Jesonian … October 9th, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3820)

A great resurrection always destroys a good funeral.

That’s just the nature of things.

Miracles interrupt. They evolve us and they change the world around us.

So since we are such stoic, immovable creatures, it is amazing how often we will carelessly pray for a miracle.

MIRACLES DISRUPT

Yes, miracles surprise us.

There are four times in the ministry of Jesus that he raised people from the dead.

Now, it sounds like a fabulous experience, but when put into the environment of the doldrums of everyday living, the people who were present for these events were more annoyed than “enjoyed.”

He came upon a situation with a twelve-year-old girl who had passed away. He was a little late getting there, so he told the room that she was not really dead, she was “just sleeping.”

This pissed them off.

They felt that he was insulting their ability to discern when someone was living or dead. They so abusively ridiculed him that he had to kick them out of the house so the little girl could live again.

As they stood outside, not allowed to be part of the miracle, they mused to one another, “That son-of-a-bitch ruined our plans for a good funeral.”

One day he was walking by a town called Nain and came upon a funeral procession for a widow who had just lost her son. Jesus, having great compassion, reached over, touched the coffin, and the young man rose up and began talking.

Two priests and a psychologist nearby shook their heads and said, “That bumpkin robbed her of her grief process!”

When his friend Lazarus fell ill, Jesus was once again tardy, arriving four days after his death. Still wanting to see his buddy, he decided to raise him from the dead. But Lazarus’s sisters were put off by the idea because they thought, “By this time, he will stink.”

Yes–they were unwilling to go through a bit of nasal discomfort to have their brother back.

And of course, when Jesus, himself, was put in a tomb, the religious leaders, sure of their power and might, positioned soldiers to guard the tomb and make sure nothing unusual could happen. Of course, the angel just put them to sleep and Jesus rose from the dead.

CREATURE OR CREATOR?

The truth of the matter is–and if it’s not the truth, it’s still a damn good point–as you walk on this Earth you are either a creature or a creator.

A creature of habit, tradition or propriety

Or a creator–someone who simply says, “This thing before me does not need to be exactly what it is, but could be transformed into something different.”

Make up your mind. Just remember:

If you want to see transformation and miracles, hold onto your hat.

You will be jostled.

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Jesonian: Reverend Meningsbee (Part 16) Matrisse … August 14th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3033)

Reverend Meningsbee

The Garsonville church congregation came ricocheting out of the sanctuary, bouncing off the walls like a red rubber ball tossed by a naughty toddler.

They were so pleased with themselves.

Those who had participated in the “Group Sermonette” reprised their roles to the delight of listeners, as the individuals who were passed over by the lottery of numbers sat with a blending of jealousy over being left out and excitement over when they, too, would be asked to be leaders in the Reverend’s Round Robin.

Meningsbee had barely made his way out the door when he was greeted by Matrisse. She asked to see him for a moment, so the good reverend followed her over to a secluded alcove and sat down on a bench.

Now…Matrisse had not been one of the early encouragers to Reverend Meningsbee. She did not criticize him, nor did she leave and join the “Express” congregation. She just watched–carefully.

Although only fifty years old, she had a depth of soul and a rigidity of countenance which reminded him of a giant eagle perched on a high mountain, peering down at the flightless mortals below.

One day she just called and asked if she could come over and see the preacher. She brought chicory and sticky buns, and for three hours the two souls enjoined.

Meningsbee learned much.

Matrisse was the only human of color in the Garsonville community. Her father was a Cherokee chief–retired–and her mother was a Creole dame from New Orleans who dabbled in the “dark arts.” So Matrisse grew up learning the smoking end of a peace pipe and on rainy evenings, found herself digging in the muddy soil to retrieve night crawlers and crickets for her mother to use in favored potions.

Matrisse was a delicious milky-brown color, which in a normal city would render her nearly invisible, but in Garsonville made her appear like she was fresh off the boat from Africa. In her lifetime she had gone from being called “nigger” to more recently being referred to as a “treasure of our community with a colorful personality.”

Meningsbee knew one thing about Matrisse–she was the kind of woman to listen to because she had spent much of her life hearing nonsense, and was able to pull out nuggets of gold from the rubble.

Once they sat down in the alcove, she wasted no time. “Who is this woman you have brought to our church?”

Meningsbee replied, “Kitty? She’s just a girl.”

Matrisse fired back, “Girls do not have boobies and babies.”

The pastor had no reply. He knew it was time to listen.

Matrisse colored in the picture. “I will not take much of your time. I know because you’re a man who has a generous heart, but often a clumsy understanding of pioneer people, that you probably plan to lodge the girl and her baby in your home as an act of Christian charity.”

Actually, Meningsbee didn’t know what his intentions were, but had no reason to argue with the assertion.

Matrisse marched on. “You cannot do this. You are a man, even though you think you are of God. I mean, you know you’re of God, but you’re also a man. What I’m saying is, a man of God is still more man than God. Even if you would never lay a hand on this young girl, everybody would have visions of you fondling her, making wild passionate love to her, and never give you the benefit of the doubt, even if you were remaining pure and chaste.”

Meningsbee hadn’t even thought about it. Any of it. He started to object, but Matrisse interrupted.

“I’m not asking your opinion on this. I am telling you that I will take this woman into my home for two weeks and treat her as my daughter. And her little child will become my pappoose. That’s fourteen days. In that fourteen days, you should talk to her, find out what she wants to do–but make sure that she does not accidentally turn into a Jezebel who comes and destroys this work of God. Do you understand me?”

Meningsbee did.

Matrisse disappeared, and he sat for a moment, thinking about her words. Perhaps they were crude, but they were true to the understanding she possessed of the locals based upon the abundance of experience she had with their tongue-wagging.

At length, he emerged from the alcove and saw her with Kitty and Hapsy, heading toward the door, with Kitty turning helplessly to wave as the juggernaut of activity known as Matrisse pushed them toward home.

Meningsbee smiled.

Sometimes every human being needs to have saints who come along to help make dreams lose their cloudiness…and offer clearer skies.

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Jesonian: Reverend Meningsbee (Part 9) Tongue Depressor … June 26th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(2984)

Reverend Meningsbee

Monday morning was no better.

Before noon, Meningsbee succeeded in offending three well-meaning souls.

Coming back from the church service on Sunday in a growling mood, he had tossed and turned all night, failing to get enough sleep. So when he was awakened at 8:45 A. M. by the phone, he was barely able to eek out a respectable “hello.”

The call came from Pastor Mickey Jiles from the Pentecostal Assembly Church just down the road. Mickey explained that he had awakened “concerned for his brother” after the events of the past week, and wanted to let him know that “prayers were going forth” and “if he needed anything at all, just give a buzz.”

Meningsbee was in no mood for generosity. He managed a curt, “Thank you, but I’m fine,” and hung up–wondering if Pastor Jiles felt the conversation was over.

In the midst of Meningsbee trying to don his socks, there was a knock at the door. It was young Danny, the paper-boy, who came to collect for newspaper deliveries. Suddenly Meningsbee found himself in a squabble with the fine lad over a price hike that had come from the big city without asking Danny’s permission.

Meningsbee begrudgingly paid the extra money as he slammed the door.

Then, somewhere in the midst of a bite of burnt toast, the phone rang again and it was his good friend from Chicago, calling to see how he was doing and how the great experiment was coming along. Meningsbee lied and said he was on his way out the door and would call back later. The sweet old chum remained jovial, but sensed there was some difficulty.

Tuesday was not much better, and Wednesday threatened to get worse. By Thursday, Meningsbee felt it was best that he not interact with any human for fear that he would generate emotional devastation.

So when Sunday rolled around and it was time to go to the church, every “negative nagging ninnie” notion came to his mind as he drove to the sanctuary. He sat in his car, trying to get in a better mood.

The transformation was aided by the fact that there was a pretty good turnout. With his professional pastoral “car-counting ability,” he judged that most of the folks who last week made the benevolent journey to the other congregation had made their way back to the flock.

It should have put him in a good mood, but it didn’t.

So it was time to fall back on his training. How should a good pastor act?

He took three deep breaths, emerged from his car and proceeded into the building.

He forced a smile.

He portrayed himself as jovial.

He hugged a couple of children.

In so doing he became a little too loud, a bit boisterous, and although he had set a precedent for allowing the congregation to determine the tempo of the service, on this morning he stepped in to become the “leader of the worship.”

It was adequate. The average person sitting in the pew possibly didn’t sense anything different, but Meningsbee knew better. He had lost some innocence. What was once a passion for constructive change had now become a competition by a company man.

He was so angry. Or was it disappointment? Or was it a feeling that justice was not being provided?

He remained human just long enough to greet all those who came, and then, before the building was even emptied, he slipped away to his car, climbed in and sat for a moment, staring at the departing friends as tears filled his eyes.

It was a shitty day.

Yes, the word “shit” came from his lips.

Profanity had speckled his mind all week long, but had been held at bay by propriety.

Now it was unleashed.

What the hell was going on?

He started his car, backed up and headed out the exit. He turned right, pointing his vehicle northward, and just started driving.

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Deciding… January 5, 2012

(1,384) 

Fear is the womb that births all indecision.

What makes us afraid?

It is the monsters we chased from our childhood closets, which now have mysteriously found “home” in our adult minds. Most people think the important thing is deciding to do right. Actually, the more valuable choice is landing on the right way to decide. 

I think there are six things that prompt us to “decide,” and the quality of your decisions will be based on which one of these frightens you–or excites you.

1. What’s up? There are many folks who make all of their major directional changes based on the climate of society, the mood of their surroundings or the popular choices of the day. They are literally “blown by the wind.” They move from one thing to another based upon the fad of the moment. They are at the mercy of trends. Of course, we know what the problem is with such a profile. What is presently in vogue will, within a matter of days or weeks, be considered foolish. So if you’re making your decision based on “what’s up,” half the time you’ll be hidden within a  host of adherents and the other half of the time, you’ll be considered out-dated and meaningless.

2. What’s proper? Propriety always harkens to a former time. Former times tend to bring habits to the forefront that are repetitive but not necessarily good. Bad habits breed repression. Repression welcomes sin–and sin ushers in a premature death. Making your personal choices based upon what is proper also puts you at the mercy of the opinion of the strongest and loudest screamer instead of the still, small voice of reason.

3. What’s hard? This is a tricky one–because some people avoid hard things and other people welcome them, feeling they’re very mature because they’re taking on difficult tasks. Can we make something clear? A thing is not better just because it’s harder to do. “Hard” is just a level of fussiness which exists, awaiting an intelligent mind to simplify it. Doing things the hard way is basically admitting you’re stupid–because if any “smarts” existed, a more proficient and easier path would be found.

4. What’s God’s will? This is the one that really makes me laugh. There are people who believe that through prayer, Bible reading or meditation, they are able to make decisions in their lives based upon their discernment of God’s will. This is scary. When I look back over the history of the Crusades and other causes launched in the name of God, a shudder goes down my spine at the notion of anyone believing they are tapping the present daily schedule of the Almighty to find the best approach in any given matter. Actually, God’s will is very simple.  It is: love your neighbor as yourself. And since love and fear cannot coexist and being uncertain of who your neighbor is might stall the process, and an unwillingness to embrace one’s own abilities and emotions could be a deterrent to the conclusion, those very religiously based individuals certainly will find God’s will a bit beyond their groping.

So there are the first four. As you probably can tell, I don’t favor any of them.

  • I will not decide anything based on the vox populi.
  • I certainly cannot condone moving forward on an idea solely determined by its propriety.
  • I am not inclined to pursue a project on the basis of how hard it is–either as a punishment to myself or a proof of my prowess.
  • And honestly, being a mere mortal, accessing God’s will in every matter really is just a case of playing “hot potato.” Because every time I try to toss it off to God, He throws it back my way.

That leaves the final two–and as you probably have guessed, this pair tends to be my favorite.

5. What’s next? Let’s be honest. There is a natural order to things which we sometimes deny because we have pet concepts we want to push to the forefront and often they tend to be out of the flow. On any given day, I know exactly what needs to be done first, second and third, but I may not want to do those things so I pretend they’re unimportant. Life pretty well gives you a “things to do today list,” which you can either ignore or put off–but it doesn’t mean they won’t reappear the following morning. There’s a power in knowing what’s next. Here’s my criterion for what’s next: Of what I presently can do or am willing to do, what is going to create the greater happiness? I will never choose to be unhappy. Even if I am inflicted by disease, my particular attitude will be to move towards happiness and contentment. If you want to know what’s next, find out what’s going to make you happy. If you remove happiness from your life because you think it is unnecessary or unachievable, you are at the mercy of society, propriety, difficulty or a misinterpretation of God’s will. Not a good place to be.

So even when I look at what’s next, I also ask myself, “Is this going to make me and other folks happy?” If the answer is “no,” I am suspicious that this intruder has jumped in line and is not really the next thing I’m supposed to deal with.

6.  And finally, what’s fun? In some ways, we were smarter when wearing short pants. When we were children, we pursued things that were fun and ended up at the end of the day well-exercised, giddy, exhausted and with many friends. What scares away excitement, giddiness and people? Any assertion that fun is not necessary. Because if you’re choosing “what’s next” based on being happy, then deciding what’s fun is just the procedure of making your happiness obvious. If you ask most people if they’re happy, they will say “yes” —  as they frown at you. I just happen to believe that happiness is better expressed through visibly having fun.

As we travel across the country, people will often explain to us that they have to make a decision on whether to have Spirited come into their church. I listen to the tone of their voices.

For some, it’s about, “What’s up?” In other words, “Is this in the flow of our people and will they think it’s a good thing?”

With others, it’s, “What’s proper? Is Spirited going to come in and suggest things we are not presently doing–that might be different?” It’s amazing to me that people expect to have revival in their churches without doing anything new.

Some people want to know if hosting Spirited is going to be hard. They’re afraid there might be a level of difficulty that may surpass their abilities, or that we might make it so easy that they will feel no sense of achievement.

And of course, there are those who think it has to be God’s will. You know, folks, I don’t think I could have traveled for forty years if I didn’t have God as my main investor.

Here’s what I think the basis of every decision should be: What’s next? Is it going to make myself and other folks happier? And: What’s fun? Is that happiness going to be obvious and make us grow into becoming more fruitful individuals?

The first four on our list are decisions based on fear. The last two are decisions of grown-up people who have chased away all the demons — and no longer believe in the Bogey Man.

*************

Jonathan wrote the gospel/blues anthem, Spent This Time, in 1985, in Guaymas, Mexico. Take a listen:

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