Flat Creek Bottle Chapel (Flat Creek, TN)
Politics and Faith often function as competing claims for the same prize: the soul of humanity. You can no more baptize one in the name of the other with a light sprinkling of rhetoric than you can sweeten the ocean with a few teaspoons of sugar. I'm not a professional student of the history of the USA's immigration policy, but the piecemeal agreements and policies that directly address and affect our neighbors to the south seem to be heavily weighted toward developing and protecting corporate interests, with little concern for how these economic realities impact the movement, safety, and cohesiveness of individual workers and their families. We need less people piecing together and quoting scattered verses of scripture, and more people whose intellectual anchor is sunk in our sacred texts' overarching theme. God's historical predilection for all whose circumstances are void of power, voice, influence, and control is peppered throughout scripture's narrative. Until that imperative is given a legitimate seat at the policy table, and the economic practices that perpetuate our ballooning resource imbalance are up for honest discussion, human and family need will continue to be unaddressed and unmet. © 2018 Todd Jenkins
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
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
Pray with your mouth, pray with your feet, pray on the rooftop, pray in the street. Pray 'til the end, pray from the start, pray with your hands, pray with your heart. Pray with your money, pray with your boat, pray with your muscle, pray with your vote. Pray with your breathing, pray with your mind, pray with your stories, pray with anything you find. Pray out of the water, pray out of the air, wherever and whatever, make sure it's all prayer. Pray when you arrive, pray while you're on the way; with all your being and doing, always and forever, pray. © 2017 Todd Jenkins
Photo by Gay Jenkins Howell
The truth of Adam and Eve, a friend told me, is "A fig leaf is no substitute for a therapist." So much here to feast on; so much here to run from; so much here too real to face, yet too close to reject. Let us dare to live and breathe in a naked now, O holy one, not as tawdry exploitation of bodies as objects, but as death-defying risk of abandonment to no less and no more than our light-reflecting and shadow-casting selves; for the truth of creation's story cannot be told without such revealing. Let both our poetry and our prose stand and fall as blood-pumping gamble of allowing the narrative of who we are to pulse out of our own woundedness, for it is in and from our stories that we'll live and die and be resurrected, not just in the end, but also in the breath of their telling. © 2017 Todd Jenkins
As finite beings immersed in a three-dimensional chronology, we know stories of the time before we existed, we catch glimpses of moments we're in, and we are sometimes haunted by the time when we will no longer be. Mortality's question knocks regularly, "When and how will I die?" Instead of ruminating on circumstances of our death, what if we poured ourselves into the questions of life? *For whom will I have a chance to breathe and speak love today? *Where and when can I reflect grace today? *How can my modeling of forgiveness tilt the world toward hope today? Answering these, and questions like them, will bring us to life in the moment. This is the promise of resurrection for and in the present. © 2017 Todd Jenkins
To the person for whom there's never enough, there's always suspicion others want your stuff. The one who is consumed with greed, will never be touched by hunger and need. If comparison's the game by which you thrive, the train of joy will never arrive. Look at what you have, instead of what's lacking; it’s an important step to send discontent packing. Seeing the big picture is a form of art that fashions a glad and generous heart. © 2017 Todd Jenkins
Photo by Lee Lindsey McKinney
Fear divides, intent on conquering with its, “Vive la différence!” Love unites, earnestly calling us together, “Vive la similarité!” What matters is not the color of our skin, the roots of our faith, or the nation of our origin, but whether privilege can truly be acknowledged, voluntarily relinquished, and power bestowed with grace, so long-held shackles can be hammered into step-ladders of hope. It is past time for us to work better, together, nourishing and quenching a world hungry for dignity and thirsty for respect. © 2017 Todd Jenkins
Sometimes, the rhythm of Clement Moore’s 1822 classic drops by for an afternoon, asking for some new verses; and sometimes, I can oblige.
Time seems to fly; it's the middle of December, and it's all we can do to try and remember the reason we're here in this time and place; the reason we're breathing and taking up space. The world has its answers; they sound so attractive. It says to grab stuff and always be active. In spite of commercials and mass advertising, that dog won't hunt, and it's not surprising that trying to follow this wearying path just doesn't add up, no matter how good your math. Somewhere deep inside from the day of our birth we know whose we are and what gives us worth. It won't come from power or things piled up high, but grace overflowing and hope in the eye. We're here on the planet to care for each other, to offer ourselves for a sister or brother. This thing we call love that fills every heart ❤ is what drives us all, and the place where we start. It's not what we have, where we work, who we know; it's respect that we give and love that we show. This holiday season and all our lives long, let's listen and share, it's what makes us strong. Stronger as friends, stronger as neighbors, strong as we share the fruit of our labors. Let hope be unwrapped in your breathing and living; let love overflow in receiving and giving. No matter how crazy, no matter how wild, never ever forget that you're God's precious child. © 2016 Todd Jenkins