Not Long Tales … September 24th, 2019

Jonathots Daily Blog

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7.

The Grass Is…

Having been married for five years and saving up the residue from paychecks, Harry and Sandy Richardson were finally able to muster the down payment, mingled with the gumption and the good fortune, to purchase their first home—not exactly what they wanted, and certainly a little more than they could afford.

Sandy worked the night shift at the local county hospital and Harry was the overnight manager at the local pencil factory.

Now, the little two-bedroom, one-bath cottage sat on 156 Carmel Street in Walakons, Washington. There was no back yard, as the home sat in front of a nearby forest, but there was a quarter acre of beautiful lawn in the front, with the prettiest green grass you’ve ever seen.

Shortly after arriving, the neighbor to the right came over with a special casserole, and the neighbor to the left soon appeared at the front door with two bottles—one of wine and one grape juice, just in case the Richardsons were teetotalers.

So Harry and Sandy settled into domesticated life, and even began to consider having a child, though the idea terrified them. They certainly knew how to make one, but not necessarily what to do once it sprouted.

Speaking of sprouting, their front grass didn’t.

Something went awry. The beautiful lawn they had purchased suddenly began sporting dry patches—ugly brown sections all over, splotching the expanse. Harry quickly ran down to the local self-help store and asked what to do. Several different nutrients, and bags of this and that were suggested, but no matter what he applied, the grass continued to die out.

Harry thought it was a good idea to go over to the neighbor to the right to ask for a suggestion, since his lawn seemed fine. He was happy to help though he had to admit he had never seen such a problem in all his living days. He explained to Harry that the best thing to do was buy a big bag of hog excrement mingled with plenty of nitrogen to enrich the soil. He further expounded that the key was to spread it over his lawn at night, so that the evening mist and dew could perform their magic. Harry was so excited that he almost hugged the man, though it was a bit too soon for familiarity of that sort.

That night, Harry and Sandy, before going to their jobs, went out and sprinkled the magic potion all over the front yard. It took about forty-five minutes. When they arrived back home the following morning and the sun rose, they prepared for a miracle.

But the patches of ever-losing grass remained the same. The only evidence of the treatment was the lingering fragrance of a hog farm in full bloom.

Then the left-hand neighbor, sympathetic to the plight of the Richardsons, stepped in, patting Harry on the shoulder. “Don’t worry, my man,” he said. “I have the answer for you. There is this grass seed you can buy which is derived from a strain from the rain forest in Brazil. You plant this in your yard, and then, just make sure that for the next two days you water the entire area in three-hour intervals.”

It sounded so promising that Harry nearly cried. (Sandy went ahead and did it for both of them.)

Once again, the pair faithfully followed the prescription offered by the left-hand neighbor, but after a week nothing improved, except that the front yard had patches of puddles, resembling a rice paddy in China.

Harry talked to a botanist. He consulted a turf and earth specialist. He listened. He studied. He scanned the Internet.

He began losing some of the sleep he needed during the day, trying to find out what to do with his deteriorating quarter-acre. Because both Harry and Sandy were so invested in the issue, they became snippy and started blaming each other. There was no basis for the attacks—it just felt good to scream at something other than the front yard.

The death of the grass continued. Then Harry and Sandy noticed that the neighbors weren’t coming around anymore. Matter of fact, they had stopped making eye contact. The normal “howdy” or “how are you?” disappeared, as right-hand neighbor and left-hand neighbor quickly turned their backs, busying themselves and avoiding all contact.

There was even the whisper of a rumor which trickled back to the Richardson household. There were those in the surrounding block who believed there might be some sort of curse on the couple, which was manifesting itself through this unnatural occurrence. Of course, most of the sane folk of Carmel Street rejected such superstition but still played it safe by not getting too close to the 156 address.

As the bickering between the Richardsons grew worse, they sought out a counselor who offered little comfort to them, except to suggest that no matter how odd it seemed, perhaps a move to another house might be in order, to salvage their nuptials.

Then one day, neighbor to the right had a knock on his door. It was Harry, informing him that he and his wife were going on a cruise to Bermuda—one of those counseling affairs, where married couples with problems could escape onboard a beautiful ship, sip Mai Tais and solve their painful struggle.

Harry also visited the neighbor to the left. He told both neighbors that while he and Sandy were away, he had hired someone to come in and do a very special treatment to the lawn, blending both right-hand neighbor’s idea and left-hand neighbor’s idea together—to see if the twain could make the lawn one.

Harry outlined to his friends that these experts would be pitching a huge tent over the entire quarter-acre to do their work and to keep the sun from interrupting the treatment. Both neighbors were fascinated and promised to keep an eye on the house but would stay away from the tent area so the blending could be truly miraculous.

So on Tuesday, Harry and Sandy put their bags in their car and headed off to the airport to escape to rediscover their marital bliss. As promised, trucks arrived, workers erected a huge tent, there were the sounds of digging, and people coming and going for the next five days. Matter of fact, the workers had to come to Neighbor Right and Neighbor Left to apologize, because they would be doing some work on the final night, and might make a little noise, which they hoped would not be an intrusion.

Exactly nine days later, Harry and Sandy returned, well-tanned and doing a lot of smiling and hugging. They went to Neighbor Right and Neighbor Left and invited them over for the unveiling of the front yard—the result of the two treatments that had been so graciously suggested.

Five workers came, and meticulously removed the tent. After about an hour of labor, they exposed the prettiest green lawn you ever saw in your life.

Neighbor Right gasped and Neighbor Left clapped his hands. The two men walked over, shook hands vigorously and patted Harry on the back. Harry returned their enthusiasm, thanking them profusely for their contributions, and standing back to admire his lawn—the evidence of a community effort.

Well, before you knew it, there were half-a-dozen other folks, who came out and stood back in wonder, peering at the green grass like they had arrived on resurrection morning, witnessing Jesus himself walking out of the grave.

Everyone was so thrilled that a block party was planned for the following Saturday night to celebrate the patch of grass that was once brown and now had “greened” before everyone’s eyes. After all the congratulations were done, the giggles were finished and the back-patting was fulfilled, everyone returned to their homes and Harry and Sandy walked into their front door.

Harry gave Sandy a big, huge, loving hug. “I’m sorry,” he said. “It’s hard for me to believe that I let our front yard control my affection for you.”

Sandy nodded. “Do you think it’s gonna work?” she asked Harry thoughtfully.

Harry Richardson turned and stared out his front window at his amazing lawn. “Yes,” he said. “I think it will. If our neighbors don’t ever find out that we put in really high-quality artificial turf.”

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Jesonian … June 23rd, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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“He turned the water into wine.”

Let’s just stop and think about that. Jesus had a cousin named John, who took a Nazarite vow. No liquor.

A very popular religious cult of the time, the Essenes, also were teetotalers.

Even though many historians will note that wine was a common drink of the masses, it was often considered forbidden–actually uncommon among those who deemed themselves religious–especially if you were just starting a movement.

What were you trying to communicate? After all, water is the symbol of life–to such an extent that we often refer to “the water of God’s word.”

Why would Jesus care that a young married couple ran out of wine during their reception? What was that to him?

To me, the message is clear. Water is what you drink when you’re thirsty. Wine is what you select when you want to get buzzed.

A transition was in order. A New Testament was about to be unleashed on the world. What better symbolism than to make it clear that water–in other words, our lives–was meant to be wine, thus intoxicating?

No longer were we to merely survive, but celebrate.

It wasn’t an issue of sustaining our beings, but rather, imbibe by getting drunk on the Spirit.

You don’t have to go any further than the commands he gave to the servants, who were to set the miracle in motion.

1. “Fill it to the brim.”

Six water pots in all, holding at least fifteen gallons each. So we’re talking about ninety gallons of wine. This was not a gift to “finish up the party.” Rather, it was an inclination to keep the party going.

2. “Pour it out.”

Get it into people’s cups. Don’t display it. Don’t revere it. Don’t call it “holy wine.” This is drinking vino. This wine is for the purpose of people “rejoicing and being exceedingly glad.” No longer are our lives supposed to be watered down, but instead, juiced up.

3. “Make it the best.”

Jesus told the servants to take the wine to the governor of the feast, who sardonically panned, “Usually at these weddings they bring out the crappy wine at the end. But you’ve saved the best for last.”

What is crappy wine? It’s wine that is either freshly-squeezed grape juice, or so old that it’s almost turned to vinegar.

There’s a message here–we need to stop acting like we’re grape juice–pure and without sin–or that we’re turning into vinegar in our pews because we’re so soured by our life and our experiences.

Taste good.

Inebriate.

It was the message of Cana of Galilee.

You don’t start a revolution by walking away from a wedding feast, refusing to make wine over spiritual pettiness.

You create an international revival by being the one who has the sense, at the right moment, to put the “juice on the loose.”

 

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Good News and Better News… October 30th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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I have participated in thousands and thousands of …

Now, what shall I call them? For if I refer to these as “performances, shows or gigs,” religious people will give me the holy frown of disapproval because I have trivialized the spiritual significance.

But by the same token, referring to my efforts as ministry, worship leading or any other divine terminology makes me reek of pretension.

Of course, worst of all is the safe, but vanilla describer, “presentation.”

I run into the same problem when I try to decide whether to say a robust “Praise God” or a timid “thanks be to God.”

Do I go for the full dunk in baptism, or settle for some other plunk?

Should communion be unleavened bread, or a golden loaf?

Wine or Welch’s grape juice (which many denominations insist was Jesus’ preference)?

And I think the most intimidating crossroads of all is settling whether our Christian faith is ground in social commentary or revivalism.

That’s why the tambourine is pictured today. A tambourine can scare a Lutheran or a Methodist to death–almost as much as a printed bulletin with liturgy makes a Baptist tremble.

It just doesn’t seem to occur to us that defining the word “ministry” requires taking a long gaze into the lifestyle and actions of Jesus of Nazareth.

Jesus was both contemplative and flamboyant.

He had the strange notion that the profile for what he did in blessing others was contingent on what they needed, and not confined to the Book of Common Prayer.

So to one person, he said, “Be healed.”

He touched lepers.

He spit on someone else.

He stuck his fingers in another person’s ears.

And he shouted to raise the dead.

He would have upset a lot of people.

Jesus didn’t worship miracles; he didn’t minister miracles–he performed miracles.

He showcased the Gospel in stories, told with colorful description and high-flung gestures.

The church has lost Jesus because it has focused on either social gospel or revivalism.

Jesus was the Son of God, who came to teach us how to get along with each other–with a tambourine in his hand.

So the good news is that we need both social commentary and revivalism.

The better news is, when we actually mingle the two, we suddenly become more relevant.

 

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Cracked 5 … August 29th, 2017


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Ironic Things Overheard on the Deck of the Titanic Shortly Before It Left on Its Final Journey

A. “Reginald, do we need more life boats?”

 

B. “No, Horatio, I just finally got the number even on both sides.”

 

C. “God, I hope I get to see an iceberg–a big’un!”

 

D. “I wonder if they’ll ever make a movie about this boat?”

 

E. “Tell the stewards to save the best wines and caviar for when we get closer to New York.”

 

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Ask Jonathots … January 14th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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I’m fifteen years old and want to be an actress. I watched the Golden Globes and it looked like everyone was intoxicated. Some of my friends think that drinking is no big deal–after all, it’s not “doing drugs.” Their parents drink, after all. Their older brothers and sisters drink. Everyone drinks. What do you think about it?

I personally am not a big fan of camping.

Matter of fact, I only have one clear memory of going on such an excursion. What I do remember about the experience is that you do a lot of walking and while doing this peddling along, you are also carrying everything you need on your back, so that when you arrive at the campsite for the evening, you can open it up and have your “stuff” to make the journey tolerable.

You know what I discovered on the first night? Half of the things I brought were useless, making me tired carrying it around.

I found a nearby trash can and threw these items away, which someone had told me were necessary to have a woods event.

My second day was so much more pleasurable, and when I arrived for the evening’s rest, I had everything I needed–and if I didn’t, I was still happy that I had a lighter load.

  • Thus drinking.
  • Thus smoking.
  • Thus obesity.
  • Thus nervous energy.

Anything we decide to tuck into our lifestyle which we have to carry only makes the journey a bit more difficult, will slow our pace, and in the long run, when we arrive at our destination, will probably have to be abandoned in favor of more freedom.

I’ll tell you what I feel when I watch the Golden Globes and see people drinking. Since they are actors, directors and producers, I would like to follow the story line of their alcoholic curve. Are they really able to hold it to a couple of glasses of wine and an occasional beer, or does the liquor begin to control the dialogue, the circumstances, the party or even the friends?

I would say if you’re able to drink a glass of wine at a meal or have a beer with a bratwurst without feeling the need to carry alcohol into your life for inconvenient times, then you should be just fine. But to look at alcohol as a social statement, a way of relaxation, a means to unwind or a must so that you can garner the right people for your party, is to set yourself up for arriving at your goal toting a burden rather than a benefit.

How many people sitting at the Golden Globes have already been through rehab and countless attempts to stop drinking, or are short months away from a DUI which will place them in the public eye with a frown?

Alcohol is a substance. It warns us of its potency and danger by its flavor and after-effects. If you can incorporate that taste and responsibility in your life without losing control or feeling compelled to imbibe, then there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it.

But many have insisted they can, and crashed.

Yes, many have lost their way.

Keep this in mind.

Alcohol never helped anybody get to their dream. 

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Jesonian: Just Add Water … March 29, 2015

Jonathots Daily Blog

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water into wine

He turned the water into wine

Come, celebrate

“No thanks,” we replied.

“We shall hide out in our fears

And cuddle up to our traditions.”

So he transformed the wine into blood

Here is my death

I give you my life

Nailing him down

We tried to bury his memory

Yet the blood became salvation

What was meant for evil

Has been given to us as good

Now salvation returns to waters

The water of His words

He that is thirsty

Come and drink.

 

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Jesonian: We Are Not the Bread … September 28, 2014

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We are not the bread, we are the yeast.

We are not the world, but rather, the light.

We are not the meat. Salt, we are.

We are not the soil, but seed to be sown by the sower.

We are not the wineskin. Behold, new wine.

What does Planet Earth need?

  • Spirit: God is with us if we are with each other and sensitive to his creation.
  • Life: abundant possibilities producing the opportunity to use what we have instead of lamenting our lack.
  • Joy: be of good cheer. Nothing happens until we involve ourselves in the process.

Jesonian is not a religion, a belief, a system of worship or a moral code for judging others. It is when we add our lifestyle of effort, mercy and love to what is available.

It transforms entertainment into inspiration, business into creativity, faith into living works, politics into compassion that counts the cost, family into an every-growing inclusion of our brothers and sisters, and relationship into eternal connections.

We are not the bread.

We have not come to be served … but instead, to serve.

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The Sermon on the Mount in music and story. Click the mountain!

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