Jesonian: Reverend Meningsbee (Part 5) Late … May 29th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Reverend Meningsbee

Sunday morning, and Meningsbee woke up late.

He wanted to blame his alarm clock, but since he was fully aware that he was the master of all of its decisions, he scurried along, skipping two of his pre-shower rituals.

He scooted into his car, started it and zoomed toward the church at what he hoped was a reasonable speed. He was thinking about what he wanted to share.

The Gospel of Mark. Most certainly.

It had been an interesting week.

After the breakthrough, with Betty and Clarice being reconciled, there was a sweet buzz of contentment among those who were present, but simultaneously, there were around twenty-five former members who had begun meeting in the banquet hall of the nearby Holiday Inn Express. They were stirring a flurry of frustration through the town.

Their contention? Meningsbee had “stolen their church.”

He understood their perspective. Yet there was a push in his spirit to continue the experiment–to find the real meaning of gathering together instead of marching in time to the drone of repetitive hymns.

Arriving, he ran to the door of the church, and then paused. He could hear the sounds of conversation. It was not the usual pre-church verbal exchanges, but instead, purposeful–what sounded like meaningful, prayerful tones.

So Meningsbee chose to enter quietly and climb the stairs to the balcony, where he could view the proceedings.

He had noticed coming in that there were a few more cars in the parking lot, and was delighted to see, when he looked down from his perch, that there were four visitors and a few of the original congregation who had returned.

But most enlightening was the fact that the three chairs he had placed in the front on Saturday night were filled with people, surrounded by other folks who were sharing and praying for one another.

On the seventh row was a young family who Deacon Smitters had befriended, and was quietly but feverishly entertaining with one of his stories.

It was a reverent scene, in the sense of the true meaning of reverence–full of humanity, compassion, tenderness and just a bit of the childlike freedom that was so often absent from the normal Sunday morning drill.

Reverend Meningsbee wanted to just hang out in the balcony and watch. He knew that as soon as he entered, the holy spell would be broken and they would turn to him to find order.

Finally he decided that it was not good for him to stay away for the whole time. He climbed down the stairs and came into the church as the gathering fell silent.

He turned slowly and addressed them.

“I overslept. But I have been here for fifteen minutes, just watching all of you. It is so beautiful for you to treat each other so beautifully. I know that’s not a good sentence, but it’s what I feel. Thank you. Thank you for being here. Thank you for loving each other.”

All at once, a hand went up. It was Clarice, from last week’s reconciliation.

“Hello, Pastor. I just wanted to let you know that after Betty and I mended our fences, I got inspired to contact my son in Lincoln, who ran away from home a couple of years ago because he was mad at me for being such a–can I say ‘bitch’ in the church?”

Meningsbee laughed. “You just did.”

Clarice continued. “Anyway, I invited Michael home, we made peace, and I told him to come here with me today to seal the deal.”

The congregation burst into applause without being coaxed. It was spontaneous and it was electrifying.

One after another, there were testimonies about those who came and sat in the chair to receive God’s grace through the kindness of God’s people.

The good Reverend just stood back and shut up. There was a small part of him that felt useless, but most of him felt he had discovered his true use.

Lead the sheep to the green pastures, and then let them eat.

It came time for the end of the service, and Meningsbee wasn’t sure what to do.

Betty stood to her feet and said, “Did you know that Clarice’s son, Michael, plays a mean piano and can really sing?”

Michael feigned a bit of embarrassment, but also exuded a willingness to display his talent. So Meningsbee pointed to the piano, and Michael slowly rose to his feet, walked over, sat down and played and sang “Let It Be” by the Beatles.

It was an inspiring conclusion to the morning.

Meningsbee listened to the song very carefully.

“Let It Be.”

What good advice.

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Jesonian: The Look of Love… July 26th, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Young Robert Downey Jr.

Having just finished rebuking his disciples for trying to chase away the little children, Jesus takes the tots in his arms, lays his hands on them and blesses them.

But more importantly, he tells us that they are the true definition of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Yes, I can always tell when people are truly unspiritual, craggy and have a dying spirit. They’re critical of young humans.

God loves young people.

Matter of fact, in this particular passage of about 20 verses in the Gospel of Mark, we see that Jesus makes this forever clear–because not only does he express great warmth and tenderness to the little children, but immediately afterwards, when a young man arrives, asking questions about how to obtain eternal life, he channels that same affection toward this adolescent.

We refer this chap as “the rich young ruler.”

He is respectful. He is complimentary. But he is dissatisfied.

The things he has been taught have not brought him peace of mind nor a sense of purpose.

The scripture tells us that Jesus looks on him and loves him.

The average churchgoer would think that this is not unusual. Doesn’t Jesus love everybody?

But Jesus didn’t constantly manifest “the look of love.” He was often pissed with hypocrisy, angry with indifference, rebuking self-righteousness, and looking around the room befuddled because people were so unwilling to see other folks healed just because “it wasn’t the right time.”

Matter of fact, this is one of the few times that the Bible tells us that Jesus gave someone “the look of love.”

What did he love about this young man?

  1. The kid was still searching.
  2. The dude was looking for something good instead of something bad.
  3. The young man had faithfully followed what he had been taught to be true.
  4. But he had the sense to search for more.

What a great combo.

But Jesus gave him a gift. He offered a simple principle:

Learning stuff is not enough.

Investing your heart is where to start.

He told the young man that he should take his money and get rid of it–give it away to the poor, and make a new beginning.

For after all, even following our theological interpretation of him being a “rich young ruler,” if he forfeited his riches for a season, he was still young and he was still a ruler. He had plenty of time to make his money back again, and because he ruled over people, he could acquire their taxes and ingenuity. He could learn once again how to do it from scratch, and therefore rediscover his abilities and passion.

He didn’t want to do it. He walked away sadly.

It’s a great story, and it links up beautifully with Jesus blessing the children.

The young humans that surround us are the hope of finding the better parts of our message and applying them emotionally–not just spiritually.

Jesus looked on him and he loved him. He realized there was still a chance.

All the young fellow needed to do was accept that religious stuff was not enough–our heart is where it must start. 

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Jesonian: Making a Mark … March 30, 2014

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Sometimes it’s best to go back to the beginning if you’ve arrived at a conclusion which doesn’t seem to be in line with the facts provided.

The Christian religious system which is presently revered by the remaining faithful has stayed rigorous to a plan of salvation, but somewhere along the line has misplaced the heart of Jesus–to create followers who are the “salt of the earth, the light of the world” and an obvious “city on a hill for all to see.”

So if you’ll allow me, I’d like to go back to what is considered to be the first gospel written about Jesus’ life, and not do some elaborate teaching trick, but instead, just outline the elements of the first chapter as it beautifully lays out the purpose for the ideas and goals of the Master.

It is the Gospel of Mark (even though modern theologians have robbed John Mark of the authorship. You’ve gotta keep an eye on those religionists.)

And you don’t have to go any further than the first chapter to understand what the writer believes the journey with Jesus should be all about:

1. The gospel invites spirit into human life.

2. The gospel brings repentance.

3. The gospel is sensitive to humans, fishing for them.

4. The gospel is astonishing.

5. The gospel scares away evil.

6. The gospel causes a stir.

7. The gospel finds time to be alone.

8. The gospel travels well.

9. The gospel cleanses.

10. The gospel draws people.

If we are going to have a Jesonian movement of spirituality in this country, where we honor the life, times and mission of Jesus, we might want to take a good, long look at that list and ask ourselves if we are welcoming such a message into our midst, or merely celebrating an idea of salvation.

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Click here to get info on the "Gospel According to Common Sense" Tour

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It May Not be Heaven, but … February 3, 2012

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Waking up in the morning is a daily reenactment of resurrection, minus the needful suffocation.  Blink, blink, achy, achy, please let me roll over–can’t do it, sit up, feet on the floor … life commences. Again.
 
It may not be heaven, but it sure is heavenly.
 
Twenty ounces of water. It is astounding what this liquid treasure can do for our bodies–for truthfully, we don’t arise in the morning hungry, but rather, thirsty. We are nearly depleted of all fluids, or at least down a quart or two, and just pouring that refreshment into our vessel does more to wake us up than any television show or music on the radio ever could.
 
It may not be heaven, but it sure goes down heavenly.
 
Hot water pelting my skin, trying to stimulate me to grab the bar of soap and join in the party, sudsing myself while water pours from the wall, cleansing every nook and cranny.
 
It may not be heaven, but it sure showers heavenly.
 
Food–what a glorious notion. Some days it’s a bowl of cereal with bananas and strawberries; every once in a while, an egg white omelet. I also eat these bran crisp crackers with fat-free cream cheese and sugar-free jelly, which literally tickle my innards and provide a moving experience. Add yourself a half of a grapefruit and…
 
It may not be heaven, but it sure tastes heavenly.
 
An incomprehensible blessing–being able to sit down every morning and write an essay read by thousands of people, and also personal emails sent to friends and family, which you hope will at least be adequately perused. Pithy is not nearly as important as real.
 
It may not be heaven, but it sure feels heavenly.
 
Getting up on my feet, limping a bit through the creaks of sixty years on well-traveled hooves, I head out the door to run errands. Isn’t it magnificent that as long as you have a dab of money in your pocket and a notion of what you want, and neither of those exceed or underestimate one another, you can purchase things that make your day a little bit better? And of course–don’t forget to mail that letter.
 
It may not be heaven, but it sure runs heavenly.
 
Time to get an oil change in that big, black van. In the process I meet two young, giggling gents who are excited about the upcoming big game on Sunday. They have their favorites, so I tease them by pretending that their choices are crazed or foolish. We laugh. It’s over very quickly … and to punctuate the enjoyment, I give my new buddies a little extra money to bless themselves. They are so appreciative that the blessing returns to me.
 
It may not be heaven, but it sure embraces heavenly.
 
I make a stop in the park to read the Gospel of Mark, never actually knowing that it would rhyme. I’m reading it to afford myself fresh eyes to capture the emotion, passion and message of this first gospel to see what young John Mark was trying to tell us about his friend. Sweet journey.
 
It may not be heaven, but it sure reads heavenly.
 
With all the mystery of  a fairy tale and the magic of a Nazarene miracle, suddenly appearing at the window of my van is a passerby who tells me of his plight–a flat tire with no funds. He pleads for finance, informing me that he’s already been rejected by four people, one apparently doing so by referring to him as a “nigger.” He says that everybody seems scared of him. Fresh from my bathing in the waters of Mark, I look him in the eye and say, “I’m not scared.” It was fascinating. My lack of fear seemed to frighten him a bit. I did not attempt to determine the veracity of his story–I did not care. Giving is not about the integrity of the receiver, but rather, the heart of the provider. I submitted the funds for his need and he began to make promises to me on how he would repay. I stopped him. “Don’t,” I said. “Just find a way to give to someone else.”  He shook my hand and disappeared.
 
It may not be heaven, but it sure is “angels unaware” heavenly.
 
A stop off at the Sonic Drive-In to get a corn dog and onion rings before returning to my traveling companion for luncheon. Wow.
 
It may not be heaven, but it sure drives in heavenly.
 
I watched an episode about the Ponderosa as I munched on my onion rings. For a moment I was a little boy sitting in front of our Zenith black and white set, six inches away from the screen, constantly being hounded by my mother for my proximity to the potentially dangerous box. Hoss, Little Joe, Pa and Adam … still work.
 
It may not be heaven, but it sure is a “Bonanza” of the heavenly.
 
I steal myself a nap, even though it’s completely my choice, and I arise to do some exercise, which I pretend is of my own volition. I eat some chicken with vegetables and half a sweet potato as I settle into the evening, allowing the satisfaction of the day to produce giddiness, which eventually, amazingly, lends itself to sleepiness. The day is over.
 
It may not be heaven, but it sure has become heavenly.
 
I have studied things of God and life for my entire journey. Having done so, I am no more assured of eternity than I was the first day someone mentioned the word “heaven.” But my years of travel have taught me one important lesson–if there is a heaven, then there’s no reason to wait for it, when we’re completely capable of duplicating some of its beauty right here on earth. And if there isn’t a heaven, then we desperately need one, so we should make certain that every step on our journey has a supernal quality.
 
For verily I say unto you: religion is waiting for God.
 
Heaven is enjoying Him now.
 
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Jonathan wrote the gospel/blues anthem, Spent This Time, in 1985, in Guaymas, Mexico. Take a listen:

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