Jesonian: Reverend Meningsbee (Part 19) The Writing on the Wall … September 4th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Reverend Meningsbee

Running ten minutes late, Meningsbee motored his way through some of the back streets of little Garsonville, on his way to the high school to speak to the creative writing class about “what’s it like to be a writer.” He was late to the appointment because Matrisse had entranced him with a tale of foolishness and woe.

When Matrisse first arrived, she referred to Kitty as “Sassy.” Meningsbee didn’t think much about it. But as she related the events from her homestead, he realized that she had no great affection for the young girl he had befriended on his overnight trip to South Dakota.

It seems Kitty had quickly become antsy hanging around home with Matrisse and Hapsy, and slipped away to the only bar in Garsonville–an establishment with nine stools, a pool table, which offered extra-hot buffalo wings to any brave takers. There, Kitty met up with a young man named Tarbo. Although Matrisse was pretty certain this was not his given Christian name, it was the only one Sassy–or Kitty–would provide.

Matrisse explained that Kitty was in tears because she wanted to go with Tarbo to Chicago, where he intended to sign up to join the Navy, to become a SEAL. Kitty was afraid if she didn’t go with him, she might never see him again, as he would certainly be sent off to fight the terrorists in foreign lands.

Long story short, Kitty wanted Matrisse to watch Hapsy for a couple of weeks so she could go chase this dream–which seemed to be ordained by God, Himself, since they met under such supernatural circumstances down at the pub.

Meningsbee had listened intently, knowing that eventually Matrisse would close off her tellings with some sort of question–that probably being, “And what are you going to do about this?”

Fortunately, he was able to make an escape because of the speaking commitment at the high school, telling Matrisse he would call her later so they could cap their conversation.

She frowned, looking at him with an old witchy evil eye, and said, as she departed the house, “It ain’t no good, Reverend.”

So still having the whole fiasco on his mind, Meningsbee arrived at the high school creative writing class to discover that four of the students had asked to be excused from the lecture, because their parents were former members of the church, and didn’t think it was right to have the preacher come to teach the children. This affrontation was more distressing to the instructor than it was to Meningsbee. He just smiled and said, “Let’s go.”

He didn’t talk long to the class–about ten minutes.

He explained to them about writing his book, The Jesus Church, what it meant to edit, how to realize when you were finished with a book, and some of the inner workings of publishing.

At the end of the class, he opened it up for Q and A–the teacher’s request. Meningsbee was pretty sure none of the kids would be very inquisitive.

After what seemed to be an interminable silence (probably only about fifteen seconds), one student raised his hand, and with a huge smirk on his face, said, “I don’t think I would like your book. I don’t believe in God.”

The classroom offered up a mixture of gasps and giggles. The teacher stepped forward to scold the boy.

Meningsbee interrupted her.

“Thank you for your question,” said Meningsbee. “Or whatever it was. I write about God because God wrote about me. It seemed the right thing to do. Polite, you know. Like coming up with a legitimate question for a guest speaker when he takes the time to come to your school. You see, God is either our Creator–or He’s nothing. If He’s nothing, He’s been really successful at extending a myth for thousands and thousands of years. If He is our Creator, then He knows how we are made. I don’t know how I’m made. Do you?”

Meningsbee didn’t wait for the boy to respond. “Didn’t think so. So I read what God wrote about me, and basically, my book is writing back what I think about Him. You see, it’s a combination of appreciation and doubt. First, I appreciate the fact that I can live. I especially like eating. I could do without bowling.”

The class mustered a giggle.

“But also, I have questions. I wonder why, since we’re all children of God, we can’t get together and find what we have in common instead of constantly harping on our differences. I wonder why my Creator tolerates idiots preaching for Him, who don’t care about anybody else, and do nothing generous in His name. And most of all, I wonder how sad He must be that an intelligent young man sitting in a schoolroom has to deny he believes in Him to look like he’s smart. So even though you didn’t ask, that’s why I wrote the book. Any more questions?”

Meningsbee quickly grabbed his papers and headed for the door.

“Didn’t think so. Thanks for your time.”

As he scurried down the hallway of the school like an alien from outer space escaping a NASCAR convention, he chuckled to himself.

He was imagining what the students must be thinking…or maybe he was just hoping he got them to do so.

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

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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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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