Respecting the awesome power of words!

mission

Up and Out

B Padgett Down the Creek (1)

Photo by Ben Padgett

 

      From the beginning of time,
    God’s self-revealing
  has had as its purpose,
  the collection of all creation
into a gathered community.

      Abram was told
    he and Sarai would be
  blessed in order to become
a blessing to the nations.

      The prophets reminded Israel
    that her chosenness was intended
  to be a beacon by which
all nations would come to know YHWH.

      Unfortunately, also
    from the beginning of time,
  we humans have taken
  God’s self-revelation
  to us to be a call
for elevation and exclusion.

      Like proverbial blind folks
    approaching an elephant
  from different directions,
  we hang-on to a tail,
  or leg, or trunk, or tusk,
  fully convinced that our perception
  and experience are both
exhaustive and exclusive.

      It’s past time to grow up
    and out of our spiritual infancy
  and adolescence,
  deepening our own faith’s roots
and reaching out its branches,

      so neither it nor we are threatened
    by the variety of spiritual paths
  into and through which
others have been called.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins
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Ramblin’ Soul

fullsizeoutput_214ePhoto by Jennie Roberts Jenkins

 

Twenty-eight years I've been a-preachin'.
It's still a practice not quite right. 
Nightmares are way too commonplace; 
so little sleep on Saturday night. 

   Lord, I was born a ramblin' man; 
   tryin' to make a living
   and doin' the best I can. 
   So when it's time for leavin'
   I hope you'll understand
   I was born a ramblin' man. 

You folks are looking for a pastor; 
someone to guide you on the way. 
And I've felt called to show you how
to let faith live through you each day. 

   Lord, I was born a ramblin' man; 
   tryin' to make a living
   and doin' the best I can. 
   So when it's time for leavin'
   I hope you'll understand
   I was born a ramblin' man. 

When all your hard work is completed,
and you've succeeded in your search, 
always remember this one simple truth: 
Folks in the mirror are the church! 

   Lord, I was born a ramblin' man; 
   tryin' to make a living
   and doin' the best I can. 
   So when it's time for leavin'
   I hope you'll understand
   I was born a ramblin' man. 

Lord I was born a rambling soul,
tryin' to make a living 
while working to keep us whole. 
So 'til it's time for leaving 
I hope you'll understand my role. 
I was born a rambling soul. 

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

 


Selah

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As an acrostic of storms
accumulates on our news feeds,
their names aligned
like Beelzebub's old-school Rolodex,
we beseech you, O God
of wind and water,
to breathe a calming counter-wind
and send sponge-clouds
to hold the deluge,
so rain is more gently squeezed out
in manageable and absorbable amounts.

As the earth trembles to our south,
gaping wide to swallow portions
of Central American civilization,
we pray for a tangible presence
of your sacred tether, O God.

Give hope to those digging
through the rubble
in search of life.
With and in your strong
but tender hand of comfort,
O prayer-catcher,
gently hold the tears
of those buried in the grief
of loved ones lost.

The forests are ablaze, not
with the light of your glory,
O God, but with a consuming
fire of destruction.

You, who created winds
that can be whipped into storms,
we implore you
to breathe extinguishing spirits
and send blanketing rains
upon the woods and neighborhoods,
shielding firefighters
and all life in peril's path.

May our prayers have hands,
feet, wallets, and hearts
that know not national boundaries,
speaking, acting, giving,
and breaking for all, near and far,
who find themselves
battered and unmoored.

Let us refract your love, O Lord,
through the dispersive prism of grace,
that all may know your rainbow promise.

Wind and water, earth and fire,
all elements of creation's glory;
so let it be imagined;
so let it be intoned;
so let it become.
Selah, selah, selah.

© 2017 Todd Jenkins

All in

zallin

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

Counting

 

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Yes, we feel numbers
being flung at us
from the budget,
as well as the calendar,
and the clock,
like the daggers
from a stage act,
and we swear we've never
seen the blindfolded wielder before.

But while we're bobbing and weaving,
clinging to the hope that
we'll make it to next year
and beyond with a modicum
of courage, sanity, and purpose,
I have a few
molasses-freezing questions;
ones that might unpack
a dream we don't remember.

They seem to me to be
the kind of questions
that our revered institutions
must face in this
particular time and place:

What if we found out
that the thing we financially
couldn't afford to do
was the very thing
we organizationally and existentially
couldn't afford not to do?

To put it another way:
Which costs matter most,
and how will we count them?
What risks must we take
in order to face
the future with integrity?

© 2017 Todd Jenkins

Easter Excerpts

cave

 

Matthew’s gospel has a whole lot of quaking going on. I want you to think about this quaking. Why is it here in the story? What does it mean?

27:50-53 …&…….  28:2

Sometimes it takes a little quaking to get us out of our ruts and our comfort zones, but our quaking differs considerably from God’s. Power’s shaking can’t hold a candle to love’s quaking.

I was going to race to the tomb,
but the women beat me to it.

I would have tried to roll away the stone,
but the angel-quake took care of that.

I might have raced
to tell the rest of the disciples,
assuming I wasn't among them,
behind locked doors,
quaking with fear.

The problem is
that most of these opportunities
are 2,000+ years gone.

Here’s the question I think both supersedes and surpasses our fascination with “Some bright morning, when this life is o’er, I’ll fly away.” It’s this:

“In the big scheme of things, if death doesn’t have the last word, what does this change about life?” That is, “What difference does resurrection make in your and my here & now?”

28:7 The great hope & promise of resurrection is “he is going ahead of you”. Where would we be willing to go, what would we be willing do to, and who would we be willing to become if we really believed that he is still going ahead of us?

28:8 Resurrection sets us free from having to be God & from the burden of keeping ourselves alive. THAT’s the bizarre combination of “fear and great joy” that the women feel as they leave to keep moving toward the place to which the risen Christ is calling them.

This Easter, I'm praying
for the courage to set aside
all the shoulda, coulda,
and wouldas of my life.

Then, the only things left
 to do are to:

look for him among the living;

& reflect his light
 into the pain, suffering,
and grief of others;

& believe I'm forgiven
so I can practice forgiving others;

& step aside so grace can expand
into the places I'd rather it didn't;

& share my broken-hearted love
in broken ways,
with other broken people;

& take a pinch of bread
and a sip of wine,
believing that sacraments
make him real in ways
beyond my fathoming;

& practice the laying on of ears,
listening to both the entombing
and the untombing stories of others.

& finally, to breathe –
just breathe –
when I cannot
muster the wherewithal
to do anything else;

This is what I'll do,
trusting it will be enough.

Yes, the reality of resurrection
comes to pass, not just
"Some bright morning,
when this life is o'er..."
but also each day
in the here and now;

not by my own acts
or righteousness,
but by the love of God
in, through,
and around us all.

Easter’s quake keeps trembling,
raising the hair on your arm
and the back of your neck,
raising hope in your heart,
raising your capacity for compassion,
raising you and I to levels of love
we’ve never imagined.

By the grace of God,
Easter's not
our burden to prove.
It's our gift to live.

© 2017 Todd Jenkins

Building

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That building we call
church isn't really a church.

It only becomes church
when people show up
to make church;

when people use it
to be and become church.

What difference would it make
for the community
if we, on the inside,
not only understood that,
but lived it more intentionally
on the outside?

© 2017 Todd Jenkins

 


For These Times

Prayers of the People for January 29, 2017.

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Photo by Lizzie Mazariegos

We live, O God,
 in a fearful and divided culture;
  separated, not just
   from other faiths and nations,
    but also from the people
     who live in our neighborhoods,
     work with us,
    go to school with us,
   and even from some of the ones
  with whom we break bread
on a regular basis.

Our faith's rich tradition
 calls us away
  from such anxiety and estrangement,
   reminding us that we are
    all in this together;
     and contrary to Cain's
   distancing of himself
  from Abel's buried body,
 we ARE our neighbors' keeper, 
in neighborhoods without borders.

We pray, O Lord,
 for guidance and wisdom,
  as we navigate our personal,
 community, state,
and national roadmaps.

Show us the narrow
 highway of love,
  even as it winds through
 the challenging mountains
of relationship, listening, and sacrifice.

Give us feathers on our skin,
 bones hollow yet strong,
  courage of the clouds,
   so we won't be pulled long
   earthward by gravity's fear,
  but freed instead to float
 on rising currents of hope,
higher into grace's atmosphere. 

If only it were so easy,
 O God, like poetry rolling
  off our tongues,
 whisking us to happily ever after;
but we know better.

Our lives bear the bruises
 of broken hearts;
 our families carry the scars
of shattered dreams.

Give us this day,
 O storytelling dream-catcher,
 both tenacity and tenderness
for the living of these days.

Give us the gifts we need
 to open the doors of welcome
  to a world hungry and thirsty
 to know that your story
is also their story.

These and all prayers
 we ask in the name
  of the one who fed, healed,
  and welcomed the broken
 to a table of abundance;
Jesus, the Christ. Amen.

© 2017 Todd Jenkins

 


Faithquake

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     Gone are the days
    when the sanctuary and
   classrooms under the steeple
  are the only venues open
 for the meeting
of the Sunday Civic Club.

       If the church is going
      to survive, we'll have
     to get serious about
    practicing our faith
   and cultivating a life
  of spiritual depth
and awareness.

      The struggle lies
     in the reality that many
    other weekend options 
   are capable of meeting
  the cursory expectations
 for which we've allowed
ourselves to settle.

   Some believe earthquakes
  can be a sign
 that God is at work.
“What’s shaking, folks?”

   That’s how God moves us
  toward new things.
 Why? Maybe it’s because
we are prone to digging in.

   As the earth shakes,
  we are being swallowed.
 Can we be raised
from the empty tomb?

 Will we?
#faithquake

© 2017 Todd Jenkins

 


Truth

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It is the only means
of resisting demagoguery.

Losing a reference point
for reality is a turbocharger
propelling us toward an abyss.

We must find venues
in which truth can be
spoken, understood, believed,
and acted upon.

Failure to do so
is not an option.

Truth-up;
don’t shut-up.

© 2017 Todd Jenkins