Thursday, October 30, 2014

Cutting Edge

It's the front side; the one where
all the work is done, but also
the one where danger lurks.

What does it mean to live
on the cutting edge of grace?

It means looking for the good
that's hiding behind fear and anxiety;
seeing through another's lens
without judging that view;

standing beside and offering,
but not demanding, for others
to peer through your glasses,
while you're trying to see through God's;
wholly trusting in something beyond yourself;

and validating the holy
when it is manifested in others,
especially when it's antithetical
to what you were imagining.

It is, above all, sailing
on the wind of surprise
and riding the current of joy.

© 2014 Todd Jenkins

Monday, October 27, 2014


They're only platitudes
when our speaking
of them far exceeds
our living of them;

when what we say
is incongruent
with what we live;

when the verbal art
we paint is light years
beyond the canvas
of our ways;

when our talk and walk
are a bait and switch;
when we voice grace
but breathe fear.

© 2014 Todd Jenkins

Friday, October 24, 2014


I’ve been praying and thinking a lot lately about the intersection of church and culture. I feel as if there has been some major road construction underway, but the church seems to have either ignored or disbelieved the rerouting signs. Here’s one example:

Pastors spend about twenty hours a week preparing their sermons, and another 3-4 hours preparing to lead the other parts of worship, yet the Sunday morning worship hour is becoming less and less the touchpoint for connection to church and faith. We have to disabuse ourselves of the notion that the work of church happens on Sunday and takes place inside the walls of the building. If the church is going to be a beacon of the gospel that Jesus, as God in the flesh, revealed, we have to understand the schedule correctly.

We are not on an NFL schedule, where all week is practice for Sunday's performance. Sunday is the practice, and every day of the week is the real deal. We are not quarterbacks, who learn how to call and execute a series of plays. It isn't a game, or even a competition at all.

It is a dance, and the music, which we must be open to hear, is Love, and this Love is beholden neither to a particular tune and beat, nor to a select set of instruments. The steps we must learn to take cannot be  memorized. They morph, moment by moment, situation by situation. We must learn to feel them in our bones, and to trust that what we feel is enough. It won't always be right, but it's not about correctness and certitude. It's about relationships and community. The dance, which is only learned step by step, as we go along, is Grace.

Stumble on, sisters and brothers. The world is dying to step with us.

© 2014 Todd Jenkins

Thursday, October 23, 2014


As our bodies, minds, and spirits
settle for worship, may we breathe
deeply of your promises,
purposefully discarding the hurried,
shallow pace of the culture and economy
with which we are surrounded.

May we find ways, through worship
and beyond, to be fed more
than empty-caloried fast food.

May we refuse to simply sit around
and wait for white bread answers,
and be challenged, instead,
to earnestly search for whole wheat questions;
through Jesus Christ, our guide. Amen.
Photo by Lee Lindsey McKinney

© 2014 Todd Jenkins

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Leap of Faith

“Leap” is often a stretch, not in
a lunging toward the sky kind of way,
but more like hyperbole.

It’s not usually about peeling rubber
into the darkness like a drag racer,
but more about taking one step
at a time beyond visibility;

looking back to see
if God’s presence can be discerned;
and listening forward
toward the darkness, seeking
to discern God’s whisper.
Photo of Dark Island by Lee Lindsey McKinney

© 2014 Todd Jenkins

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Blessing of the Backpacks

[L] We are a people of full pantries, O God; most often lamenting the absence of our favorite foods, rather than the absence of nourishment altogether.

[P] We have extremely secure food pantries!

[L] But when we look around our own town, we see pockets of food insecurity.

[P] We see children who come to school with empty stomachs.

[L] You, O God, have put it in our hearts to respond to this hunger in tangible ways.

[P] Bless this food from our Backpack program that has been piled upon the Communion table.

[L] May it nourish not only the stomachs of those it reaches, but also their hearts and minds.

[P] May it represent the Bread of Life and the Cup of Salvation to everyone who eats and drinks.

[All] So let it be spoken. So let it be delivered. So let it be done.

Thursday, October 16, 2014


Photo by Jennie R. Jenkins

When the hermetic seal gives way,
when the paint begins to wear,
when the corners chip away,

when the fissure runs all the way
through and straight down the middle,
and even when the pieces crumble
so small that a team of forensic scientists
couldn't possibly reassemble your life,

I want you to know that God is with you –
has been with you all along –
and not the angry, "Tsk, tsk, tsk!"
God of your fearful imaginings,

but the Holding, Weeping, Tender
God of Grace whose grip is both
so gentle and expansive that
all of your fragments are held under
the delicate flow of Love's fountain,

so that you can be watered and nourished
into a resilient flower of Hope,
reflecting divine Mercy for all the rest
of us cracked souls to see.

© 2014 Todd Jenkins

Monday, October 13, 2014

No Stone

Sabbath is, first and foremost,
the creation of time, space,
and reflection for the purpose
of removing ourselves from

and repenting of all the thoughts,
words, actions, and systems
that have supplanted
our awestruck posture in the presence
of the great mystery of God.

Wilderness is the ideal setting
for such practices, with its
utter absence of comforts and controls.
Sanctuary will suffice,
if the desert is unreachable.

No stone is exempt
from examination and turning.
No institution gets a bye.

Political, social, cultural,
economic, familial, and even
religious systems must be
held up to the candle of Love
to see if their thread is both
sufficiently strong and flexible.

Systems that make it back
from this weekly sojourn,
tempered and reshaped
by faith’s heat and hammer,
are allowed to direct us
for another week.
Photo by Lee Lindsey McKinney

© 2014 Todd Jenkins

Thursday, October 9, 2014


Just exactly how, when,
and how much we allow
the fire burning inside us
to be revealed to the world
is different for everyone.

We can launch it with rage,
and hurl shallow expletives
like live hand grenades,
seeking to escape its flame
by finding someone else to blame.

Or we can bury it deep within,
covering it with masks or chemicals,
ashamed to lay our claim.

Or we can find an appropriate outlet,
channeling our passion
into something therapeutic,
if not cathartic.

And then there are those of us
whose prescription seems to be
the dangerous work of shaping
thought, emotion, and meaning
with the elemental blocks of words.

When your blood is the color
of ink, who's to say exactly
which you're spilling,
and how much is too much
or how little is not enough?

© 2014 Todd Jenkins

Monday, October 6, 2014


She's headed to Rainbow Bridge.
I remember the day she arrived,
a rescue from the shelter,
sure she was here to deliver us,
and she was absolutely right.

It was the holiday season,
and she couldn't stop singing;
crooning her malamute-mix soprano
to us as if she were the heavenly host,
welcoming messiah with her "in excelsis deo"
and so "Gloria" she became.

She also peed on the floor
each time she broke into song,
reminding us of all our own
perfect imperfections;
reflecting grace at every turn.

We’ll savor the memories:
canine alarm clock bounding into Holly’s bed;
chasing Gracie through the house;
a stranger never crossed her path,
everyone serenaded with gusto,
celebrating our incarnation,
reminding all of our core Godness.

Thanks, G! May we always remember
the way you looked into every soul
to both see and call forth
our divine spark, no matter how hidden.

© 2014 Todd Jenkins

Friday, October 3, 2014

Lead or Lead?

Which one do you mean?
The present tense verb
intimating the skill set required
to keep a body in motion?

Or Pb82, that heaviest
of non-radioactive elements,
most often equated with inertia?

It is the former that's heavy
on my heart today.
How can it be accomplished?
Let me count the ways!

When a body craves Pb82's properties,
and is either reluctant
to absorb kinetic energy
or recalcitrant toward all
but a narrow path,
leadership requires
flexibility and creativity.

Subversive and subliminal
are keys to the flow
of frozen molasses:
constant exposure to sunlight,
gradual warming, and a partial clearing
of the downstream debris field.

But there's one more thing,
more important than all the others combined;
the most brutal and beautiful of all:
recognizing that leadership
is really about being willing
to be led by anOther:

One who rarely reveals more
than an invitation to step out
into darkness, who dares us
to trust, whose signs
are often cryptic and late,
who asks us not to focus
on where or how,
but "Help!" and "Wow!"
Original photo from Trails for Kids, Fayetteville, TN
 © 2014 Todd Jenkins

Wednesday, October 1, 2014


Time flies, physical energy soars,
passion rises, laughter reverberates,
and joy is unleashed
when we are with friends;

not because we've found
someone who agrees with everything
and shares all our convictions;

but because we've found
someone who loves us enough
to let us be honest and unpretentious;

who learns our intimate details  
and the history that shapes us,
not through examination or inquisition

but voluntarily unfolded narrative,
piecemeal, over time, like a mini-series
to which we eagerly and regularly return;

who recognizes that differences
and disagreements are dwarfed
in the mutual field of integrity
that unfolds with each adventure.

Give me one such friend
and I can endure a thousand dramas
through which I feel pressed
to be less or more than my true self.
 Hiram M. Chittenden Locks, Seattle, WA

© 2014 Todd Jenkins