Monday, July 18, 2016

Preachin' One


It's three quarters-past 10 on a Sunday
The regular crowd shuffles in
The usuals all have their special seats
Sit there once; just don't do it again!

And the ushers have handed out bulletins
And told you to silence your phone
We're here sharing a prayer we call brokenness
‘Cause it's better than prayin' alone

La la la, di da dala la, di da da da dum

Tell us a tale, you're the preachin' one
Tell us a tale today
Well, we're all in the mood for a parable
And you've got us leanin' that way. 

It's a pretty good crowd for a holiday
And the treasurer gives me a nod
But he knows it's NOT me
they've been comin' to see
'Cause they wanna get closer to God

And the folks in the pews are a happy lot
Like family, they're quick to share cheer
And they all sit up straight
and throw cash in the plate,
And say, "Rev, what are you doin' here?"

La la la, di da dala la, di da da da dum

Saint Paul was a traveling evangelist
who never had time for a wife
He wrote congregations
from all sorts of nations
Teaching grace as a new way of life

We are gathered to kindle a memory
Though it seems we've forgotten the plot
So it hurts and it heals
When it gets in our feels
But this story is all that we've got.

Tell us a tale you're the preachin' one
Tell us a tale today
Well, we're all in the mood for a parable
And you've got us leanin' that way

Now Joan, in the choir, is a friend of mine
She sings from her heart so free
She listens a while
And she's quick with a smile
Though there are parts she just won't let us see

She passes me a note as the service ends
"Your sermons offer sacred space, 
But the life that I lead is so far from that 
Please pray I can live and breathe grace."

Oh, la la la, di da dala la, di da da da dum

Tell us a tale you're the preachin' one
Tell us a tale today
Well, we're all in the mood for a parable
And you've got us leanin' that way


© 2016 Todd Jenkins

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Insecurious



It's that limited curiosity
 overwhelmed with fear,
  keeping us from
   opening ourselves wide
    to the universe's wild imaginings;

     so hunkered down
      in our own little world,
       trying to hang onto
        and control everything possible,

         that grace dances
          right under our noses
           completely unnoticed,
  
            love sings harmony
             we cannot hear,
  
              life wafts beyond us.


               © 2016 Todd Jenkins

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Sloth

Photo by Kendall Cox
 What if the 1950s
weren't the church's heyday
but instead, were its days of sloth,
when there was no competition
and all we had to do
was open our doors and everyone
would come, because there was
nowhere else to go and nothing else
 to do on Sunday morning?

What if we need to develop
a completely different model
for being church in a world
long past the simplicity
of unquestioned exclusivity?

What if the torn fabric
of our culture has much less
to do with its failure
to rigidly adhere to our
own particular list
of biblically extracted behaviors,

and is much more about
our own lack of enthusiasm
for practicing grace together
in communities where all have both
a seat and voice at the table?

What if the church's purpose
is to equip members
to reflect hope, share love,
and nourish a hungry and thirsty world
with heaping servings
of dignity, humility, and respect?

What if we actually put
our time, energy, hearts, and money
into doing just that, instead
of trying to figure out how
to get back to the "good old days"?


© 2016 Todd Jenkins

Friday, July 8, 2016

As If

Sculpture by Sterling Goller-Brown

Two logs were set afire.
  Some closed their eyes,
    minding their own business,
      as if wood wasn't really burning,

    while others critiqued, judged,
  and blamed the logs themselves,
as if it were spontaneous combustion.

Then five more logs were
  tossed into the fire.
    As the incendiary heat rises,
      it's difficult for any trees
        to deny the inferno.

      We can keep thumping matches
    across the strike-pad, or
  we can dig trenches around
our own little grove, or

we can speak and act with conviction,
  so that no more fuel is added,
    no more logs are lost.

What's it going to be?


© 2016 Todd Jenkins

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Too High



The cost is outrageous
for all these priceless lives,
secretly calculated in hearts too small
to hold Love's grand truth;

too scared to see
all of us have the same value;
too busy counting and comparing
to feel the ground beneath us quaking,
the skies above us leaking.

We shrink because we sense difference,
recoil with superiority's confidence,
while the universe expands and
diversifies, and the holy one weeps.


© 2016 Todd Jenkins

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Heartspeak

Ichawaynochaway Creek, Newton, GA

When, "Our thoughts and
prayers are with you."
becomes the end and
not the means,
we have lost
our spiritual momentum.

   Too often, we see prayer
   as a request for God
   to move, so we don't have to.

      The core of prayer is
      a shifting of hearts;
      primarily our own.

         We speak our angst,
         cry our frustration,
         groan the unspeakable;

      and in the stillness between
      syllables, tears, and breaths,
      a different note vibrates.

   Maybe it's a new note,
   perhaps a dissonant one;
   but, always, it calls us
   toward the circle.

Whatever else we imagine
it to be, prayer is a request
for inclusion in the sacred journey.

If you're willing to move,
but don't know where or how,
let your heart speak.

The rest is not up to you,
but you will likely
find yourself up to it.


© 2016 Todd Jenkins

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Looking Glass

Photo by Lee Lindsey McKinney

Once we identify the image 
in the mirror 
as the single common denominator 
in all our problems, 
all our relationships, 
and all our stories, 

as well as the only person, place, 
or thing over which we have 
even an illusion of control, 
we have found the beginning point 
for healthy relationships. 

The next step requires putting down 
the looking glass and giving ourselves 
to make a difference 
in someone else's life; 

neither offering to fix, advise, 
or change them, nor pretending 
to be or do anything more or less 
than who we really are and that 
of which we're truly capable. 

Don't wait for perfection or 
understanding to begin, 
and do not demand either of these 
in yourself or others along the way. 

Lead with your heart, 
and let grace map 
each step of the way. 
Today is always a new day 
in each journey. 

© 2016 Todd Jenkins