Monday, October 29, 2012

I Believe

The gospel fully transcends
the generational and cultural
crosswind in which human life exists.

We fail to answer the gospel call
when we equate and limit its message
to a particular people and time. 

The disposable mindset of modernity
has a tendency to discard tradition
without examining it. 

The institutional mindset of the church
has a tendency to maintain tradition
without questioning it. 

Neither of these is healthful
for our spirits, our worship, or our living.
Faithful response to the call

of God in Christ for these times of ours
requires that we preserve traditions
which add grace to our living,

consider all available mediums
for communicating the gospel,
and intentionally promote the

values inherent in both.
If it is true that those who do not learn
history are condemned to repeat it,

it is equally true that those who
live in history alone are condemned
to never reach the future.

© 2012 Todd Jenkins

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Prayer and Perseverance

God seems less concerned
 with answering particular prayers
than moving praying people
to the place where their offerings
willingly approach divine design.

Therein lies the paradox
of what we so enthusiastically
and vigorously argue: free will.
On the one hand, we desperately hope
it is true; on the other, we wish it weren’t.

Perseverance has not so much
to do with convincing God
as it does with stilling us,
which is why honesty
is so critical; fooling ourselves
only makes fools of ourselves.

© 2012 Todd Jenkins

Monday, October 22, 2012

Moving with the Flow

Acts 10:42 He commanded us to preach to the people
and to testify that he is the one ordained by God
as judge of the living and the dead.
43 All the prophets testify about him
that everyone who believes in him receives
forgiveness of sins through his name.

Guilt builds an invisible stage
on which unresolved anger
rehearses its soliloquy ad nauseam,

oblivious to pain, suffering
of self or others;
neither denouement nor future possible,
only incessant self-flagellation.

Compassion, the crystal spring
from which flows clarity, understanding;
river against which rage surges,
until all that remains:

joy’s tears, love’s touch,
freeing self and others to swim and float
toward the Gulf of Integrity. 

© 2012 Todd Jenkins

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Strangers in a Foreign Land

Perhaps you can tell that I was inspired by the privilege of attending a private screening of a powerful documentary on the complexity of our nation's current immigration issues: 

Hebrews 11:13b They confessed that they were
strangers and foreigners on the earth,
Deuteronomy 10:18-19 He defends the cause
of the orphan and the widow,
and loves the alien, giving him food and clothing.
And you are to love those who are aliens,
for you yourselves were aliens in Egypt.

When Scripture describes us
as “strangers and foreigners on the earth”
we would rather see this
as metaphorical or historical,
not directly applicable to our own situation,
because our simplified, bumper-sticker theologized,

sound-byte-driven culture works best
when we are squeezed into one of two extremes:
either we are IN (the cozy, privileged insiders)
or we are OUT (WAAY out there
on the ostracized and dangerous periphery),
and Lord, you know how hard
we’ve worked to “make it.”

But there it is, in black and white,
peppered throughout the Hebrew Scriptures,
woven into the core of the Greek Scriptures,
pushing us all up against people
who wear the labels we’ve created:
Illegal Alien, Undocumented Worker.

Don’t get us wrong, Lord.
We like low-cost products and cheap labor,
so long as we don’t have to consider
that this cheapness is inversely related
to the price that families and individuals pay
when they are separated and worked
like mistreated animals, not even
provided life’s basic necessities.

We’re all for border control,
now that our ancestors have long-since
made safe passage from Europe and other ports,
safely ensconced as privileged but despised
citizens of this great and powerful nation.

 When we come to worship, O Lord,           
we don’t mind confessing a little anger,
 a bit of greed, a pinch of lust, but
please don’t make us think about
our complicity-via-the-blind-eye
toward complex institutional sin
 that has slowly evolved over centuries,
as piecemeal policies have slowly
fashioned an ever-tightening noose
around the foundation of our economy.

Please don’t expect us to consider
giving up the privileges and progress
we’ve gained, as the playing field
is now tilted like Kilimanjaro’s slope.
There, we’ve said it;
named the fear and ‘fessed up the feelings.

Now, speak your truth to us
as we seek to rest in your grace.
Give us wisdom that we may discern
the weed-grown path of strong resistance
winding up the mountainside
of interpersonal relationships,
through the minefield of international politics.

Grant that we may find the courage
to name the sacred cows,
the compassion to speak and act with integrity,
the character to keep going when no one’s looking,

the tenacity to tirelessly trek
all the way to the mountaintop of justice
that demands dignity and respect
for the widow, orphan, and sojourner,
especially when their alienation and aloneness
have been caused by our own appetites.

© 2012 Todd Jenkins

Thursday, October 11, 2012


Do you hear ticking & tocking, 
or an invitational ringing?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


We give thanks, O God,
for the spirit of grace
that occasionally allows us

to recognize that a task
of need, accomplished by
the imperfection of another,

 is far more valuable than
our own perfect plan that has
repeatedly failed to materialize.

Give us, more and more,
the ability to put criticism
out with the other garbage,

choosing instead to offer
the two-word prayer and praise
of gratitude: "Thank you!"

© 2012 Todd Jenkins

Saturday, October 6, 2012


Every generation grasps its wealth,
convinced that what’s possessed
not only has been obtained by fair means
but done according to divine desire.
Recall what the psalmist declared (24:1)
“The earth is the Lord’s
and all that is in it,
the world, and those who live in it...”

Original distribution, then,
took place between the tree of life
and the tree of the knowledge
of good and evil – Eden was its name.

Ever since Cain’s possessiveness emerged,
we’ve redistributed what belongs to God,
as if it were ours alone to keep or give;
warring madness, the ultimate distribution struggle.

How long, O Lord, before
we realize again for the first time
that the measure of our success
is not what’s won, lost, amassed,

but how we hold onto one another
with strong, tender, open hands;
how we feed our neighbors by
the long-handled spoon of grace?

© 2012 Todd Jenkins

Friday, October 5, 2012

Pepper Faith

Life is a pepper -
more like a collection
of many peppers -
rainbow of pepper family's
 genealogical tree.

Religion, mostly an attempt
at genetic design,
narrowing pool to
a few colorful varieties,
long shelf life.

Never mind that these varieties
are not self-sustaining,
must be propped on
plethora of support systems,
that flavor's intensity is often
sacrificed for aesthetics.

Faith, not as religion's antithesis,
but rather crucial complement,
 seeks to cultivate
boldly flavored varieties
capable not only of
kicking it up a notch
but also scattering
strong seeds hither and yon.

Faith's potent oil
seeps into cook's hands,
stinging sensitive skin for days,
calling all to risk immersion.
Do you feel the burn?

© 2012 Todd Jenkins

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Viva la Difference


What does this have to do with World Communion Sunday?

Monday, October 1, 2012

We Are Called

Mark 9:42-43 (NRSV)

“If anyone causes one of these little ones—
those who believe in me—to stumble,
it would be better for them
if a large millstone
were hung around their neck
and they were thrown into the sea.
If your hand causes you to stumble,
cut it off. It is better for you
to enter life maimed than with two hands
to go into hell, where the fire never goes out.”

We are called neither to
the mobster ministry of millstones,
nor the gangster ministry of guillotines –
not for self, and certainly not for others.

We are called, instead,
to the mirror ministry of self-examination.

We are called, not to find blame,
but to find hope and solution;
called to plow all of the dirt-clods
of our self-constructed barriers
into a fertile field for God’s garden of grace.

© 2012 Todd Jenkins