We use the word holy to name that which we know primarily as pure, powerful, and other; mystery, to describe that which hasn't yet revealed itself to us; and sacred, to define experiences in which we've been so close to the holy and mysterious that we've felt breath on our necks. Do we ever experience any of these anywhere other than in the dark? Try to help me remember this the next time clouds obscure the moon and stars, and my knees begin to knock. © 2018 Todd Jenkins
(a preacher’s dream/hope for a new year)
Some folks are great at telling stories with their mouths. Theirs are the most detailed and most accurate. They are also the longest and often the most boring, stumbling and fumbling over facts irrelevant to both the point of the story and their listeners. Other people are great at regaling you with their own ears, keenly aware of how their tales make them appear in the eyes of their audience. Whatever else you’ve learned when they are finished, you now see them in a more ethereal light. Help me, O Lord, learn how to unfold narratives using borrowed ears, so my listeners hear, not me or my most presentable self or their pretend selves, but their deepest, richest selves in the story. Even more, let their ears tell me how to verbally reveal glimpses of grace, calling us all to a hope that is deeper, broader, more connective, and more accessible than before vocal chords strummed and ear drums beat in synchronized rhythm. © 2018 Todd Jenkins
When I see them appear in the corner of an eye, it makes me wonder what year they’re from; what story is long buried beneath the surface, in the attic or the basement or the back of a huge wardrobe, where someone thought they’d never be found; but something happens; a series of seemingly unrelated events: a song sung in just the way you remembered; or the wafting essence of bread being baked or the scent a favorite cuisine you haven’t had in years; or the way the light comes through the trees; or some other dormant trigger. There we find ourselves, tears flowing like an artesian well, conjuring up emotional baggage from eons ago, begging us to uncork vintage love, pain, and grief, and sip our way through a story of healing, if not resurrection. © 2017 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
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
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
The holidays are open season on economic greed; no bag limits, and no limitations on baiting. If you venture out (literally or virtually), you're fair game, and the gifts of family and presence may be threatened by the marketing of presents. To keep your perspective: hug, listen to, and spend time with those who matter; if you buy something, do it by choice, not because of seasonal expectation; buy local, instead of feeding the corporate beast, and find a way to shop on any day but Thanksgiving or Black Friday. That is all. Carry on! © 2017 Todd Jenkins
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
Our world, O God, is dark-averse. We are so afraid of what’s in the closet, under the bed, and in the dark, that we have created artificial light for everywhere; battery powered, solar powered, keychain flashlights, cell phone flashlights; we have become a never-without-light society. Even our religion succumbs to this blinding, full-solar effect, attempting to protect us from ever seeing a shadow. Each day we gather around your Word and your table, remind us of all that can be gained from the dark, and from recognizing and accepting our shadow selves. Remind us of all the times when we couldn’t detect your presence in our full-solar world, but finally saw, heard, tasted, and felt you in the quietude of our midnights. Speak your truth into the varied lumens of our reality, and give us courage to take the next step with more faith in you than in our flashlights; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. © 2017 Todd Jenkins
Photo by Ashley Goad
The church marquee read, "We will all have eternal life. Where will you choose to spend yours?" as if either eternity itself, or the choice we make regarding it, or both, are located somewhere in the (distant?) future. Eternity is not just a future proposition. By definition, it extends in both directions across the time continuum for infinity, beginning long before any of us breathed our first, and continuing long after any of us breathe our last. The more relevant question, then, is not how WILL we spend eternity, but how ARE we already spending the part of it during which we have life and breath? We can accept judgmentalism and fear, or we can choose grace and hope. One choice feels like hell’s death already sucking the life out of us; the other, like paradise being born, day by day. © 2017 Todd Jenkins