Those who’ve loved and left by way of death’s door are not really lost. I call to them, call on them, recall them in so many ways. The names of love are like decorations for the tree; ones I’ve had for years; ones whose stories have made me who I am. If I leave them in the attic or the basement, their memories will not stay in the box. They drift in and out of moments and conversations, deep and rich as ever; never nameless, no matter what, even when I struggle to not say them. I remember your name, and in its speaking, who I’ve been shapes both who I am and who I will become. I remember your name, and as it’s vocalized, life is breathed once more, in me, through me, beyond me. © 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
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
(Flat Creek Bottle Chapel, Flat Creek, TN) What child is this, whose manger lies beneath the dark, cold Bethl’em skies? Child of wonder, child of woe, child whose heart will not let go of pain and suf’ring, war and strife, of that which burdens all of life. Child whose heart breaks hard and true for that which God desires to do: bring light to darkness, salve to pain; bring hope to those who know but bane. Child whose simple gifts unfold grace’s promise ancient told: “Who you are and who you’ll be, were all designed at dawned eternity; live into hope, love into being, and Christmas’ gift you will be seeing!” Join angels’, shepherds’, Magi’s voice, for Emmanuel’s tent and pitching rejoice. May Christmas’ joy in your life abound; may you live its gift the whole year ‘round! © 2016 Todd Jenkins
Traveling mercies for you and all of your peeps this holiday season. May the road rise to meet you, the wind be at your back, the sun guide but not cook you, the rain fall gently, and all vehicular maniacs be providentially hindered. May the spirits of clarity, joy, and wisdom rest underneath you, woven as a strong but tender palm, so you can each take the psalmist's wings of the morning and reach the sea of sacred understanding and connection. © 2016 Todd Jenkins
Photo and cultivation by Jennie Roberts Jenkins
She spent weeks in the basement; that place of chilly darkness, where the unsightly pipes, wires, and vents cleave to the floor joists like a sacred labyrinth, serving as conduits for civilization's amenities, if not life itself; that lonely place to which nightmares, misbehaving children, and pathological adults are banished in tales of terror. There, in the hidden cavern of the psalmist, (139:15a) "... intricately woven in the depths of the earth." without benefit of photosynthesis, she has turned moisture and humus into indescribable beauty. No wonder her name is "Christmas Cactus", for she conjures life from shadows, and materializes hope from fear. "For unto us a child is born..." © 2016 Todd Jenkins