Respecting the awesome power of words!

Posts tagged “faith

One Foot

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Shadows cast themselves
across the path,
entirely convinced
they are chains,
if not barbed wire,
fully capable
of strangling all movement
in any direction.

But I, vessel
of light and dark,
fire and ice,
have burst
across their boundaries
time and again,
brimming with hope
in a sea of despair,

not because
of who I am,
but because
of what love’s done;
not because
of what I’ve done,
but because
of who grace is.

Let us,
both you and I,
break into
an all-out sprint,
flinging ourselves across
these penumbral barriers
like Olympians
at the finish line,
leaning into
and breaking the tape
of victory’s wreath.

This is the courage
by which we 
who’ve plumbed
the depths of despair
keep putting one foot
in front of the other,

because our deeps
keep telling us
there’s not only light
beyond the valley
of the shadow of darkness,
but life
in its richest manifestation.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

 

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Unholy Week

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The adventuresome among us
would like to take a zip line
from the Triumphal Entry,
or maybe even from all the way back
at the mount of Transfiguration,
to the empty tomb.

The more acrophobic among us
would prefer an enclosed cable car
for the quick and easy journey.

But there is no such shortcut.

Lent is a journey we make,
year after year, not because
it’s fun or enjoyable,
or even because we want to,
but because we understand
that it’s the only way;

the only way to find ourselves
on the far side of crucifixion,
in the garden, staring
at the rolled-away stone
and the empty tomb,
incredulous as much because
of Jesus’ resurrection as because
we’ve been forgiven and freed.

Lent is the place where we go
to die, because we feel,
deep in our innards,
that dying is the only path
to being raised to new life.

Lent is the place and the time
when we prepare ourselves
to admit that we are not only
among the Unholy Week palm-wavers
shouting, “Ho-she-annah!
Save us NOW!”
but also among the angry crowd
shouting, “Crucify him!”

Lent is the journey.
Holy Week is upon us.
Now is the time.
Let us dare to claim
its courage.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

 


Anyone

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And a voice thundered
from the clouds —
or was it a whisper in the dark —
or maybe both,

     “I love you, 
     each and every one of you, 
     so much that I refuse 
     to let anything 
     stand between us. 

    Even if you are so disbelieving 
    of this love and so afraid 
    of its unconditionality 

   that you kill the very flesh 
   of mine that I sent 
   to reveal it, 

  I will not give up on you, 
  but will keep pouring grace 
  like an everflowing stream. 

 It will flow through, around, 
 and into every crevice 
 of your life, whether 
 you’re paying attention or not, 
 until one day, you finally 
 give up on all the lesser gods 
 of competition, comparison, 
 amassing, distancing, 
 fortressing, and separation.”

“This is how much God loved the world: 
He gave his Son, his one and only Son. 
And this is why: so that no one 
need be destroyed; 
by believing in him, 
anyone can have 
a whole and lasting life.”
John 3:16 (MSG)

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

Fragmented

IMG_4208Photo by Lee Lindsey McKinney

 

   I grew up mostly with
   a staunchly convinced
   intellectual faith
   until the day an inability
   to wrap my brain around
   the death of my mother
   cracked my hard head
   into fragments.

  My heart caught all the pieces,
  as they tumbled down,
  and tenderly held them
  until they could be reassembled.

 Now, I spend my days sharing
 stories of crumbled dreams
 that have been resurrected
 into pictures of hope;
 images we never
 could have fathomed
 with our solidified minds
 and plans alone.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

 


Prayer

cornflower

 

    As I watched video from a group
   of people offering a vitriolic prayer
  for violent success in their
imminent encounter with others
  who were identified as different,
   I contemplated the definition
    and purpose of such supplication.

  Perhaps the only thing we can say
 for certain about prayer is that
it is a petition offered on a level
 other than the realm
  in which we physically function.

  It can be a request for self-validation,
a plea for deliverance,
  or many things in-between.

  It might be offered
to the creator of the universe,
a deity of our own construction,
  or an unknown entity.

   We all do it, and probably
  more often than we realize;
sometimes with prescribed
  forms of hope, and other times
   with generic invocations of desperation.

To say that ours have been answered
is to lay claim to their recipient’s legitimacy.

  It seems to me that the genuine mettle
of our god surfaces, however,
not when results coincide
  with our requests, but when they don’t.

  Who and where is your god
when your petitions disappear
  into the abyss of the unrequited?

  There, in the vulnerable nakedness
of “No.” or “Not yet.”,
there remains the possibility
  of divine presence or absence.

    If you find yourself,
   in the deepest darkness,
  convinced that you’re walking alone,
you might want to consider
a different way of sensing,
  an alternate trajectory
   for your pleas and praise,
    or both.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

Yet

zyet

So many choices we have 
for what might be God’s utterance, 
when all seems done and 
the only thing left to say – 
the only thing allowed 
to be said – is a single word.

Powerful and compassionate verbs 
come to mind, as do 
unique and tender nouns, 
or maybe adjectives, 
or some other eloquent string 
of letters and syllables 
possessing unmatched beauty.

Even so, I know 
the word is “Yet.”

Yet, in its not-quite, 
still-to-come sense, 
holding out possibility 
in the presence of nothingness, 
or even in the face 
of every imaginable oppositeness.

Yet, in its 
“You’ve blazed a long trail 
in the opposite direction 
from where you need to be, 
and missed what’s been 
in front of your face all along, 
so turn around.” sense.

God’s word is “Yet.” 
I’m still trying 
to get used to it.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

Siblings

lpatrick2Photo by Linda Patrick

 

“Justice and peace
will kiss each other."
- Psalm 85:10

Justice and Peace embrace
in a warm hug and
double-cheek kiss

because they’re long-lost siblings,
separated soon after birth
by cultures, societies, nations,
and people who cannot see
and believe God’s generosity
and extravagance;

a blind disbelieving which tilts
the world toward selfishness,
greed, anxiety, and fear.

In the tension of such shrinking,
their (J’s & P’s) mother
had to ship them off
to separate family members
to be raised, while she
continually cleans up the messes
and patches the rent fabric
in societies that
tiny-hearted people create.

At least, that’s
the story I’m dreaming.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

Tumbling

tumbling

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

 


Live It

fallA sermon riff on Matthew 23:1-12

 

The Pharisees’ talk 
is miles ahead of their walk,
their show far outpaces their go,
a saint is one thing they ain't.

Jesus differentiates between
the ones who are just
a flash in their own pan
and the ones the light shines through.

They're only platitudes
when our speaking
of them far exceeds
our living of them;

when what we say
is incongruent
with what we live;

when the verbal art
we paint is light years
beyond the canvas
of our ways;

when our talk and walk
are a bait and switch;
when we voice grace
but breathe fear.

The Communion of Saints includes
all those who ask forgiveness
when they live transactionally;
all those who choose
to see beyond binary thinking;
all those who find ways
to allow the transformational power
of grace to both enter in and pour out
of their broken, cracked places.

When the power of resurrection
seeps into our brokenness
at all the thin places
and thin times of our lives,

it is so radical and transformational
that the transactional world
cannot deal with it.

We begin to let go of all the pretending,
all the perfection, comparison, competition,
scarcity, fear, blaming, hoarding, ego;
all of the things by which
we had been controlled.

We begin to play by different rules.
The old rules, hard and fast
as they are, become insignificant;
not because we are above them,
but because we have been
moved beyond them.

We can no longer see and act
in binary fashion, checking off lists
of things we will or won't do
because they are right or wrong.

We are both under the control
of and set free by something
much bigger than law.

We are living through Love,
which turns out to be a messy,
complicated rule that refuses
to be exclusively held by anyone
or nailed to any particular place or time.

This Love is a gift.
We didn't earn it.
We don't own it.
We can't choose who deserves it,
because nobody does,
including us.

Yet it's been given to us anyway;
not just parceled out to us stingily,
but poured out on us extravagantly;

given to us so that
we can let its gift and power
soak all the way
to the marrow of our bones,

flushing out all hurt and hatred,
and all other lies of "not enough"
all falsehoods of “not good enough”;

given to us so that
we can reflect it to others;
so that we can share it
with everyone we meet.

Unlike all that other stuff
that controlled us,
this Love shrinks and dies
when we try to hoard it,
but grows and blossoms
when we give it away.

This is our mission –
our life's purpose
from this day forward –

to let the rule of Love
free us to respond with grace,
not because anyone has earned it,
but because we are all
dying without it.

© 2017 Todd Jenkins

Now Is the Time

IMG_7219Now Is the Time

There lies deep within 
  the human heart — yours,
    mine, and everyone else's — 
      a vision and desire 
    for how life is supposed 
  to be lived;

images of connection 
  without coercion, 
    dreams of enough 
      without competition, 
    hunger for community 
  without uniformity,

thirst for intimacy 
  without betrayal, 
    hope for understanding 
      without judgment, 
    longing for love 
  without condition.

All this is within us; 
  divine spark planted 
    before we were born.

There is but one impediment 
  to our bringing this vision 
    to life: fear.

Fear is a liar.

That is why so many stories
  of divine encounter begin
    with the holy plea, 
      "Fear not!"

Now is the time for us 
  to live from a deep place; 
    to rise up to the grace 
      for which we were created.

Now is the time for hope 
  to reveal the strong roots 
    she has sunk 
      in communities of faith, 
    to nourish our courage.

Now is the time.

© 2017 Todd Jenkins