Photo by Owen Jenkins
How much more has our access to a virtual world exacerbated our isolation and identity of both other and self as stranger? We are, are we not, e-strangers; limited-character replies passing in the night, hell-bent and fear-rent on steaming full speed ahead so we don’t dare take on anything, much less anyone? Neighborhooding, friending, working, voting, and churching ourselves into social, economic, and religious homogeneity are not the answer; they are the problem. Open the door — the actual physical one — and break out the food — the kind that satisfies real human hunger. We must gather ‘round a table where all have a seat and none are on the menu. This is our only chance; our only path away from mutually assured destruction; our only road to hope. © 2018 Todd Jenkins
Esse quam videri – literally, “To be, rather than to seem.” is the North Carolina state motto. It has also been translated, “Be who you are.” If ever there was a “be and not just seem” one, it was God-with-skin-on from Nazareth, whose parents named him “Jesus.” I spent most (okay, pretty much ALL) of my first 30 years focused on proving other people wrong. That is, when someone said, “You can’t/don’t know how to do that.” (because you’re left-handed, too small/weak, young, from a small town, not educated enough, etc.), I set out to prove them wrong. Even though I became quite adept at this, one day, I realized my life choices were based, not on any inner sense of purpose or drive, but merely on competing against the expectations of others. I’ve spent the last 28+ years learning to let go of that need to prove my enoughness to anyone, including myself. Wilderness, whether it’s mountains, lakes, desert, or somewhere else, is a place where the taunting voices can most fully be shed, giving me ears to hear and heart to focus on my own breath, and helping me recognize where and how my own worth is validated, not in the meeting or defeating of others’ expectations, but through the defining and developing of self in mutually healthful service to the world. Thanks be to God! © 2018 Todd Jenkins
Mother Earth hopes, at the core of her molten magma, that we will soon wake up to the divine declaration, proclaimed at the universe’s dawning, that we are all connected, and our purpose is to pull together, instead of apart, so we all experience a full unfolding of dignity, worth, and respect. Otherwise, we’ll become little more than momentary fireworks in a recalculation of global proportions. © 2018 Todd Jenkins
Photo by DeEtta Harris Jenkins
I’d offer you a fluffy basketful of thoughts and prayers, but I’m pretty sure you’ve had a bate of shallow nothingness. I’d offer you unfettered second amendment and total gun confiscation, but I can tell we’ve all suffered enough from artificial binary limitations. I’d offer you religious extremism and mental illness, but it seems like there’s already a glut of selective blame and projection. In digging through the closet, in search of something else to offer, there, at the back, I find an old table and lots of chairs, all covered with cobwebs. Let’s take them out, dust them off, and all pull up a seat. Let’s leave the bank accounts and the campaign contributions at home, and have a genuine discussion about who needs what and how to make changes that’ll significantly slow down the filling up of cemeteries with the bullet-riddled bodies of our loved ones. Let’s let everyone have a say, and then commit ourselves to making this a safer place to live together. © 2018 Todd Jenkins
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
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