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Race

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    It's really just a contest
    to see who can arrive faster
    or with more support;

  so when we shoehorn it
  into biology, we're often
  escalating the competition,
  by declaring superiority
  of one group over another.

Suffixing imaginary genetic match
with "ism" isn't always about
old fashioned hate spewed
in the light of day.

  Sometimes it's much more subtle:
  an unspoken framework
  for socioeconomic and cultural mores
  tilting everything in favor
  of predetermined medalists.

    We don't have to ask for it
    or even recognize it
    to be complicit.

  All we have to do
  is deny or ignore it.

It will march on,
grinding unchosen ones
into dust, while anesthetizing
the rest to seductive
and powerful privilege.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins
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Bam!

IMG_3734Photo by Owen Todd Jenkins

 

Our culture of violence didn’t appear
like 4th of July fireworks,
bursting on the scene in technicolor.

It was more like Virginia creeper,
slowly suctioning its way
up the facade of society,
one wall of war,
one generation of weapons,
one identified enemy at a time.

It thrived when lethal force was baptized
as the answer to differences,
legitimizing an economy freighted
on escalating weaponization.

Under the guise of order and law,
we not only sanctioned it,
we also sanitized it,
so that, in our eyes,
it was not gruesome,
but glorious.

Soon, it became the framework
for much of our entertainment.
We praised our children
for emulating it in their play;
we secretly desired to be its heroes.

The only time we notice it —
the only time we object —
is when the tables are turned,
and it’s used against us
by ones who perennially
feel its boot on their necks.

By then, it’s too late.

It courses through our veins,
a toxic cocktail of rage and blame,
embalming our souls
for useless photo-op preservation,
as if it’ll somehow matter
when they say,
with venom oozing
from sharply cornered sneers,
“But they look so nice,
so respectable!”

Lord, send legions
of your angels,
for we have dispensed
with most everyone else!

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

 


Risking All

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Faith is a journey
across time, space, and life;
a continual lesson
that challenges us
to move from holding on
to letting go,
from the desperate air-clutch
of free-falling
to the peace and comfort
of being held.

It questions our assumptions
and the validity of our fears.

In a culture of consumption,
acquisition, and storage,
it dares us to experience
the transformative grace
of productivity, distribution,
and restoration.

It asks us to risk acting
with God’s generosity
in a world that refuses
to believe that anyone
cares about or knows us
any more or better
than we do ourselves.

It is in these selfless moments
and acts
that we catch joy-filled glimpses
of our true nature.

Faith is the gift
for which we are created,
the purpose of our existence,
the primal mystery
for which our deepest memory longs.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

Full Flow

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Greed is total surrender
to the fear that,
despite today’s sufficiency,
tomorrow will leave us resourceless;
and therefore,
too much is never enough.

It’s a frenetic piling-on
creating utter breathlessness.

We are (meaning “I am,
and I invite you
to confess your complicity.”)
slow to recognize
that the ability
to tightly hold things
with our tiny hands and
the small part
of our mind and soul
that value such grasping,
is the greatest impediment
to accepting all that for which
God has created us.

Hope is the antidote,
as holy respiration,
allowing us to breathe
deeply and slowly,
palms upturned and open,
so that more of who we’re
meant to be can settle on us,
even wash over us.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

 


3 Rivers

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Life consists of a journey
between and beyond three rivers;
the first is named Patience;
another, Preparation;
the third, Perseverance.

The first river has
neither bridges
nor is it fordable.
It asks you to wait
while someone constructs
a way to cross.
Maybe, you become the builder.

The second river also seems
impossible to cross.
It wants you to be sure
you know how to swim
before you jump in.

The third river is no more
crossable than the first two.
It wants to know if you're
hungry enough to jump,
and trusting enough to float.

The rivers already know you.
How are you
getting to know them?

© 2017 Todd Jenkins

 


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

 


Wound Collector

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His attention and memory
are legendary; both honed
to a steely edge
by the whetstone
of self-love’s dearth
and the absence
of self-worth.

  Whenever he perceives
  even the slightest slight,
  the moment is carefully
  catalogued and stored
  for future reference.

    The more publicly
    he is humiliated,
    the more driven he becomes
    to make a spectacle
    of his retribution.

      Lying awake
      into the wee hours
      of the morning,
      he plots his revenge,

    fully convinced
    that this time —
    in contrast to countless
    others in the past —
    retribution will soothe
    the fire in his soul
    instead of fueling it.

  Day after day,
  year after year,
  relationship after relationship,
  he gathers his scars,

and fills the cemetery
of his heart
with the bones of those
he’s sure he’s slain.

  Night after night,
  year after year,
  soul after soul,
  the star-flinger reconnects
  bone to bone,
  sinew to sinew,
  flesh to flesh,

    resurrecting crucified ones
    into a hope
    that still eludes
    the wound collector.

© 2017 Todd Jenkins

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