Take Two To Sango — November 17, 2011


One hundred and seventy-nine times this year I have stood up (or actually sat down) in front of audiences all over this country, from Houston, Texas, to Albany, New York, to King, North Carolina, to Deerwood, Minnesota, to Prosperity, South Carolina, to Dover, Delaware, to Willard, Ohio–culminating last evening at Sango United Methodist Church in Clarksville, Tennessee.

The scenario is always the same. Despite all the advertising, qualifications, recommendations and hype, people basically sit quietly and wait for me to establish enough relationship with them so they can trust what I say.I am not offended.  Actually, it shouldn’t be surprising that Americans have become gun-shy toward personal interaction, considering all the politics, scandals, religious fanaticism and just downright bizarre newscasting that happen right before their eyes each and every week.

What does it take to relate to human beings? An abandonment of ego, a focus on message and a tender understanding of the damaged soul of the American spirit.

I always begin with humor. Humor has two great powers–it lets people know that you don’t take things too seriously and also that you’re willing to poke fun at yourself. Sober-minded people are seriously erred. They fail to understand that connecting with one another is the only way to build bridges and without humor you lose one of the greatest spanners of the gap.

Humor. Don’t leave home without it.

I follow a sense of cheer with intelligence. Even if I believed–like the media does–that people are stupid, I would never treat them that way because playing to the lowest common denominator always gives you a fraction of the results you desire. I don’t try to talk over people’s heads or use big words, but I ask them to access their brain and request that it do something more than fill their cranium or pump out safe answers from their childhood culture. Intelligence is not trying to be smart. It is realizing that “smart” is happening all around us and still remains the only doorway to understanding.

And finally, my belief is that every human being I come into contact with is in need of a great, big dose of mercy. There is a common belief among the leadership in this country that the populace is either ignorant or lazy, but when people are bruised it can sometimes resemble those symptoms. I want people to know three things: First, that I love them. Second, that Jesus wants to make them look good. And third, that everything we want to accomplish will probably require that we change something. Mercy is what human beings bring when they believe in God enough to actually act it out in the lives of others.

So that’s what I tried to do at Sango last night. Such a delightful group of people, although they were not identical to any gathering I had ever been in! Similarities exist, but differences persist. Someone has to evolve. I don’t mind being the first one.

So humor, intelligence and mercy are the keys to the one hundred and seventy-nine times I have been blessed to impart my little dab of talent to folks across the country this year.

H (humor) I (intelligence) and M (mercy), which stands for Him–is the best way, I believe,  to convey to others how generous and loving our God truly is. Because if God isn’t humorous, intelligent and merciful–well, pardon the redundancy … God help us all.

Of course, it may actually end up being about sharing humor, enlightenment (which is like intelligence) and respect (close to mercy).  That would be HER. You know … in case the King of Heaven is really the Queen.  Just covering all my bases.


Here comes Christmas! For your listening pleasure, below is Manger Medley, Jonathan’s arrangement of Away in the Manger, which closes with him singing his gorgeous song, Messiah.  Looking forward to the holidays with you!


Jonathan sings “Let”


Jonathan Sings “Spent This Time”


Jonathan and his partner, Janet Clazzy, play “The Call”

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