Respecting the awesome power of words!

Posts tagged “community

Whataboutism

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Lord, deliver us
from whataboutism
in all its forms,
both used for or against
the ideas/people safely ensconced
within the parameters
of our confirmation bias.

  Dare us, as humans
  on this journey together,
  to neither deflect
  from the present
  nor shirk responsibility
  for the past.

    Instead, we pray,
    give us courage
    and fortitude
    to do the right thing
    now, and do it next,
    again and again,

    without the need
    to point toward
    another person, place,
    and time
    where fear, hatred,
    and ignorance prevailed,
    as if that were, somehow,
    an excuse for
    serial repetition
    of the same, similar,
    or a counterbalancing stupidity.

  Help us, O holy one,
  to find our footing
  on the Grace Highway,
  somewhere in the broad lane
  between the conviction
  of history’s blindness
  and the overflowing fountain
  of divine mercy.

Give us, O God,
compassionate strength
and peace in our marrow
to plumb the depths
of our connected condition,
that we may climb,
together,
toward a road higher
and more sacred
than the one on which
we currently find ourselves.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins
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Color Me Here

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Whatever choices you have
in your box of crayons;
whatever their condition —

worn down to a nubbin,
paper peeled and tattered,
broken in half —

take the one
whose hue reflects presence
and absorbs distance;

use it to fill in the spaces
between the lines
of the real-life drawing
that are me.

However that appears,
it’s who I want to be.

When words have
run their course,
for better or worse,
and nothing’s left
worth saying,

I’ll sit with you 
in the silence,
as we remember
what we can of yesterday,
as we struggle
to breathe through the weight
of today’s hurt,
as we hope our way
into tomorrow.

Yes, take that crayon
and color me here.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

Hunger

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We thought that accumulating
a treasury of resources,
regardless of the cost to others
and to the planet,
would somehow soothe
the hunger in our souls.

What we failed to recognize
was the depth of need
in our marrow,
and the reality
that this ravenous maw’s desire
could only be satisfied
by listening to and integrating
the narratives of other people
into our own stories.

Thus, the hospitality
of open ears and hearts
becomes the divine gift
through which
lives are intertwined,
famine is abated,
and the cosmos’ heartbeat
is extended.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

Glory’s Spread

J48NQ0yGRy2wfnhhvJnmcQPhoto by Jennie Roberts Jenkins

Our Invitation to the Table 
at FPC Greeneville, TN, 
on November 11, 2018, 
tying together Mark 12:38-44 
(exposing the scribes’ power mongering 
and the widow’s mite) 
and  the Table.

 

Yes, I, too, thought
  this was about
  the propagation of a —
  if not THE — divine attribute;
specifically about how I
  was called to participate
  in sacred — if not holy — ways,
  in slathering divine beauty
  all over the global landscape;

until she conjured up
  Eucharistic images,
  and even snapshots
  of everyday tables
(which are, by the way,
  anything but ordinary)
  to which I have been invited:

ones where bread and wine
  have been prepared,
  ones where love and forgiveness
  have been dared,
  ones where grace and mercy
  have been shared.

That’s where I began to see
  how little of this
  is about my worshipful mind
  and the sacred music I sing,
  and how much of it’s about
  when and where I’m kind,
  and the hope I reflect and bring;

and how often I miss
  its rich nutritional feast
  by overlooking
  the outcast and the least;
and when I gorge and stuff,
  how the processed junk
  is never enough.

And there before us
  rests glory’s spread,
  at table where Christ
  is sacred head;
meal not so rich
  with scarcity’s gap,
  as fullness poured
  into each lap;
always room
  for one more there;
help your neighbor
  pull up a chair.

We’re all invited
  as we’re able;
one and all,
  come to the table!

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

Division

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I can’t remember
the exact year in school
when my teacher introduced
the concept of division.

I do remember, however,
that it was always about things —
apples, cookies, toys —
and never about people;

a mathematical tool
for equally parceling out
specific things:

Your mom cooked 72 Halloween cookies
for you to share at school.
You have 24 students
in your class.
How many cookies
should each student receive?

There was never a word problem
that required dividing people;
never a question like:

Of the 24 students in your class,
18 are from Christian families
whose parents were born
in the USA,
and whose racial identity is white.
The remainder are
of other religions,
and/or were born of foreign citizens,
and/or are of another ethnicity.
Of what fraction/percentage
of your classmates
should you be afraid?

Nope.
I never learned to divide people.

In fact, my faith guides me
to add them:

You shall not wrong or oppress
a resident alien,
for you were aliens
in the land of Egypt.
You shall not abuse
any widow or orphan.
(Exodus 22:21-22)

“Which of these three,
do you think,
was a neighbor to the man
who fell into the hands
of the robbers?”
He said, “The one
who showed him mercy.”
Jesus said to him,
“Go and do likewise.”
(Luke 10:36-37)

... you shall love
the Lord your God
with all your heart,
and with all your soul,
and with all your mind,
and with all your strength.’
The second is this,
‘You shall love your neighbor
as yourself.’
There is no other commandment
greater than these.”
(Mark 12:30-31)

This is God’s people-math.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

Together

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If I told you we’re together,
would you believe you weren’t alone?
If I gave you space for breathing,
could we make it on our own?

If your tears fell on my shoulder,
could we find a way to talk?
If I listened to your story,
could we find a way to walk?

If we steady one another
when the road is steep and long,
can we journey toward a village
where we know that we belong?

If the rain falls hard upon us,
so you cannot see my face,
will you listen to the whisper
of the wind as it speaks grace?

If the sun slips from the mountain,
and stars hide behind a cloud,
will you tilt your ear toward heaven
as your name is called aloud?

When I tell you we’re together,
please believe we’re not alone.
When you’re given space for breathing,
we will not be on our own.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

Neighborhood

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The universe is a neighborhood
into which we've been poured.

Fear convinces us to shrink,
control, protect, and gate our lives.

Grace welcomes us to expand,
release, free, and open ourselves to love.

The former choice leads
to the creation of enemies and despair;
the latter, to the creation
of neighbors and hope.

To whose invitation
are you responding today?
How's that working out for you?

When people are used
and things are loved,
we become tight-fisted
possessives of our possessions,
and our fearful exclamation is,
"There goes the neighborhood!"

When people are loved
and things are used,
we are able to become gently-holding
stewards of possessions,
and our joyful exclamation is,
"Here comes our neighbor!"

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

Prophetic Courage

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Without separation
  and distance,
  truth will not
be spoken to power.

When the church’s bread
  is buttered by empire,
  the gospel’s call
    to interconnection
    with those at and
  beyond the margins
  is lost,
as are the church
and its members:

🎼I once was found
  but now I’m lost;
  could see, but now
    I’m blind.
    Dear Lord, help me
  to count the cost;
  prophetic
courage find!🎼

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

 


Lamb

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Grace can be
as gentle as a lamb,
especially when
it is holding
the fragments
of human brokenness;

but it is not always
a Kumbaya-fest,
especially for those of us
who imagine ourselves
on the upper end
of our social, cultural,
economic, and theological
systems and institutions.

Within its gentleness
lies an equally-present
tenacious insistence
on justice — especially
on behalf of those
on and beyond the margins — 
without concern
for the maintenance
or preservation
of privilege, power,
or possessions.

The gentle giant
will not be denied.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

“Produce to Share”

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   This was the sign 
in a church’s fellowship hall. 

   It was summer, 
AKA gardening season, 
   so I knew, 
from my experience, 
   that the first word 
was accented 
   on the first syllable. 

   Zucchini, tomatoes, okra,
and all sorts of vegetable delectables
   would come and go from this spot,
offered from abundance,
   received with gratitude.

   But then my inner wordsmith 
asked its 
   “What if?” question. 

   What if this was a verb, 
not a noun? 

   What if it 
was divine instruction 
   on life’s deepest meaning? 

   What if it was 
a holy critique 
   of cultures and economies, 
pulling us together, 
   rather than apart, 

   reminding us 
that we are, 
   first, last, and foremost, 
created for community? 

   What if our whole lives –
not just our gardens –
   are designed for us
to pro-DUCE to share?

   But wanting to justify himself,
he asked Jesus,
   “And who is my neighbor?”
(Luke 10:29)

© 2018 Todd Jenkins