Taxing the World… December 17, 2012

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Jon Signing

Let’s assume the story is true. For the sake of today’s essay, let’s agree to believe that the tale told by Matthew and Luke in their gospels is factual.

Caesar decided to tax the world. There’s always someone trying to do that. We live on a globe that is continually bombarded by frustrated individuals who feel that one more annoyance, one more trial, one more war, one more evil or one more excess isn’t going to make any difference one way or another. They are deliverers of straw for the backs of camels–never quite sure if this present shipment is going to break all of our backs.

They are just people who tax the world. They don’t bring anything to the party–they just fuss. They extol the virtue of “debate” and perfect it to the greatest levels of dissension, all in the name of a cause which rarely is developed because there is no time left over for progress. That part of the story makes sense to me–Caesar taxing the world.

Then there are people. Good-hearted, yet not good-natured folks, who end up spending all of their time bitching about the taxes. They try to free themselves of the bondage to the latest Caesar but because they are always complaining about the actions of the government or the mis-deeds of the disenfranchised, they openly admit they’re at the mercy of these merciless politicians and ne’er-do-wells. So Caesar bewitches and the mass of humanity…well, “we bitches.”

It is a nasty, immovable gridlock of meaningless conversation lending itself to deadly delay, opening the door for tragedy to slip into the back windows of our lives because we are too busy discerning the unchangeable. Yes, there are those who tax the world and there are those who bitch about the taxes.

So it was over two thousand years ago in Bethlehem, Judea. It seemed that the most important thing going on was the present affliction being levied on the masses by the Romans, who were trying to raise money to pay for a war in Britannia against the Angles and the Saxons.

And then there was a handful.

In the moment, they seemed meager–a carpenter and his pregnant, besmirched wife, arriving too late into town, not having made preparations for lodging and ending up stalled in the stable; shepherds who certainly wanted to complain about taxes, but found themselves interrupted by more angelic possibilities and needing to make a choice, and wise ones from the East, who were probably mocked by their neighbors as star-gazers with their heads in the clouds, who evidently were completely oblivious to Caesar’s latest imposition.wisemen under star

Yes, there were a few people who decided to birth a new idea.

It is a lesson for all of us. For I will tell you bluntly–CNN and FOX News don’t care one whittle that I write a daily column on the Internet, that I was able to reach tens of thousands of people this year through my travels or that I am recording a new album of music. They are following the latest story of “whoever is taxing the world.” They are also quite interested in those who want to bitch and complain about how over-taxed the world is by problems and difficulties. If you want to send in a tweet or email lamenting some evil in our world, you might get your twelve seconds of fame flashed across the bottom of the screen.

But just as it was in our original story back in Bethlehem, those who are trying to birth a new idea are relegated to obscurity and stuck in a barn somewhere.

But also, just like those so many centuries ago, you have to decide whether you want to be there for the birth, whether you want to worship or whether you want to be one of the wise people.

The producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

Mangerial … December 16, 2011

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Live from Palm Coast, Florida, in A Spirited Christmas

 
I was nearly twelve years old the first time I actually heard and grasped the entire Christmas story. I had been to church before but because of my youthfulness, the absence of having ears to hear and possibly the infrequency of the tale being relayed, I somehow missed the entire impact.
 
I remember when I heard it with my “first ears,” I was astounded by the notion that the heavens could light up with stars, kings could come from the east, angels could dance across the sky and a baby could be born in a barn without the whole world exploding with anticipation.  How could the community the next morning go about business as usual? It was beyond my twelve-year-old mind that something so magnificent and visible could occur without recognition.
 
I don’t think I’m alone in this. I think many of us are under the false impression that if something is grand enough, glorious enough, or even talented enough, then it will receive appropriate status. Now that I have aged and realize the ways of the world, I know that nothing could be further from the truth.
 
God put together the perfect scenario to make sure that the birth of his son went without acclaim amongst the people. Look at it:
 
Two thousand years ago, who cared about a pregnant teenage girl in a small town? Are you trying to tell me there would be any notice for that today? The attitude would be, “She’s poor and ignorant, so her premature entrance to motherhood is somewhat predictable.” Mary, mother of God, didn’t even raise an eyebrow.
 
 Equally so, her partner and husband, Joseph, was just a common everyday laborer in a little community. Who cares about such folks? Governments debate taxes, wealth and affluence. Some fellow working with wood or trying to build a wall wouldn’t garner much attention. 
 
Same thing is true of the star. To see the stars, you have to leave your house at night and stare into the heavens. Most people are too tired to do that. Most people don’t have time to look up because they’re too busy gazing at the ground.
 
And of course, nobody would care what a few shepherds thought about seeing a vision of an angel. They would be considered drunk, blowhards, or just trying to make their lives more interesting.  Shepherds weren’t exactly at the top of the social ranking.
 
Meanwhile, some foreigners coming into town, who were “wicked astrologers” according to the Jewish law, would certainly not have been taken seriously either. After all, the way they viewed the heavens was unacceptable and therefore rejected.
 
Who cares about kids? Once you see a baby and tell the mother it’s beautiful, what’s next? What can a kid do to take away the burden of Roman law? The two most disrespected units in our society are people under the age of ten and over the age of eighty. Who cares about a new-born king?
 
Especially one surrounded by animals in a barn. Talk about disrespect! What creatures get more disrespect than donkeys, sheep and goats? How much of a king could you be if you’re surrounded by livestock?
 
God pulled off the perfect plan. He beamed his son down to earth and shared that information with the most obsolete individuals in the culture of the day–and because it was proclaimed to the forgotten, those who forget never even knew.
 
I decided many years ago that ministry is ALWAYS what is done and never seen–because those who need the ministry the most have no way of either producing remuneration or offering us any notoriety. Pregnant teenagers don’t even make a blip on the screen of politicians. Working men from Nazareth don’t get mentioned in political debates. Weird astrologers from the east are just that — weird. Shepherds are dismissed as eccentric. Children are to be seen and not heard. And animals…well, after all, they’re just animals.
 
I’m slowing up over the next few days, to pay attention to the forgotten of our society–because if Jesus is going to be re-birthed in our hearts, it will not be done on Christian television, CNN, FOX News or some Barbara Walters special. We will find him in the pregnant teens, the working men, the bizarre star-gazers, the flighty shepherds and amongst the creatures of the earth. That’s where he’ll be.
 
So here’s to the first birth–and to my quest to find Jesus in this Christmas season. Just find the forgotten and you will rediscover the manger.
 
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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!

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To see books written by Jonathan, click the link below! You can peruse and order if you like!

http://www.janethan.com/tour_store.htm

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