Respecting the awesome power of words!

grace

Reflection

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      Advent is an annual festival
    remembering us into
  the story of love’s
complete arrival in the flesh.

        Once written into the narrative,
      we have to choose
    between accepting
  what has chosen us,
or not.

      There exists within the human soul
    a freedom to choose
  the slavery of ignoring,
rejecting, and abandoning love.

      It is a painful, diminishing choice
    that, once made,
  can only be overcome
by the very thing not chosen.

        Those possessed by love
      have the antidote
    to undo the curse,
  but they can only do so
by rejecting reciprocity

    and, instead,
  reflecting the image
of the gift’s giver.

© 2017 Todd Jenkins

 

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Prayer for the Holidays

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We pray, O God, for all those who enter the holiday season with a sense of overwhelming sadness: those whose sadness is brought on by heightened grief of the loss of a loved one; those who are sad because the holidays bring acute awareness of family or relational dysfunction or discord; those whose sadness comes from an inability to create the Norman Rockwell life that marketers and advertisers use to create a restless desire to purchase; those whose emotions are overcome by the incongruence of life in the first eleven months of the year, or the painful difference between the “haves” and the “have nots”; and those whose sadness comes from any other reason. Help us, O Lord, as your children, to be keenly aware and ready to open our ears and our hearts to those who are anything but happy for the holidays, through Jesus Christ our Lord…..

We pray, O God, for all those whose holidays will be consumed with the overwhelming task of rebuilding their homes and their lives: those whose neighborhoods have been ravaged by hurricane, flood, tornado, earthquake, tsunami, fire, or other disaster; those whose neighborhoods and lives have been turned to rubble by monster machinery of war. Help us, as your children, to have the grace to offer who we are and what we have been given to alleviate their suffering; through Jesus Christ our Lord…..

We pray, O God, for all those whose holidays will be consumed with worries about health and wellness, for themselves or someone near and dear: those whose holiday appetites will be diminished by chemotherapy; those whose holiday schedules will be filled with radiation, physical therapy, or booked for surgery; those whose glasses will be raised, not to toast, but to chase down handfulls of pills which they hope will extend the quality and/or quantity of their days. Help us, O Lord, as your children, to support, by your grace, all efforts at health and healing, through Jesus Christ our Lord…..

We pray, O God, for all those who are leaders, in our congregation, our community, our state, our nation, and in the world: those who make decisions about the direction of our congregation’s ministry and mission; those who direct funding, support, programs and protection for this city, this county, this state, this nation, and for all nations. Give us the courage to demand and support leaders who are willing to risk and sacrifice as much for peace and justice as we ask our military to risk and sacrifice in support of war; through Jesus Christ our Lord…..

In the midst of this Advent season, O Lord, give us unfailing hope through your unimaginable promise; give us unquenchable joy through your gift of deliverance; through Jesus Christ our Lord….

Now hear us, O God, as we join our hearts and voices together to pray the prayer that Jesus taught his disciples, as we pray together….. Our father……

© 2017 Todd Jenkins


The Beginning Is Near

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To genuinely observe Advent,
without being pulled
into the cultural tsunami
of commercial Christmas,
is to participate
in the eternal plan of Grace.

It is to rest in the promise
of divine deliverance
with at least a modicum
of hope that the gift will arrive,
not only with more
than sufficient efficacy,
but also before
the nick of time.

It is to admit
that we are fully incapable
of generating the gift
of incarnation on our own,
and we are therefore
entirely dependent
on both God's mercy and timing.

It is, at one and the same time,
both an exhilarating journey
and a risky adventure.  

© 2017 Todd Jenkins

 


Focus

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Photo by Mark Saline

 

Focusing on Messiah’s
future return —
either trying to do
all the right things
to prepare for it
or seeking to discern
the arrival signs,

is the surest way
to miss God’s full
and complete presence
in the here and now.

Stop looking
for the end times
and begin more fully
living and participating
in the joy
of the present time.

THIS is how we experience
the heavenly realm.

Miss it now, and we’ll
not only be clueless
when the time comes;

we’ll also have wasted
the precious breath
and heartbeat
of each of our days.


Advent’s message
is spot on;
the beginning is near!

Let us dare
to begin again,
and again.

© 2017 Todd Jenkins

 


Tumbling

tumbling

Grace is even, and
often especially,
in the shards of mirror
embedded in my knees,
not by way
of my humble genuflection,

but from the face-first tumbles
I make while racing
toward the illusion
of my self-orchestrated
efforts at salvation.

Grace is what calls me
away from an obsession/focus
on individual and future escape,
toward others, and
into an overflowing life
of resurrection
in the here and now.

© 2017 Todd Jenkins

 


Live It

fallA sermon riff on Matthew 23:1-12

 

The Pharisees’ talk 
is miles ahead of their walk,
their show far outpaces their go,
a saint is one thing they ain't.

Jesus differentiates between
the ones who are just
a flash in their own pan
and the ones the light shines through.

They're only platitudes
when our speaking
of them far exceeds
our living of them;

when what we say
is incongruent
with what we live;

when the verbal art
we paint is light years
beyond the canvas
of our ways;

when our talk and walk
are a bait and switch;
when we voice grace
but breathe fear.

The Communion of Saints includes
all those who ask forgiveness
when they live transactionally;
all those who choose
to see beyond binary thinking;
all those who find ways
to allow the transformational power
of grace to both enter in and pour out
of their broken, cracked places.

When the power of resurrection
seeps into our brokenness
at all the thin places
and thin times of our lives,

it is so radical and transformational
that the transactional world
cannot deal with it.

We begin to let go of all the pretending,
all the perfection, comparison, competition,
scarcity, fear, blaming, hoarding, ego;
all of the things by which
we had been controlled.

We begin to play by different rules.
The old rules, hard and fast
as they are, become insignificant;
not because we are above them,
but because we have been
moved beyond them.

We can no longer see and act
in binary fashion, checking off lists
of things we will or won't do
because they are right or wrong.

We are both under the control
of and set free by something
much bigger than law.

We are living through Love,
which turns out to be a messy,
complicated rule that refuses
to be exclusively held by anyone
or nailed to any particular place or time.

This Love is a gift.
We didn't earn it.
We don't own it.
We can't choose who deserves it,
because nobody does,
including us.

Yet it's been given to us anyway;
not just parceled out to us stingily,
but poured out on us extravagantly;

given to us so that
we can let its gift and power
soak all the way
to the marrow of our bones,

flushing out all hurt and hatred,
and all other lies of "not enough"
all falsehoods of “not good enough”;

given to us so that
we can reflect it to others;
so that we can share it
with everyone we meet.

Unlike all that other stuff
that controlled us,
this Love shrinks and dies
when we try to hoard it,
but grows and blossoms
when we give it away.

This is our mission –
our life's purpose
from this day forward –

to let the rule of Love
free us to respond with grace,
not because anyone has earned it,
but because we are all
dying without it.

© 2017 Todd Jenkins

Reach

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Yesterday's festive sun-gazers
give little indication
of their recent glory,
as stooped and tired looking
as octogenarian day laborers
deprived of their pension.

We are all little more
than raisins in the sun,
as Mr. Hughes reminded us,
subject to so much pressure
from within, without;

fragile dreams escaping
into the night, or not,
whose purpose and connection
are surely, purely gift,
unless and until the bubble’s burst
by hate unleashed, and fear cursed.

Dream on; dream until
your dreams come true.
Shine, smile, stretch, reach,
as long as you’re rooted
in the garden of life,
if for no other reason
than someone else needs
to see you hope out loud.

© 2017 Todd Jenkins

Respite

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Hate rallies beneath its banners
of battles lost to hope and humanity,
frantically waving its flags,
furiously stoking fires of division,
refusing to let go,
doggedly extending the war,
unable to surrender to grace.

Together, we must all
keep marching toward
a narrative that brings us
to a place of peace
that passes understanding.

Until we arrive at such
a sacred respite,
the fighting will be interminable.

© 2017 Todd Jenkins

DBV

zDBV

 

      Death by violence;
    it is the trademark
  of a culture predicated
on consumption as arrival
  and competition for survival.

      The socioeconomic sausage grinder
    uses people like inanimate ingredients
  in a secret family recipe,
where nothing matters
  but the finished product,
    and the only ones not
      on the menu are those
    who’ve schemed or entitled
  their way to a table for one.

      When you hear the engine groan
    for lack of fodder, and
  squeal for lack of lubricant,
be sure to check the list
  of ingredients needed
    to satisfy the beast.

      No matter the euphemism
    behind which it's cloaked,
  if what's really called for
are the bones and blood
  of human lives,
    maybe it's time to build
      a more just machine;

      time to confess
    that stockpiled weaponry,
  war’s machinery,
tilted and justified incarceration,
  and border-based enslavement
    aren’t really meant
      to keep us safe or
    help the weak defend
  and provide for themselves,
but to keep power mongers on top. 

      Maybe it’s time to take
    this kind of sausage
  off the menu, and
search our collective souls
  for more sustainable fare.

            © 2017 Todd Jenkins

Weeping

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While Ezra prayed and made confession, 
weeping and throwing himself down 
before the house of God, 
a very great assembly of men, 
women, and children gathered 
to him out of Israel; 
the people also wept bitterly. 
[Ezra 10:1]

In weeping, our hearts
are wrung out
of all that stands
between us and our true selves,
between us and our neighbors,
between us and God.

In every province, 
wherever the king’s command 
and his decree came, 
there was great mourning 
among the Jews, with fasting 
and weeping and lamenting, 
and most of them lay 
in sackcloth and ashes.
[Esther 4:3]

Our squeezed-out spirits
can then absorb the gifts
we need for the lives
to which we’ve been called.

Jesus began to weep.
[John 11:35]

© 2017 Todd Jenkins