Here we lay, prostrate — not because it’s our choice — but because the kick in the gut of this teenager’s suicide has knee-capped our expectations of reality, and our dreams of how it’s supposed to be. Cower, with our lips in the dirt, or crane our necks toward starless heavens, seem to be our only options. If it’s all the same with you, O one whose claims to fame include the entirety of the cosmos’s creation, I think we’ll grovel for a while, grinding our teeth against the grit of what might have been — what could have been. After our molars have been worn down, long in the tooth on grief, when we once again find the emotional wherewithal to turn our spirits toward the heavens, we pray you’ll hold us in your strong but tender palm, opening to us the vast universe of hope, undergirding us with the fabric of love, washing our tear-stained cheeks from the fountain of grace. If you won’t do that, don’t bother to attempt anything else. Selah. © 2018 Todd Jenkins
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
Photo 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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