Jesonian: Reverend Meningsbee (Part 8) Fruity Labors … June 19th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Reverend Meningsbee

Meningsbee sat in his car panting, with sweat dribbling down his face.

What just happened?

His mind raced to retrieve some sanity.

He had gone to the grocery store to pick up some fruit, and was standing in the produce section, trying to decide between blueberries or blackberries, when he was tapped on the shoulder. He turned around to discover that he was surrounded by three irate women in their seventies.

There was no escape.

Woman One piped up. “What gives you the right to come to our town, break apart families and remove our sense of community?”

Without affording Meningsbee a chance to respond, Woman Two inserted her piece. “What was so wrong with our little Garsonville church? I think we were a loving sort until you showed up.”

Likewise, Woman Three intoned her complaint. “We dedicated that organ in the church to my grandmother, and now I’m not even able to go.”

Meningsbee tried to figure out a way to respond without becoming defensive, but the women continued to bombard him with their frustrations, refusing to allow him to leave. It caused such a commotion that the store manager called the local police, who uncharacteristically arrived within three minutes.

The constable felt it was his job to get to the bottom of the story, so he listened patiently as the women outlined their grievances.

When Meningsbee was asked to describe his take on the situation, he chose to remain silent, realizing that he was not only outnumbered, but also that his rendition might seem anemic compared to their enraged profile.

Unfortunately, a local reporter for the newspaper was in the store at the time, and she felt it was her responsibility to interview the participants, with Meningsbee politely declining.

He just quickly grabbed some fruit, went through the checkout and exited the store. Now he sat alone, bruised and a bit infuriated at being ambushed.

Yet the situation did not go away.

Two days later when the newspaper came out, there was an article about the incident and a background about the ongoing struggle between the Garsonville Church and the new Garsonville Christian Church, meeting at the Holiday Inn Express.

The closing line of the piece was provided by one of the women, who shared, “If the people who are still at the Garsonville Church really love us and respect us as neighbors, they will at least come out to our new gathering and give it a chance.”

Even as Reverend Meningsbee was in the midst of reading the article, the phone rang. It was the first of thirty-five or forty calls he received from parishioners, saying that they were torn and conflicted, and felt it would maybe be good for them to show their respect by going to the Garsonville Christian Church this week.

Meningsbee didn’t know what to say. Honestly, he wanted to cry. He never intended to split up families nor bring conflict–just share Jesus.

Upon arriving at the church on Sunday morning, Meningsbee discovered there were only twelve in attendance–and eight of them were the visitors who had come over the past several weeks.

Because he didn’t want to deal with unresolved hurt, he shared his heart with those who were present, and explained what he believed to be his mission and desire.

He dismissed the service and headed for his car. All the other attendees left the parking lot and he sat alone. He couldn’t help but feel cheated–and maybe even, in a strange sense, jealous.

After all, his congregation was somewhere else, listening to someone else–being torn between their new discovery of faith and their loyalty to tradition.

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Good News and Better News … February 15th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Good News and Better News Windsor UMC

A carefully constructed bulletin.

Beautiful building.

Decorated altar.

Gorgeous organ.

First-class sound equipment for the praise band.

Prepared minister.

Eager ushers.

Hymns meticulously selected.

Fresh doughnuts.

Delicious coffee.

Ample parking.

Batteries in the wireless mics.

Sunday school lessons.

Nursery workers.

Handicap accessible.

Bathrooms stocked with paper products.

Children’s church.

Carpets swept.

Library open.

Prayers uttered.

Choir rehearsed.

ALL IS PREPARED.

Whosoever will may come.

But they don’t.

Never has there been so much tender-loving care put into the prospect of receiving an audience which refuses to arrive.

It was a bitter-cold Sunday morning in Columbia, South Carolina when I found my way to Windsor.

Absolutely delightful, engaging, intelligent, fresh human beings.

Just not very many of them.

And I guess it would be fine if there wasn’t a general understanding among those attending that something is missing–or rather, a bunch of “someones” absent.

Some of those who fail to attend are former advocates who have left, either through disagreement or just “growing weary in well-doing.”

But many are human beings who have been taunted into believing that there are no real answers within the stained glass windows.

The church has become the standing joke for those who want to poke fun at a group of people they truly do not understand. So there’s a tendency for those who are still warming the pew to turn cold and lose faith.

The good news is that we have the facility to receive our fellow-travelers.

The better news is that while we’re waiting for them to make up their minds, we should work on our own lives, our own joy, our own understanding and our own tolerance.

Jesus was interested in a following that had lips with heart. In other words, what is spoken comes from a place of passion. The beauty of passion is that even if you’re wrong, because you have not hidden your feelings, they can be corrected. And if you’re right, the energy can bring life to those around you.

When you remove heart from lips, you get words that sound dry, dusty and old. But when you add the personal joy and testimony of reality, then the lips can speak the desires of the heart and bring revival.

So to all the good friends I met at Windsor, let me remind you:

While we are waiting for the world to get tired of crazy, let us look to ourselves and overcome our lazy.

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Symphony 150 … March 15, 2012

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The Book of Psalms.

It is a collection of songs and poems depicting the victories and struggles of human life, punctuated by the pursuit of God. Its closing stanzas are reserved for an explanation—no, more than that—an orchestration of what truly is praise and worship. Yes, it is a symphony in four movements, carefully constructed, sensitive to the needs of mankind and seductive to the ear of the Divine.

It begins with the trumpet—a fanfare. I envision four measures of our brass in unison—a clarion. “Wake up! Life is good! Notice the beauty of God and join the chorus.”

In the fifth measure, a second part is added, introducing diversity but still maintaining the integrity of tone. In the ninth through the sixteenth measures, the trumpets blare a quartet of harmonies, announcing the beginnings of well-deserved appreciation.

 And then suddenly, the brass are replaced by the lute and harp, establishing our melody—a recurring theme of sweetness and gentleness that accentuates our deep sense of awe and wonder over creation. It is genuine, pure and simple. “Be still. Know. Relax. It is time to exude the unity of your internal orchestra—heart, soul and mind—and let it come forth in the jubilation of your strength.”

An ascending arpeggio and our first movement ends—with the awareness that all is well.

It is quickly followed by the second movement, which explodes with rhythm—tambourines, hand-held noise makers, stimulating the dance—like a Chopin Polonaise—the affirmation that human life not only is functional, but also fruitful, because there is no reason to believe that God would do anything to stop us from achieving our best. It is time to rise, to move to the music. “Produce a visual for your joy. Reject stagnation. Pound the tambourines. Dance.”

Then, at the peak of this exaltation, the strings are introduced, blended with the organ. We hear the first fruits of our original theme from the lute and harp, now played with greater intensity and flow from our orchestra. It is time to take the jubilance of our dance and find the tunefulness of our heart’s desire and express it freely, without fear. The strings and organ give us the freedom to be unashamed of our humanity—to be willing to let all of our parts connect in a joyous repentance, absent of sadness, but filled with the expectation that God is forgiving, God is light and God is love.

Our second movement ends with this reassurance.

Fully absolved of our insecurities, frustrations and sins, the third movement begins with loud cymbals. It is a chorus, flirting with cacophony but still maintaining a control over intensity. It is a time to confirm that we are salvaged. “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so! Trumpet the conviction true spirituality is not escaping human life, but rather, finally confirming its dynamic. Don’t be afraid.”

Our loud cymbals are joined by high-sounding cymbals, producing a fevered pitch. Our worship has now entered into a thrilling lack of intimidation. We are in awe of God, which gives us permission to honor of ourselves. We are surrounded by sound without complaining about the volume. We are lost in the moment without shame.

This ends movement three.

Suddenly … stillness—a two measure rest. Recreation—and then we begin movement four, the finale, where everything that has breath joins the orchestra to bring praise to the Lord. The brass, the woodwinds and even a chorus of voices blend, revisiting that original melody by the lute and the harp, exploring it as an anthem—a victorious march to triumph. Breath unites with breath, building in volume, the pace picking up to a glorious climax, a place where the sopranos can find their highest note. The tenors join just beneath as the altos gloriously bellow their second and the basses resound the bottom.

The ending is held, vibrating the sound waves through the room with such an intensity that chills run down the body, when all at once the conductor stops the orchestra. Another two measure rest, when …

The entire ensemble culminates in a lower inversion C chord. Peace, be still.

Thus ends our fourth movement—and our symphony.

It is how the Psalmist describes what true praise and worship of life and God should be—not merely the droning of well-rehearsed, “special music,” but a fresh, burgeoning composition extolling the great potential of being alive.

Symphony 150, in four movements—always available, always beautiful—always penetrating the heart of God.

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Sitting One

 I died today. 

I didn’t expect it to happen.  Then again, I did—well, not really.

No, I certainly didn’t expect it.

I’ve had moments of clarity in my life.  Amazingly enough, many of them were in the midst of a dream. For a brief second I would know the meaning of life or the missing treatment to cure cancer.  And then as quickly as it popped into my mind it was gone. I really don’t recollect dying.  Just this unbelievable sense of clear headedness—like walking into a room newly painted and knowing by the odor and brightness that the color on the wall is so splattering new that you should be careful not to touch it for fear of smearing the design. The greatest revelation of all? 

Twenty-five miles in the sky time ceases to exist.

The planet Pluto takes two hundred and forty-eight years to circle the sun. It doesn’t give a damn. 

The day of my death was the day I became free of the only burden I really ever had.  TIME.

Useless.

Time is fussy.  Time is worry. 

Time is fear.  Time is the culprit causing human-types to recoil from pending generosity. 

There just was never enough time. 

Time would not allow it.  Remember—“if time permits …”

Why if time permits?  Why not if I permit?  Why not if I dream?  Why not if I want?  Why does time get to dictate to me my passage? 

It was time that robbed me of my soulful nature.    It was time that convinced me that my selfishness was needed. 

I didn’t die. The clock in me died, leaving spirit to tick on.  

So why don’t we see the farce of time?  Why do we allow ourselves to fall under the power of the cruel despot?  Yes, time is a relentless master—very little wage for much demand.

I died today. 

Actually … a piece of time named after me was cast away.

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