Jesonian: Reverend Meningsbee (Part 4) Needful … May 22nd, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(2942)

Reverend Meningsbee

The fourth Sunday at the Garsonville Church was marked by the return of Deacon Smitters, who entered the building with very little ceremony, but much pomp over renewing his efforts as Chief Usher.

He immediately became distressed because there was no bulletin to hand out–just a chalk board in the narthex with these words scrawled upon it:

Welcome to Church

1. Our thought will come from Luke the 18th Chapter, Verse 31 through Luke the 19th Chapter, Verse 1

2. Take a moment to think about what you need

In an environment which was experiencing tremendous upheaval, the absence of a reassuring piece of paper to guide the congregants through the minefield of spirituality seemed cruel and unusual.

But everyone made their way into the sanctuary and sat in the first five pews, with Deacon Smitters making sure he was as far back on row five as humanly possible.

Promptly at service time, Reverend Meningsbee walked in and addressed the congregation.

“If we do not know why we gather in this building, we will very soon ask ourselves, why are we gathering? Makes sense, don’t you think?

You don’t have to look very long into the ministry of Jesus to realize that he never preached. He taught his disciples, but when he was in front of the masses, he only offered two possibilities: he was always ready with a healing touch or a great story.

More often than not, it began with a healing.

Even though I look out today and we have a few less than we did last week, what we should be focusing on is what the few of us here really need in our lives.

I just don’t think you need a retelling of the story of Jonah and the whale.

So let’s look at what happened over in Luke the 18th Chapter, verse 35, through Luke 19:1.

Jesus was on his way to Jericho when he was interrupted. He was stalled by a blind man who refused to shut up and observe how the service was supposed to progress. The man kept screaming for mercy.

Jesus asked him what he wanted and he flat-out demanded healing.

So Jesus did.

Then, from the excitement of that encounter, Jesus took his entourage, including the blind man, through Jericho, where he caught the attention of a non-spiritual, cheating, lying tax collector named Zacchaeus.

Do you folks really think Zacchaeus would ever have listened to Jesus if he had not heard the excitement of the crowd, celebrating the healing of the blind man?

Of course not.

It is why the people of Garsonville would much rather stay in their homes, eat waffles and watch television than come here. They don’t feel any excitement coming out of the building when we dismiss.

So from now on, in this church, we will begin our services by listening, praying and believing for those who have a specific need. So it’s the blessing of people that will set the direction for our service.

You can see, there are two chairs up here. Does anybody want to come up and begin the service by sitting down for prayer, to have their needs met, like the blind man, instead of waiting for comfort?”

Reverend Meningsbee took a long moment, pausing to allow someone to make the brave step.

Nobody did.

At length he spoke.

“That’s fine. It’s new to all of us. But understand that every Sunday we will begin this way and flip the service by having our singing at the end, as praise, before our departure.”

Suddenly a hand was raised in the congregation, and a woman, Betty Landers, sheepishly stood to her feet and said, “I don’t really have a need, but I’d like to report on what happened when I left the church last Sunday and went out to be reconciled with my cousin, who I have not spoken to in eight years.”

The pastor nodded, smiling.

Betty continued. “She only lives two miles from me, but we had a fight, and we have succeeded in avoiding each other through all family gatherings and piano recitals for the children.”

The congregation chuckled.

“Well, I went to see her, just like you said, and she wouldn’t let me into the house. It was weird. I just stood at the door and spoke, hoping she was there. I apologized. I told her how crazy it was for the two of us to be angry at each other. I even told her why I had come, based on what my minister had challenged us to do.”

Suddenly, in the midst of Betty’s story, a woman appeared in the rear of the sanctuary, and interrupted.

“I apologize for disturbing your service. I feel real silly. But what Betty is saying is true. My name is Clarice. Betty really did come to my door and talk to it like a crazy woman.”

A big roar of laughter.

Clarice continued. “I’ve spent the week with my heart pricked by her actions. I woke up this morning feeling the need to come here, find her and tell her that I am equally sorry for our silly argument.”

Betty scooted past a couple of people, ran to the back of the auditorium and embraced her cousin, as they wept.

The congregation sat very still, afraid to move. After a few moments of tears, the two women turned awkwardly to the pastor and said, “Now what do we do?”

Reverend Meningsbee said, “Go out and have lunch together. We’re done here.”

The two women left, hugging each other, and Reverend Meningsbee led the congregation in an a cappella version of “We Are One in the Spirit.”

The service was over.

The attendance was dropping.

But the spirits were soaring.

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The Story Goes On… July 14, 2014

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Daniel in the lion's denI was having trouble dealing with the stories: Jonah and the whale, Daniel in the lion’s den–even Jesus walking on the water.Three little pigs

So when I was fifteen years old, for a season I embraced agnosticism.

It was pretty easy. For after all, I never believed in religion. Church was tolerable. I had a curiosity about God.

But overall, the religious system asked me to swallow things without question, never realizing how they might affect me.

It was just too much.

Now I know there are those who would like to believe that departing from the church leads to all sorts of depravity. But I did not become a drug addict. I did not start mistreating my dog. I didn’t develop a pornography addiction.

Moses and the Red SeaActually, I rather enjoyed sleeping in on Sunday mornings, and took the extra time to audition for a play, and won the lead role.Little Red Riding Hood

I was happy.

I made new friends, since my Christian ones turned their backs on me. I joined with these acquaintances to discuss intellectual matters and expound on the problems in our society. I felt like a budding genius. It was like I was on a Mt. Olympus of knowledge, looking down on the world around me, trying to find a way I could assist the mere mortals below.

It was intoxicating.

In a strange sense of speaking, it was a religious experience. Yes, there is a religiosity to atheism. It was the comforting sense that I was self-contained. I needed nothing else.

Everything seemed really positive except for one factor. As time went on, the conversations I had with my new comrades became more bitter and nasty. After a while, we judged those who were not part of our confluence to be inferior–ignorant, if you will.

So one day it occurred to me that this new “religion” I had taken on had the same viciousness and prejudice as the one I had walked away from. There was still a plan of salvation, in the sense that you had to reject anything that might even hint toward the supernatural. There were sermons, as we disemboweled the character of those individuals who dared to disagree with us.

So finally, one night lying on my bed, I realized that the true story was not confined to the sixty-six books of the holy scripture. The story is actually compacted into the message that we are to love our neighbor as ourselves.

For even though I hated religion, had grown weary of church and felt like I could do without God, I had no idea, in my agnosticism, what to do with people. They seemed cumbersome. They were in the way.

Because as noble as it may sound to give freedom to everyone, when you have eight billion freedom-headers crashing into one another, it’s quite a headache.

My new-found lack of faith caused me to be irritated with the very creatures with whom I shared a species.

We need the story.

Maybe we don’t need all the stories that have been collected and called divine within the volume, but we do need The story:

  • Love your neighbor as yourself.
  • Give and it shall be given unto you.
  • Go the second mile.
  • You are the salt of the earth
  • Love your enemies

Without this narrative, we learn to hate religion, disdain the church, ignore God, and unfortunately, also end up disliking one another.

I went back to church.

I don’t agree with everything that happens there, and when I don’t, I question it. I rail against religion because it is a man-made infestation, formed to cripple the creativity of humankind.

I maintain a curiosity about God, though none of us know what happens a hundred and twenty seconds after we die.

But I believe in people.

I consider it to be the sign of spiritual energy–when the love we have for one another becomes the symbol of our devotion to God.

The story goes on. The story needs to be told.

Because without the story… we become discouraged in our own lack of appreciation for one another.

 

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