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
Photo by Ashley Goad
Let your word be ‘Yes, Yes’ or ‘No, No’; anything more than this comes from the evil one. (Matthew 5:37) Say yes to the rhythm of your marrow; yes to walking deliberately; yes to listening attentively; yes to considering prayerfully; yes to speaking gently; yes to acting compassionately; yes to holding tenderly; and as these yeses unfold into the world, you will find the wisdom, strength, and courage to say no; no to division; no to fear; no to othering; no to assuming; no to hoarding; no to hurrying; no to spontaneously reacting; no to violence; no to abusing; no to anesthetizing. Learn the way of yes, and the way of no will follow close behind. © 2018 Todd Jenkins
Our prayers rise on your behalf, lifting you into the presence of the Great Physician: Behold your precious child, O God; one created in your image and filled with your reflection. Grant that the medical team may continue to act with wisdom, compassion, and understanding, so that the journey along the road to recovery may be bearable and dotted with respites and oases giving breathing room. Grant an awakening each day with enough courage to climb out of bed, enough strength to shuffle forward, and enough hope to lift eyes to the rising sun. Grant that caretakers and family may discern when to push and when to hold, when to cry and when to laugh, when to speak and when to sit in silence. These and all prayers we waft in the name of him whose robe hem sparkled with life itself, Jesus the Christ. Amen. © 2018 Todd Jenkins
Those who are vocabulary-challenged, and/or overcome by fear, often feel forced to abandon oral communication in favor of violence; the bravest, or perhaps the most desperate, perpetrate physical aggression; those with lesser gumption often assault language itself, waging battle against long-held meaning, gas-lighting society into lexical confusion. The rest of us are then tasked to hold firm to the tension between conflict forced upon us, and the eternal possibility of language, refusing to abandon the common ground of our shared meanings. In the end, war’s horror cannot stand on its own; and words, with their community interpretations, will win, because our common story outlives every other blitzkrieg, and love’s vocal evocation eventually woos even frozen, trembling hearts. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13) © 2018 Todd Jenkins
We all need a drawer, roomy and strong, where nothing but our painful feelings are held. Every day, and as many times as necessary, we can air out the filters, and let the hurts, injustices, and suffocations rise to the surface and be expressed with all the passion and outrage we can muster. When the fireworks subside, and respiration has slowed and deepened, the drawer will ask, “Is this going to define your day, or even your life?” If our answer is, “No.”, we can open the drawer, lay our feels to rest, and return to our life, assured that our emotions have been heard, and that they’re real and valid. Then, and only then, can we allow ourselves to be raised above the ache. Some days, new grief triggers memories of injuries past, tempting us to make a withdrawal from the drawer, rather than a deposit. This is when the drawer’s inquiry is crucial, “Is this going to define your day, or even your life?” By the way, in case you’re wondering, the drawer’s name is God. © 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
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
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
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