Monday, July 20, 2009

Mission Has Beckoned: LWW

Mission has beckoned
From earth's four corners;
Water as God’s force
No longer gives
Life and health freely.
How can we share what
We're given so that
Everyone lives?

Show us the web, Lord,
Of our connection;
Teach us to value
Gifts that all bring.
Covenant people
Bringing together
Resources garnered
Makes Your heart sing.

Give us the courage,
Give us the wisdom,
To be your hands and
To be your feet.
Give us compassion,
Give us the love to
See Christ reflect in
Each face we meet.

People are waiting,
Wond’ring and watching:
Who will remember?
Who’ll be our grace?
We are an answer,
We’ve felt the calling.
With God’s empow’ring,
We’re mission’s face.

Show us the way to
Give while receiving;
Hearts and minds open
While we’re at work.
Share what we’re given,
Take what is offered.
God’s gifts abounding,
Make us the kirk.

© 2009 Todd Jenkins

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


I’ve heard the statement, “We’re witnessing history.” a lot lately, with regard to politics, economics, and even church. Truth be told, history is not limited to earth-shaking, momentous occasions that are captured on paper, video, or stored in fire-proof cabinets. We not only witness history every day, we participate in it—we MAKE it—the good, bad, and ugly, as well as the mundane.

Our congregation has a long, storied, and essential history in this community. From its courthouse worship gatherings since 1812; to its cyclone-razed frame worship structure erected in the 1820s; to its bricks-burned-on-the-spot sanctuary that weathered not only Civil War casualties, but also a multi-oxen steeple tear-off; to the 1967 kitchen & education wing that hosted countless fellowship meals, education events, wedding receptions, Vacation Bible Schools, and God knows what else; to the 2004 Family Life Center that is just coming into its own as a preschool and host for a plethora of church and community functions; this congregation has participated and is participating in countless faith and community events that have nurtured and shaped our community.

Buildings don’t even tell half of it. Elected, appointed, and volunteer community leaders from this congregation have provided and continue to provide direction, vision, and leadership for government, social, service, and civic organizations all across the Tennessee Valley. For all the programs, missions, and ministries to which we directly connect, there are dozens more that are driven and supported by individuals and families from this congregation. All of this is history MAKING—foundational blocks on which our whole community was built and continues to be built.

We, as a congregation, have been particularly careful over the years to maintain records of that history—to save for posterity the people and stories that gave shape to who we are and who we are becoming. With our 2004 building and renovation program, we set aside a room for this purpose—a history room. We committed technical and human resources to archiving and storing those stories, and have just recently received shipment of fire-resistant storage units for that purpose.

As we move toward 2012, we are gearing up for the congregation’s 200th anniversary celebration. All of this is a part of preserving and celebrating the history that is already ours. But your Session is not content to rest on its laurels. The gospel calls us to participate in and claim the new history of God’s future. We are also constantly considering what part we will play in tomorrow’s history. Do we only want a “place in history” or do we also dare to seek a “part in the present and future coming of God’s realm”? The difference is between accepting only a static residence in the past, and acknowledging our past at the same time that we are reaching toward a life in God’s future.

“History is what we make of it” as the old saying goes. Whether we make something of it or not, it will eventually claim each of us once and for all. We will BE history—finished though maybe not forgotten—but certainly gone. We will also surely MAKE history. The question yet-to-be-answered is: “Will the history we MAKE open the door for this congregation to continue making more history in the future?” It is my hope that we are willingly embracing a grace-inspired vision of a vibrant future; my prayer that we are warmly encouraging and accepting the energy and ideas of all generations; my dream that we are passionately pursuing a present filled with growth and its life-giving change.

History—God’s history—is not just about the past. It is about opening ourselves to the possibility of God’s future. THAT’s the future in which we need to participate. Are you in?

© 2009 Todd Jenkins

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Grace’s Garden

I’ve always enjoyed the fruits of others’ gardens, but never really planted one of my own. I’m sure the grass or flower seeds that I planted in a paper cup in kindergarten sprouted, but I never stayed focused on their growth and health long enough to remember. I don’t even pay enough attention to the potted plants in my office to notice their need for water. If it weren’t for Jennie and others of you in the church, the pots in my office would cease to be organic, and would only qualify as a “dried arrangement.”

This doesn’t mean that I don’t think about and even sometimes dream about gardening. The other day, as I was daydreaming about what kind of garden I’d like to grow and tend, I tried to imagine the one fruit, vegetable, or flower that I could contribute to the lives of those around me—the one thing that we all need more of—I went through the usual suspects: tomatoes, squash, mint, basil, cilantro, beans, cucumbers, greens, lettuce. None of this produce, as tasty and important as it may be, really grabbed me.

That’s when it hit me. The one thing that we all need more of is grace! It’s the perennial that makes the world go ‘round, the nourishment that truly refreshes, the sustenance that makes everything not only possible, but worthwhile.

I’m going to pay more attention to watering, feeding, weeding, and sustaining grace at every turn. It’s going to be my garden project. Together we can water the grace that blesses our lives with our tears of joy and sorrow. We’ll feed it by celebrating the places it easters up in our lives. When chaos, confusion, and guilt choke out our grace-vision, we’ll pull those weeds so we’ll be able to see grace more clearly. Together we can sustain grace’s garden in our community.

It is a year-round, lifelong plant that’s already been over-sown in every nook and cranny of our lives. Grace is not an introductory offer. There is no time or circumstance for which its currency is insufficient; no thought or act beyond the reach of its healing salve; no cup or soul too broken to experience its overflow. It can be refused, but it will not be withdrawn.

Do you see it?

© 2009 Todd Jenkins

Friday, July 3, 2009

Ministering to

Out of town this week to visit Katie for a few days. I'll give you a quote from FDR, and let you tell me where and how it is applicable in our world and your life today:

Facing the continuation of the Great Depression, President Franklin D. Roosevelt spoke to the nation in his 1933 inaugural speech:

"So first of all let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear. . .is fear itself. . . nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.…..
These dark days will be worth all they cost us if they teach us that our true destiny is not to be ministered unto but to minister to ourselves and to our fellow-men."