When Jesus Came East Out of Texas

Happy Easter, y’all.

-1-

When Jesus came east out of Texas, He came out tan,
even dark skinned, brown eyes, black hair. A Somebody
He could’ve been, being Jesus. Instead He was
a cotton chopping, dish washing, toilet cleaning, hard working
Man of a Jesus, His hands calloused from the fields He’d worked,
His muscles aching so tired He could hardly sleep most nights.

When Jesus came east out of Texas, He came out kicking-up dirt
along the lonely, dusty road leaving Nazareth
coming into a country that don’t allow a kicking up dirt.
Run out of town He was
near tarred and feathered for saying a thing that was true.
You see, a prophet don’t get a bit of respect in the town He’s from.
Nazareth folk knew His mama and His stepdaddy,
claimed they’s always acting uppity like his kin was closer to the Almighty than anybody,
keeping the Sabbath and testifying,
yes testifying they’d been touched by the Lord’s own hand.
Said they’d seen an angel too. “Imagine that,” some said.
“God can’t be that real, just one big myth and no place to be found.
We townspeople been praying way too long for the Expected One
and we’re not about to be taken in by a bastard Son of Joachim’s child.
If this Jesus is a messiah, the town drunk must be Moses.
After all, that drunk would part the Red Sea too if there’s a bottle of whiskey on the other shore.
And he can quote the Scriptures better’n any Baptist preacher.”

When Jesus came east out of Texas, He scrounged up work wherever He could,
roustabouting on the rigs out in the Gulf,
picking peaches over Georgia way,
digging the black rock out of West Virginia hills.
Even cleaned stables from time to time—
some said He felt home there, being He was Mary’s Baby Child born in a stall.
Right good with animals too, God’s own creatures He called them.
Able to gentle a horse nobody else could.

When Jesus came east out of Texas, He met up with a river.
Went and got Hisself baptized in that great Euphrates of a river;
yes, baptized down yonder in the Old Muddy Mississippi
near Jericho where the seven walls fell,
baptized by His own sweet cousin John,
you know the Baptist who preached
John three sixteen once saved always saved amen.
Straightaway a Dove
whiter than the snow white robes of the saints washed in the Blood,
that Holy Ghost Dove rose,
like Excalibur He rose out of the waters and into the heavens
calling out in dove-talk words only a prophet would know.

When Jesus came east out of Texas, He shook Hisself free,
shook off that river, pulled on His sneakers.
Spent a time in the Delta and ran up against Doctor Hoodoo at the Crossroads,
gave old Scratch such a whacking
right then and there Beelzebub invented the Blues.
Then it was on down to New Orleans for Jesus,
that Sodom and Gomorrah town
where sinners cut their eye teeth on the Seven Deadlies.
Amongst the smells of remoulade and gumbo drifting through the Vieux Carré,
Jesus changed the me-got-troubles-and-the-troubles-me-got-cut-down-deep-to-the-bone
Beelzebub Blues into Jazz when Jesus came east out of Texas.

When Jesus came east out of Texas, He hopped the night train to Memphis.
Hoboed Hisself up to Graceland and the Land of Elvis,
that motherlode of Rock and Roll born wearing Blue Suede Shoes
cradled alongside the Mother of Rivers,
where Mary Mag in a room at the Heartbreak Hotel called out to her lover, “Love me tender,”
where Simon Peter, like his daddy and his granddaddy before, worked the docks, loading and unloading,
where Beale Street opened its arms wide, welcoming a Man named Jesus,
for Jesus loved sinners, and the sinners loved Jesus.

When Jesus came east out of Texas, He told stories,
and He told them ‘bout prodigals and rejects,
‘bout a beggar name of Lazarus and a mustard seed
with faith ‘nough to move a mountain cross the State of Georgia.
But the sinners had heard them all before
from the holy ghost healers and the Bible thumpers and the tent preachers,
from the theologians and the priests and the social gospelleers,
from the Billy Sundays and the Bishop Sheens and the Billy Grahams
they had heard the stories and were none too partial to hearing them again
till they heard the “fear not” in the voice of Jesus who came east out of Texas
and the Beloved He took to calling them like they’s somebody.

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When Jesus came east out of Texas, he moved from town to town
making His way through places with names like Shiloh and Rose of Sharon and New Hope,
just dots on a map for some but home for others.
Wherever He went walking, a rag-tag band followed after,
souls in need of learning how to swim, souls drowning in a sea of storms,
souls like Mary Mag come begging for love,
a woman the gossips dubbed Slut from the shantyside of town.
She Sunday-dressed and fancied herself up and dropped down on her knees
in the grass, in the dirt to beg the feet of Jesus for forgiveness.
He gave her what she wanted much;
He loved her tenderly with words that forgave her many sins.
And them sinning folk, my how they loved Jesus.
Would have followed Him anywhere the sun rises and sets.
But at the edge of the crowd stood a preacher name of Caiaphas.
He heard all the Truth that Jesus spoke and he didn’t listen ‘cause he was so full of hisself.
He turned and walked away from Jesus with a “how dare he” on his lips.

When Jesus came east out of Texas, He preached a sermon,
preached it on the banks of the Chattahoochee.
Said a lot of strange things, things like “Blessed”
and “Forgive” and “Turn the other cheek” and “Love your neighbor.”
Told one fellow, “Take up your street and walk.”
That man, who couldn’t walk, did just that, stood hisself up
and walked, walked away with no limp at all.
Another time He said, “If you begat the sword, the sword will begat you.”
Called God, you know the Almighty Jehovah, He named Him Father.
Said, “God is Love.” Of all things.
“How ‘bout that,” said the sinners who had always thought
God was Judge and Jury, and Sheriff too.

When Jesus came east out of Texas, some of the upstanding,
well they had themselves a meeting,
an Upstanding Citizens Committee Meeting.
Seems they didn’t like the rumors coming their way ‘bout this Man Jesus
Like He could walk on water, heal the sick, cast out demons.
“Everybody knows there ain’t no such thing as demons,” they said.
“So how can He cast out a thing that ain’t?”
There was even talk that Jesus raised a dead man right out of his sleep.
“Downright blasphemous was what that was,”
the citizens said. “Let the dead lie in peace.”
From the mouth of Preacher Caiaphas, they heard
the words they felt deep down in their hard-hearted hearts, they heard,
“We can’t allow any more of His Good News stuff being spread around.
Why, what will happen to law and order, to hellfire and brimstone, if the sinners believe?”

When Jesus came east out of Texas, the citizens
dressed themselves up in hoods and in robes like it was Halloween and went out looking.
When they found Jesus, they watched and they watched ‘cause watching was what they did
till one night they found Him alone down by a creek a-praying.
Arrested him on a trumped-up charge. “Baptisin’ without a license,” the hypocrites called it.
Had themselves a trial. But it was no real trial, just a sham of a justice.
“So you think you’re a Jesus?” Preacher Caiaphas said, his spite spitting out the words of Satan
who’d known he’d have his revenge for the whacking he’d taken from the hand of Jesus.
“You ain’t nothing of a Jesus. Our Jesus
is a blue-eyed, blonde-haired, fair-skinned Jesus, and you ain’t him.”

When Jesus came east out of Texas, the whip came down,
it came down hard on Jesus,
and the whip came down hard some more
till it had come down hard on His back some thirty-nine times.
“Let’s hang the nigger,” one of the hoods shouted out.
The citizens carved King of the Niggers into His face,
into the face of Jesus and they lynched Him from a tree.
Strung up in space He swung halfway ‘tween earth and heaven
till He died that dark and moonless night.
Then the hypocrites one by one slunk away, saying,
“Well, that’s the last we’ll hear of that nigger.”

Later, later in the dark, later in the night, His friends came to the tree,
that lonesome tree where the Good Man hung—
Mother Mary, Mary Mag, Simon Peter, Little John, they came
and pulled His body down, bruised and scarred.
They laid their broken Jesus into a grave by the river He’d loved.

Out of the darkness came a great shout of light when
Jesus who came east out of Texas stepped out of the ground,
His body now whole and new, and the world could not hold Him,
He ascended into eternity like He’d said He would,
promising, “Mi amigos, viyo con Dios, and remember
I shall see you again.
Soon.”

So look east, my friends. Yes, look east and perhaps,
just perhaps….

The Second Coming, Maybe

Some folks think they know something even Jesus doesn’t know. I’m talking Second Coming here. In May of 2012, some radio preacher predicted it. Second Coming didn’t happen. The Mayans had predicted it for the following December. It didn’t happen then either.

Jerry Jenkins and Tim LaHaye, author of the Left Behind books, gave it the old college try. Nostradamus said it would be Y2K, and we know what a bust that one was. Pat Robertson predicted 2007. He first thought 1982 was to be the big year, but he re-evaluated. Edgar Cayce and Sun Myung Moon both said 2000.

The astrologer Jean Dixon even put in her two cents. Said it was to be 1962 according to the alignment of the planets. The planets forgot to check with her. They didn’t align properly and we didn’t get the fireworks she promised. She checked her charts again, and lo and behold, it’s supposed to be 2020. These are just a few of the ones who have blown it. And when they blow it, they don’t admit they blew it. Doesn’t this sound a lot like politicians?

No, they’re like software. They give us an update. Unless they do a Jim Jones and drink some Kool-Aid.

Guess the reason Radio Preacher Guy and the others blew it was because they were getting a little impatient. And they had not read Hal Lindsey’s book, “The Late Great Planet Earth”. Old Hal thought he had the road to the Second Coming down pat. He put his guesses in a nice, neat package and wrapped it up with a ribbon. He even gave it a name. Called it his stepping-stones to Jesus. First we get a temple, then we get an Armageddon. Then a Pope named Six-six-six.

The Catholics disagree on that one. The pope of the Second Coming is supposed to be Peter. And named Peter 2. The Mormons added their own take on the Second Coming. Jesus is supposed to set down in Missouri. Seems Hal didn’t check with the Mormons or the Catholics. Never did Radio Preacher Guy, Pat Robertson or Tim LaHaye.

Well, I think it is time I cleared it all up and gave you the real skinny. I have spent many years studying the hieroglyphics of the Book of the Dead Folks and the cuneiforms from the Tower of Babel. That last one turned out to be a lot of talk, talk, talk. I studied the Dead Sea Scrolls. They were a little dusty, so you can’t always trust them. The Nag Hammadi Codices were really not that helpful. It was hard to read what they said was the handwriting on the wall. Turned out it was written on a cave wall in a sandy spot in the desert. Them Gnostics were real kidders, you know.

I read the Vedas and the Tao te ching. Meditated on Mount Nanda Devi and Mount Fuji. Talked to a voodoo priestess. She read the entrails of a chicken for me. Smoked some, well I am not saying what we smoked, but just take my word for it. The Rastafarians know where the good stuff is.

Checked my Aztec calendar and it seemed to be running slow. Finally figured it was running on Aztec Savings Time. And the Aztec god of whatever, big Q, wasn’t talking. He is very upset that everybody took him to be Cortez. Well, he wanted me to let all the good Aztecs everywhere know. He wasn’t Cortez and he’s not taking the rap for Montezuma’s boo-boo.

Besides he’s been working the Star Trek gig and he is not about to give that up yet. He likes the money. He doesn’t have to work too hard. It’s only an occasional appearance he has to make after all.

I prayed at Olympus and checked with the Sibyl at Delphi. The Vestal Virgins only wanted to party. What else can you expect from the toga lobby?

I went through the Bible frontwards and backwards. You have to read it backwards if you’re reading it in Hebrew. Read the the Torah and the Talmud and the Kabbalah too. I studied the Old Testament, the New Testament and the In-Between-Testament. Read what Enoch said and what Adam wrote. I interviewed the lion that was going to eat Daniel. I visited Elijah’s cave and sailed to Patmos and hung out with an old guy who actually hung out with John when he was writing the Book of Revelations. I consulted the stars and I consulted the planets. Even checked with my crystals.

Finally, yes finally, I came up with the time. Not an exact date but a specific time. It was amazing but it made sense. And thanks to your patience I am about to reveal the revealable.

Before I do let you in on the secret, I have to tell you that none but none of those other guys and girls were right. They were all way off the mark.

So when is the Second Coming to be? You are not going to believe this. It will be the day, the exact day, when the White Sox beat the Cubs and win the World Series. That is also the day when hell freezes over.

God’s Day Off

Sunday is God’s day off. I know what you’re thinking. Saturday is the Seventh Day, and the Big Guy gets the seventh day off. I’m here to to tell you that is so Old School. Just check most calendars. The week starts with Monday. Not Sunday. Sunday is now the seventh day and that’s God’s day for R and R. It’s in the Good Book, you know.

Come Sunday, He’s really tired. Running the universe is one thing. Easy peasy. Answering prayers, well, that’s a totally different thing. You’ve heard the saying, “You can please none of the people all the time, some of the people some of the time, and all the people none of the time.” That’s prayers for you. Like Ringo sings, “It just don’t come easy.” And like a recent president used to say, “It’s hard.”

But God does His best to keep the whole thing rolling. I would say that He does a darn good job of it. Oh, sure. He gets help from all those angels. But you know what they say? The buck stops here. God keeps hearing that, and it’s about to piss Him off. He’s got patience up the wazoo but enough is enough.

So it’s not too much to ask that the Big Guy get one day a week off. He’s been thinking about a vacation but He’s having a rough time training someone to do the work while He’s gone. He would let Jesus run the show when He’s gone. The thing is Jesus is off trying to save another planet. Been sending emails back to Heaven saying that He’s finally found a race more stubborn than human beings.

Holy Spirit don’t have the time either. She’s been in a scuffle with a bunch of rebellious angels. Can’t break away for the time being. God tried out Moses but he kept dropping things. And King David has this thing going with some angel named Bathsheba. He can’t spare the time either. Buddha just refuses. He says he’s definitely not in the god business.

So, for the time being, all God’s getting off is His Sundays. It gives Him a chance to sleep late. Have breakfast in bed, served on a golden platter by Mrs. G herself. She keeps telling Him to lay off the bacon. He’s told His people no bacon. So why not Him? He tells her, “There’s an exception to every rule. And since I make the rules, I can make the exceptions.” She would have pushed the subject but she decided she had better not. He’s pretty good with those thunderbolts.

Next He goes out for a game of golf. He’s a two under par player. He likes to tee off with the Archangel Gabriel and work on improving His score. Used to play with Michael but Michael has a tendency to take things way too serious. Satan tried to talk God into a game of touch football but Jehovah wasn’t having any of that. Golf’s the game for Him. ‘Doing it for the exercise,” He says. God has been trying to shed a few pounds lately. Wants to get down to his ideal weight of 188. Since He is not averse to a little wager on the side, He and Gabe have a running bet. The winner buys the other dinner.

And just to show that He’s a caring husband, God picks up a dozen red roses for the Mrs. on His way home. At the end of the day, He gets a good night’s sleep and He’s ready for a new week.

Now what does this mean for you and me? Means we have to keep the prayers to a minimum on that seventh day. God’s assistant, a guy named Mercury, has been known to put them in the spam folder. Then they get deleted at the end of the day. So a word to the wise.

If there is an emergency, you can always call the Heavenly 9-1-1. Not sure who you’ll get. But if Michael is on duty, talk nice to him. He’s been known to kick butt just because someone was in a rush. Be prepared to duck. He’s got a mean left hook.

Seven Alleluias

Happy Easter everybody.

Seven Alleluias. Now that’s some good news.
Not one but Seven. How ‘bout that?

Seven things to shout, Seven ways to pray,
Seven Gates into the City of God.

All Seven are good; all Seven are praise.
But where to begin? Where do we start?

The First Alleluia, Alleluia Number One:
God is Love, and He loves us much.

So it is we pray, “Thy Will be done.”
So it shall be Amen at the Gate

where Everything is Love, Love is Everything.
The Second (on a Circle of Seven)?

God became a flesh-and-blood mortal;
He lived with us some thirty-odd years.

So whatever we pray, be it good, be it bad,
we petition the One Who Understands

beneath the arch of the Gate with the word
HUMILITY burned into the oak above us.

Alleluia Three? Well, that’s the One that has God on a cross,
an Innocent dying, the Guiltless for the guilty.

So we pray, and the prayers we pray, the forgiveness we need
as we kneel at the Gate of the Forgiven.

An empty tomb, a Resurrection, and the Fourth Alleluia
celebrates that first Easter morning at each day’s dawn.

So we too can rise from a death that is lies
and follow the Savior-Son through the Gate called Promise.

When the Fifth Alleluia comes, it is with the Holy Spirit.
We sing “Hosanna,” the key that swings open the Pentecost Gate

into the Country of the Sixth Alleluia,
into the Land of the Gate of Belonging

where we People of God rejoice and pray,
and hope for the Day of the Seventh Alleluia

as we gather at the Maranatha Gate to wait
for the Seventh Stroke of the Clock and the Second Coming.

So it is we pray. So it shall be. Amen
and Alleluia times Seven. Now that’s some Good News.

Moses

For all those holding Passover.

I remember Moses. He stood there before Old Man Pharaoh, stuttering and telling him, “Let my People go.” That day he was as tall as the day is long as it stretches from dawn to sunset. The Egyptians laughed. How dare Moses insult them with his arrogance. When the Old Man refused to let us go, Moses stretched out the staff of the Lord and gave him ten plagues, each one worse than the last.

Then Moses stood before a crowd of us. We were angry because Pharaoh had added more to our work than we could bear. More straw, more brick, that wicked man demanded from us. Moses stuttered till his brother Aaron spoke his words.

“Pharaoh will let the People go,” Aaron said, but he did not believe. None of us did. When you’re a slave and the Master has used you all up, what hope do you have?

Then the tenth plague bore down on all the households of that accursed land. The Angel of Death roved around that Passing-over night from midnight until dawn, going from house to house, killing Egyptian children. But our babies were spared. The Lord had told us to mark the doors of our houses with the blood of a lamb. This we had done.

That night the Nile ran red with despair. The Papas and the Mamas of Egypt grieved a grief as sad a lamentation as any heard by that River in its long years since the beginning of the world. It was their first-borns that Death snatched from their arms and sent to the grave. There were some fine Egyptians, but the Angel spared none of them.

Next we heard Pharaoh commanded Moses to take his scum and go.

“Go. Leave. I will not see you any more,” Pharaoh’s anger spoke and it spoke hard. “Get thee hence.”

His gods had failed him. Where was Horus when the Lord of the Two Lands, Ruler of Upper and Lower Egypt, needed him? His son, his only child, his heir by the woman whom he loved more than all his kingdom, his only son was dead. While the priests prepared the son of Pharaoh for burial in the Valley of the Kings, we rejoiced and danced in the streets. Our deliverance had finally come.

“We’re free,” my uncle Eleazar shouted. “Our jailers are jailers no more.”

The sun rose early that new day as we gathered in the Land of Goshen. Everywhere there were people, our people. There were so many of us that the streets buckled under the load of our weight. We had not known that our father Jacob had so many children.

Calmly standing above us, and before us, was Moses. He raised his staff of oak and turned toward the sea and led us out from that land of our slavery toward a new home in a Promised Land.