Tuesday, December 31, 2013


A rude awakening
from life's peaceful slumber,
death delivers its powerful
kick in the gut,
dancing a victory jig
as we scramble to reorient.

Clamoring for breath
like asthma patients
without rescue inhalers,
we check our lifelines,
jettisoning all lesser gods,
as the truth of their inferiority
becomes apparent.

Dogma and doctrine fade,
as do belief, rules, and rituals.
What's left?

"Hope" may best describe
the place where who we are
and what happens to us along the way
meet the plans and purposes
that God has for us,
both in the here and now
as well as in the hereafter.

Love, the dance that animates us,
when time, distance,
and even breath itself
separate us from those whose hearts
are forever intertwined with ours.

"Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God."
Matt 5:9

Photo by DeEtta Harris Jenkins

© 2013 Todd Jenkins


Original photo by Todd Jenkins

Just words, connecting the dots
enough to sketch the big picture;
remembering that, with water color
or crayons or charcoal or even
a bucket of house paint,

however and in whatever shade
your life is decorated today,
the One who dreamed
and drew you before you were born
has your image on the fridge;

your outside-the-lines self
that sometimes feels insignificant
and hurts in ways and places
you'd prefer to have never known.

Never beyond the divine gaze,
your pain and passion,
your hurt and hope
are always on God's heart;
your wholeness being whispered
onto the canvas this instant.

© 2013 Todd Jenkins

Friday, December 27, 2013


Photos by Todd Jenkins

At our deepest, we know
there is chasmic disconnect
between the person our culture
tells us we should be
and the person we really are.

How we choose to deal
with this inconsistency
defines our life’s path.

Operating the battle metaphor,
against a series of external enemies,
bifurcates us, one part
acknowledged good,
the other, denied evil.

Projecting our unacceptable selves
onto serial adversaries,
we will never find peace
within or without, only
increasing piles of weapons and enemies.

Banquet’s the metaphor,
where all are invited,
bringing the fullness of their lovely
and unlovable selves to the table.

It’s the only way we can be
redeemed and made wholly holy;
the place where union with the divine
supersedes our faux majesty.

It’s also the only place and way
that we come to recognize
the same redemption in everyone else.

Once the curtain has been pulled back
on the facade of our own perfection,
we are free to see the amazing grace
that all are more like us than different.

© 2013 Todd Jenkins

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Growing Christmas

Photo by Lee Lindsey McKinney

If growing-up required you
to shrink from all mystery,
to avoid expectation,
to deny and hide all vulnerability,
jettisoning these child-like qualities
for a strong, planned, and predictable life,
Christmas invites you,
every year, to reclaim its gift.

You will not likely anticipate
the same things you did in your youth,
but you can learn how to wait,
and hope for the arrival
of gift that surpasses imagination.

Christmas invites you
to keep your inner child,
but trade-in your youthful longings
for much larger ones.

When toys and transportation
are no longer at the top of your list,
you have a chance to dream
more amazing gifts.

Hope isn't wishful thinking,
but the realization that the universe
is ordered to point toward a promise
that cannot be denied or derailed.

Peace on earth is not a theory
or an in-breaking for the distant future,
but a courageous act and kind word
chosen each day and moment.

Joy is a gift unwrapped daily,
by those who cease
their own personal pursuit
of happiness long enough
to recognize what’s been
underneath the tree all along.

Love is the freely-offered overflow
of those who've traded-in earning
for unconditional grace that shows up
in spite of all our fear and hiding.

Find the child in you so that
you may find the child whose gift
gives us all a chance to be
broken Christs to our hungry world.

© 2013 Todd Jenkins

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Christmas Eve

You know the day is bound to be long
when it’s called an “eve” at sunrise.
Long it is for many folks in varied ways.

Long for those whose hopes are set
on simple magic of chimneys, sleigh,
airborne reindeer, gifts galore.

Long for those whose plans are 
to stave off disappointment from
such childlike dreams of abundance;

working and saving for eleven months;
decorating and preparing for weeks;
outlasting excitement to assemble.

Long for those little ones whose hopes
are beaten down 24/7 by birth, circumstance
but can’t help hoping one more time.

Longer still for beleaguered parents from
the have-not side of life who must figure out
how to explain tomorrow’s emptiness.

Longing is a deeper long for those whose pain
is heightened by the absence of a life-long love
or knowledge that this year may be the last.

Into this long and longing day that
moves toward darkness all too soon,
a candle flicker moves toward life.

For those whose patience births a faith,
nurturing a flame that warms a hope,
single candle turns to tongues of fire.

Light, warmth, grace all overflow;
gold, frankincense, myrrh arrive;
joy is stirred deep in the soul!

Photo by Anne Shurley

© 2008 Todd Jenkins

Thursday, December 19, 2013


Photo by the Jenkins & Kester families

Advent’s call to wait, watch, prepare
didn’t outlast Thanksgiving’s leftover turkey;
"O Come, O Come Emmanuel" gave way
to "O Little Town of Bethlehem."

The family candle ritual fell
as the calendar filled with fun;
the bell lap comes earlier each year,
pushing, pressing; fibrillation nears.

The devotional book gathers dust
as cable inundates us with new classics.
How many twists and technologies can we find
to complicate and reintroduce Nicholas’ gift?

Worship at the cathedral of the mall
intensifies as credit tachometers
whine beyond the red zone;
package toting enhances subluxation.

Always one step ahead of where we are;
spirit, mind, body– never the three shall meet;
standing in line, expecting only to
exchange presents instead of presence.

Beyond the mall manger’s baby powder scent
the Christ child begs our attention;
the true spending gift of Christmas
is risking honest time sharing love.

© 2013 Todd Jenkins

Monday, December 16, 2013

Gabriel’s ‘Nunciation Blues

Angel Gabriel, he done told me
I’m birthin’ God’s own son.
He’s got to be mistaken.
How can I be the one?!

My baby won’t have no daddy
to walk the face of this earth.
I’m just another teenage girl
who ain’t got no worth.

I got the blu-u-u-u-u-ues.
I got Gabriel’s ‘nunciation blues!

Cousin Lizzy came out to greet me;
her baby jumpin’ all ‘round.
Don’t know why I came to see her,
I just had to leave that town.

My head is spinnin’ so fast;
don’t know what I’m gonna do.
Never had an angel visit;
tell me child have you?

I got the blu-u-u-u-u-ues.
I got Gabriel’s ‘nunciation blues!

Until your angel visits
you just don’t know what it’s like.
‘Fraid to tell my boyfriend,
‘cause he’ll tell me to take a hike!

Lizzy said God blessed me;
blessed the fruit of my womb.
But when I tell my Joseph,
he’ll send me to my tomb!

I got the blu-u-u-u-u-ues.
I got Gabriel’s ‘nunciation blues!

What kind of God is this,
who flips the world around?
Liftin’ up the lowly,
an’ bringin’ the mighty down?

The hole that was within me
seems to have been filled.
The craziness inside me
has finally been stilled.

Maybe it’s not the blu-u-u-u-u-ues;
just what it’s like to let God choose!

God has made a promise
to fill the hungry soul;
to gather in the scattered,
an’ make God’s people whole.

The mercy that I’m feelin’
is holdin’ me up firm,
to carry God’s own baby
an’ bring him to full term.

It’s not the blu-u-u-u-u-ues.
just what it’s like to let God choose!

Photo by Todd Jenkins

© 2005 Todd Jenkins

Thursday, December 12, 2013


Photo by Todd Jenkins

It's good to be reminded of
and comforted by a few things
on a regular basis:

that the sun never stops shining;
we just move away from its path,
as other people and places
take our spot beneath its gaze;

that we don't have to chase it
around the world daily,
as if it's a scarce coal of fire-starter,
to ensure that we will have
light and warmth tomorrow;

and that sister moon,
with her uncountable brood
of stars, serve as both our night-light
and our reminder of the sun's
promised return, even on the
cloudiest and stormiest of our nights.

© 2013 Todd Jenkins

Monday, December 9, 2013


Photo by Lee Lindsey McKinney

As soon as we are certain
that God has un-chosen those
of whom we are afraid and
about whom we know very little,

we can panic assured we have created
God to reflect our own image,
and not the other way around.

God in-the-flesh, whom we called Jesus,
spent little of his time creating
“insider” and “outsider” lists for us to check.

The chief complaint of his generation’s chiefs
was that he spent far too much energy
conflating with the unloved and the unlovely.

Holiness, at least as it is revealed incarnate,
is a great deal about choosing the unchosen, 
about erasing and expanding our circles.

© 2013 Todd Jenkins

Sunday, December 8, 2013


It’s December 26, of all days,
and the very self of God has decided
to visit creation again, en carne.

Forget, for a moment, if you can,
what this time will look like to us;
try to picture what it will look like to God.

In much of the world, it will be
just another day of need:
toil and suffering
in the struggle to survive.

Perhaps the remains
of a meager celebration
from the night before
might be visible
to the trained eye:

a candle and the crumbs
from a small portion
of seldom-splurged-for food.

And then there’s my neck of the woods:
cardboard boxes, brightly colored paper,
ribbon, partially-eaten animal carcasses
and every food imaginable heaped at the curb
as if an omnivore named opulence
has binged and purged on the spot;

people scurrying to hide every vestige
of what’s not discarded from the extravaganza
in attics, garages, and storage buildings for another year
before returning to the security of their compounds.

Where will this generation’s shepherds be found –
those at the margins whose work
is both so menial and odoriferous
that they must be kept at bay?

What will be their response
to the celestial’s visit and proclamation:
“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
 and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”?

When they arrive in our neighborhood,
will we recognize them as the favored ones?
Will we join Mary in treasuring
their words in our hearts?

Or will their uniforms and smelly trucks
cause our eyes and hearts to glaze?
If you were playing this like the stock market,
how heavily would you leverage
your portfolio for the future they’re promising?

Photo by Todd Jenkins

© 2013 Todd Jenkins

Monday, December 2, 2013


Photo by Todd Jenkins

Incarnational experience
is less about doing;
more about remembering. 

Whatever else we “do”
to prepare for Christmas,
what matters most is that
we take the time to “remember”:

who it is that came and
who it is that will come again. 

Our hope, our liberation,
our deliverance are in
and through the God who comes
in decisive ways; the God
whose in-breaking is like

a wild animal tearing out
of its cage and into our world. 

© 2013 Todd Jenkins

Friday, November 29, 2013


How these letters, spaces
and punctuation marks form themselves
into something remotely intelligible,
and possibly hopeful
has always been a mystery.

We can feel it much better
than explain it.
At bare places where pain
and suffering have stripped
all sense of entitlement and control,
there is a swath cut through the jungle.

We don't need a map
to remember the way.
Each time we hear stories
of a remotely similar journey
by another person,
our hearts take that path again.

Somewhere along the way,
our brains join the trip,
sometimes abducted, others willingly.

As we near that familiar clearing,
the fog lifts, and we remember
the most powerful promise of Divine:
it is not protection, or power, but presence.

This is the gift that opens vocal chords
and directs fingertips to keyboard,
steadying us all in our naked places of hurt,
casting a flicker of grace upon our darkness.

Photo by Todd Jenkins

© 2013 Todd Jenkins