Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Constitutio Aqua Reformata, Semper Reformanda

“Water system reformed, always reforming.” Correct my Latin, if you please, but don’t miss the forest for the trees. Living Waters for the World (LWW) is, without a doubt, a thoroughly Reformed organization in the best way.

Just when you thought everything was figured out, someone figures out something even better. Many organizations eschew change by investing heavily in human resources that are great cheerleaders. Cheerleaders play the important role of keeping morale and motivation at their peak, often by touting the benefits and comfort of maintaining the status quo—the way the game is currently being played. Other organizations corral change by investing heavily in mechanical and human resources that can function in only one way: the way we do it now.

LWW is constantly in search of the “New Superlative Way”(NSW) —the new best way. I just received a NSW Clean Water Systems Handbook in the mail, detailing the new best ways to treat and deliver safe drinking water. “Standard” is the word used to describe the set-up and treatment system for the majority of situations which fit LWW’s parameters. You may think “standard” simply means “ordinary” or “usual.” With LWW, I believe that the constant search for the NSW makes “Standard” the goal/measurement by which all others are evaluated.

How does LWW do it? How do they function so flexibly? The key, I believe, lies in keeping their focus on their goal and partners. Their mission statement: “Living waters trains and equips mission teams to share the gift of clean sustainable water with communities in need.” When your goal is to provide as much of the best water with as many people as possible, innovation is a welcome improvement, rather than a threat.

I find it ironic, hopeful, and inspirational that an organization with its roots firmly sunk in the church can be so fluid. If the church, which is high atop the hill of “We can’t do that because we’ve never done it that way before!” can give birth to a child of such shape-shifting, then perhaps all the mainline naysayers and their doomsday predictions aren’t as accurate or frightening as we might think. I wonder what would happen if we, at First Presbyterian Church, Fayetteville, Tennessee, spoke, lived, acted, and worshiped with similar passion and focus toward our vision to: “Reveal God's grace to all generations now and forevermore.”

© 2009 Todd Jenkins

Monday, September 21, 2009

Wearing Off & Sinking In

This is for all those to whom grief seems spreading pall:

When grande grief is bearing down
Upon life unaware,
Spirit gives anesthesia
So we can live and bear

Pain that is too great for anyone.
Numbness spreads and covers
A safety net, our heart to hold
Bits of loved and lovers

That would fly away otherwise
Into the great abyss
Leaving us breathless, without hope
For those we dearly miss.

There comes a day that fog’s so thick
We can’t remember how
We walked or even tried to think
Beyond the here and now.

As time goes by, feeling returns
And pain becomes so real
Excruciating sensations
Beyond our wish to deal.

The promise of the gospel is
That Christ will be our salve;
‘Twill take us deep within to where
Our love will truly have

The chance for pain to sink into
The growing places where
A person gives the self away
All for the chance to share

Love that once was rooted in
A life no longer here
But one that still kindles the flame
And always will be near.

Because this is a pain so deep
Its roots will reach the place
Of anchor in the self of God
Where every breath is grace.

© 2009 Todd Jenkins

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Litany for Labor

[L] Sabbath is a command to set aside a day to recognize the inherent glory and generosity in the work of God’s creation.

[P] Let us rest from our own labors, in order to understand and appreciate the primal labor from which we and our ability to work are sourced.

[L] Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt and into the wilderness to give them time, space, and energy to offer praise and worship to God.

[P] Praise be to the heavens for God’s deliverance to worship for Israel and for us.

[L] Our nation sets aside the first Monday in September to honor the work of our bodies and minds.

[P] We pray this day for all who labor and are heavily burdened; for heads of household who struggle to feed their families on part-time hours at minimum wage; for the undereducated and the unqualified whose lives are shortened by the market’s brutal disregard for their health. Make us instruments of change in individual and corporate circumstance, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

[L] Let us also remember those who are driven to workaholism by the tapeworm of consumption.

[P] We pray this day for all who, in spite of hefty portfolios and incomes, work longer and harder with less and less satisfaction. Help us to mirror healthful family, community, and faith relationships, that we all might measure our worth with and receive our joy from your gift of grace, O Lord.

[L] Our congregation sets aside the month of September as a month for particular emphasis on the practice of stewardship.

[P] We pray this day for all who struggle to decide when and how to hang on and let go of the bounty of our inheritance and our labor which come from your providence, O God. May we find ways to keep our palms upturned and opened, that we might freely receive and give your gifts with joy and generosity, as you guide us through the nudging of your Holy Spirit. Amen.

© 2005 Todd Jenkins