

A. Stewing in its own juices, it found some answers.

 

B. Not needing to compete against the arrogant Honey Baked Ham.

 

C. Spent some time in the “cooler”–got born again.

 

D. People are hungry again by Saturday.

 

E. Rejected at the original feast, it gained character.

 

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Jesonian: Reverend Meningsbee (Part 2) Front and Center… May 8th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Reverend Meningsbee

There was a great glut of human traffic which came to an abrupt halt in the vestibule of the Garsonville Church, as each stalled congregant stared down at their church bulletin, which was only a half-sheet of paper, and mused over the meaning.

It read:

Welcome to Jesus Church!

1. Enter! Take a seat in one of the first five rows on either side

2. Greet One Another

3. A Hymn (Congregation’s choice)

4. Thought Luke 14: 16-24

5. An Effectual Fervent Prayer

As you leave, please drop your offering into the red, heart-shaped box at the back door

That was it.

Through mutterings, groans, misgivings and sighs, the congregation made its way into the church, reluctantly sitting in the first five rows as requested. (Well, three families departed in a huff, and Deacon Smitters perched himself in his accustomed assigned seating near the back door.)

Promptly at eleven, Reverend Meningsbee arrived, shaking some hands and beginning the service. After singing “Wings of a Dove,” as requested by a nine-year-old who was more curious about the title than familiar with the tune, the Reverend spoke.

“Thank you, one and all, for taking a seat front and center. You may wonder why I made this request. In Luke the 14th Chapter, verses 16-24, Jesus tells the story about a man who planned a feast. Of course, we know he’s talking about God. So God has invited people to His feast. They immediately begin to make excuses. They’re too busy, they’re financially engaged, they have responsibilities… Anyway, they turn Him down.

At this point, God says something very interesting. He tells His servants to go out and invite as many people as possible–good or bad–so His house will be full.

Do you realize that every Sunday morning we insult the Heavenly Father by scattering all over this building in little pockets of family, social cliques and pews of tradition, flaunting the obvious emptiness of our sanctuary, never realizing that God wants His house to be full?

We don’t take back seats anywhere else. We don’t go to a concert of our favorite musical artist and sit in the nosebleed section. We don’t go to a restaurant and look for the worst table in the establishment.

But we come to church and think it’s our right and privilege to avoid contact with the altar of repentance, and stay closer to the back door of evacuation.

Not anymore.

If God wants His house full–and He does–since we don’t have enough people to fill it up, we’re going to begin to fill this church from the front to the back. That will give us a sense of being full because we’re all sitting close together, facing the front, unaware of the vacant seats behind us.

This is our first step.

This is our attempt to make this a Jesus Church instead of a church that’s suited to our picky, personal preferences.

So I thank you for being involved in this beautiful experiment. I thank you for your cooperation…”

All at once the pastor was interrupted by a middle-aged man on the third row.

“You do realize, three families left this morning, and there may be more who won’t come back next week?”

The pastor paused, and then spoke in a gentle, metered tone.

“I do. I also understand that the way we’re doing church is driving more people away than bringing them in. I believe those three families will return when they see that what’s happening here is meeting the needs of human beings.”

The questioner shook his head and sat down in disgust.

Meningsbee said a prayer and started to walk away, then stopped in his tracks, turned and spoke to the back of the room.

“Deacon Smitters, we will look forward to you joining us front and center next week. Good day to all of you and God bless.”

The Garsonville Church sat quietly for a moment, as if trying to wake up from a really bad dream.

Undoubtedly the week ahead was going to be filled with vigorous discussion and angry dissension.

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PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant … November 11th, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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PoHymn Nov 11

A Picture of Time

The first shall be the last

The slow will run fast

What we think must surely change

All our plans will rearrange

The price will exceed our wealth

We will struggle for better health

What we believe will soon evolve

As the world continues to resolve

Our family grows to travel away

While dreams threaten to go astray

For we must learn to prepare our feast

Set the table for those deemed least

And conquer the fear that swallows our love

Soar like eagles but live like the dove

Learning the power of speaking what’s true

Keeping some old but embracing the new

No, life is not a bowl of cherries

Settled by destiny or holy fairies

It is at best a time to learn

To spy the corner and make the turn

Uncertain of what may lie ahead

Resurrecting breath and burying the dead

For soon we all will cease to be

A picture, a thought, a memory

So stand for something, as dear souls should

And pray to God that it is good. 

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Untotaled: Stepping 17–(November 25th, 1965) Too Late to Understand … June 7, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

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(Transcript)

Angry. Sweet.

Gentle. Mean.

Vindictive. Giving.

These words seem to be opposites of one another but they were all part of the personality of my mother.

All through my childhood, I had endured a see-saw of emotion which was not only painful, but unpredictable.

November 25th was Thanksgiving Day. I was excited. I walked into the kitchen rubbing my hands together with enthusiasm and asked my mother “when the feast was going to be ready.”

She turned to me with a bit of fire and spit and said, “Why don’t you cook it? It’s hard work.”

It was cold, ferocious and beyond my understanding. I just went to my room, cussing her name.

For after all, this was a woman I had seen empty her cupboards of canned goods to help a neighbor in need and then, the next day, turn around and curse that same neighbor for dereliction and laziness. She would often come into my room and give me a hug, only to scream at me an hour later for watching cartoons–“being in her way” during vacuuming.

In my youth I heard her speak of brotherhood while referring to some individuals as “worthless niggers.”

If I’d had a lick of sense–which I didn’t–I would have realized that a human being who is angry, sweet, gentle, mean, vindictive and giving–well, when you combine them, what you end up with is confused.

In my later years, I understood.

She was seventeen years old when she married a man who was eighteen years her senior. she never got to travel, she didn’t get to go to college, was unable to flirt with either disaster or blessing and birthed five children, which from time to time seemed more of an inconvenience than a heritage.

She lived in confined quarters with limited funds, with a very stoic husband who often went on trips to Canada without providing a definite return date.

I wish I could sit down with her and tell her that I’m sorry I did not understand her plight. In today’s world, she probably would be diagnosed with some sort of neurotic condition which would be tempered by medication. Such remedies were unheard of in her day and age.

The greatest reprieve to my soul is that on the day she passed from this world, I was the last one to see her in the nursing home. We had a wonderful trip to the mall and on the way back, together sang her favorite hymn, The Old Rugged Cross.

She taught me a lot without realizing that she was instructing.

It was neither the fits of anger nor her acts of generosity that remain with me, but rather, a desire to be universally merciful to people when I don’t know their whole story.

So nowadays I would only ask three questions of anyone I encounter:

  1.  Can you admit you’re not happy?
  2. Are you willing to be happy?
  3. Will you stay with it until happiness arrives?

That’s all my mother needed–someone to give a damn.

It’s hard for me to remember her as a mom or a mother, and I certainly don’t want to look on her as a monster.

She was a woman named Mary who was given limited possibilities … and did the best she could.

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The Real War on Christmas… December 22, 2012

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The early followers of Jesus of Nazareth were isolated and persecuted. They had no homeland–no sympathetic government. They were considered to be a fleeting, temporary cult. Therefore, they had no holidays. All the holidays available around them were salutes to gods, goddesses and emperors who were NOT born in a manger in Bethlehem.

These Christ instigators developed the philosophy of redeeming the time. Instead of complaining about their low status on the totem pole, they took the existing celebrations and used them to worship, appreciate and commemorate moments and traditions in their own faith. In so doing, because of things like governments toppling, religions crumbling and just the passage of time changing circumstances, these rag-tag believers ended up inheriting almost all of the holidays.

So Christmas, which for most of its existence, was more or less a feast (which did, at times, lend itself to a bit of debauchery) has become, over the last 150 years, more sacred, more worshipful and more reverent than it ever was in its inception, when it was an explosion of carnal pleasure saluting Mithra.

So all of this fuss–this so-called “war on Christmas” because some geeky atheist in upstate New York wants to file a lawsuit because of a nativity scene in the town square–is utter hogwash. If you’re looking for the real war on Christmas, that conflict is being waged by the very religious system which should be supporting the celebration of the birth of Christ.

First of all, let me make one thing clear. I do believe in the church. The church was Jesus’ dream of a world connected by a great idea through a Golden Rule, and that we could transform the fallen state of affairs gradually through the Spirit to more resemble the Garden of Eden of our origins.

But the church has been overtaken by a religious system which was founded in the style of the Roman Empire and therefore is more interested in relics, traditions and the maintenance of coffers than in the idealistic pursuit of spiritual fulfillment. Let it never be said that I am anti-church–but I am against a religious system that would love to take the joy of Christmas over the birth of the Prince of Peace and focus on turning it into either a “Blue Christmas” or a “Bloody Christmas.”

Let us start with this pseudo intellectual–and recent, I may add–journey which has been taken by religious leaders, to provide comfort and sympathy to those who either don’t like Christmas or are finding themselves experiencing their first December 25th without a loved one, a job or family. We cannot take the joy, meaning and importance of this experience called Nativity and spend one minute trying to dilute it so as not to offend a handful of people who need to understand that sometimes we celebrate on behalf of others instead of licking our own wounds.

I do it every time I go to a shopping mall. Because I have bad knees I am in a wheelchair, but I don’t roll in amongst my walking brethren, bitching and complaining about their presumptuous trodding about. I celebrate them. I worship God that I am still able to be among the living and participate. The more briskly they walk, the more I appreciate the gift they’ve been given and my opportunity to still be a part of the human tribe. You do not overcome depression during Christmas by bypassing the unique opportunity to be surrounded by “good tidings of great joy.”

The second war on Christmas comes from the religious system which is in a desperate hurry to break apart the manger cradle and quickly turn it into a cross. Many of them will not even give us one moment to appreciate that God’s original idea was for the world to receive His son, not to crucify him. The heavens would have rejoiced if mankind had accepted the message from the Sermon on the Mount instead of marching the sermon-teller up a mount and killing him. So they turned Christmas into a bloody holiday. They want the baby to become the lamb of God instead of the sweet promise of God’s love for mankind.

For after all, Christmas was God-ordained. It is Easter that is man-made. It is manking which decided to reject His hope and put nails in the hands that came to heal them.

Yes, the true war on Christmas happens in the pews, as we remove part of the great happiness of the season, supposedly in deference to those who are choosing or experiencing blueness. It also is diminished by religionists who can’t wait to get Jesus to a cross.

I love Christmas. It is a reminder to me that if I accept the birth of true mission, then I don’t ever have to die in the hands of my own stupidity.

Be smart. Atheists will never destroy God, because privately, they want God. Otherwise they wouldn’t spend so much time fussing about it.

Christmas will not be taken apart–because everyone needs it. But we should be careful that we are not pushing the baby away from the “inn crowd” and leaving him out in the cold. There’s nothing to be blue about–even if it’s a sad time for you. Celebrate the joy of others. It’ll do wonders for your soul.

And let’s not crucify Jesus so soon. Let’s at least give him three months to make things better.

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