Wednesday, August 3, 2016

We're Moving

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Thank you,

Monday, July 18, 2016

Preachin' One

It's three quarters-past 10 on a Sunday
The regular crowd shuffles in
The usuals all have their special seats
Sit there once; just don't do it again!

And the ushers have handed out bulletins
And told you to silence your phone
We're here sharing a prayer we call brokenness
‘Cause it's better than prayin' alone

La la la, di da dala la, di da da da dum

Tell us a tale, you're the preachin' one
Tell us a tale today
Well, we're all in the mood for a parable
And you've got us leanin' that way. 

It's a pretty good crowd for a holiday
And the treasurer gives me a nod
But he knows it's NOT me
they've been comin' to see
'Cause they wanna get closer to God

And the folks in the pews are a happy lot
Like family, they're quick to share cheer
And they all sit up straight
and throw cash in the plate,
And say, "Rev, what are you doin' here?"

La la la, di da dala la, di da da da dum

Saint Paul was a traveling evangelist
who never had time for a wife
He wrote congregations
from all sorts of nations
Teaching grace as a new way of life

We are gathered to kindle a memory
Though it seems we've forgotten the plot
So it hurts and it heals
When it gets in our feels
But this story is all that we've got.

Tell us a tale you're the preachin' one
Tell us a tale today
Well, we're all in the mood for a parable
And you've got us leanin' that way

Now Joan, in the choir, is a friend of mine
She sings from her heart so free
She listens a while
And she's quick with a smile
Though there are parts she just won't let us see

She passes me a note as the service ends
"Your sermons offer sacred space, 
But the life that I lead is so far from that 
Please pray I can live and breathe grace."

Oh, la la la, di da dala la, di da da da dum

Tell us a tale you're the preachin' one
Tell us a tale today
Well, we're all in the mood for a parable
And you've got us leanin' that way

© 2016 Todd Jenkins

Thursday, July 14, 2016


It's that limited curiosity
 overwhelmed with fear,
  keeping us from
   opening ourselves wide
    to the universe's wild imaginings;

     so hunkered down
      in our own little world,
       trying to hang onto
        and control everything possible,

         that grace dances
          right under our noses
           completely unnoticed,
            love sings harmony
             we cannot hear,
              life wafts beyond us.

               © 2016 Todd Jenkins

Tuesday, July 12, 2016


Photo by Kendall Cox
 What if the 1950s
weren't the church's heyday
but instead, were its days of sloth,
when there was no competition
and all we had to do
was open our doors and everyone
would come, because there was
nowhere else to go and nothing else
 to do on Sunday morning?

What if we need to develop
a completely different model
for being church in a world
long past the simplicity
of unquestioned exclusivity?

What if the torn fabric
of our culture has much less
to do with its failure
to rigidly adhere to our
own particular list
of biblically extracted behaviors,

and is much more about
our own lack of enthusiasm
for practicing grace together
in communities where all have both
a seat and voice at the table?

What if the church's purpose
is to equip members
to reflect hope, share love,
and nourish a hungry and thirsty world
with heaping servings
of dignity, humility, and respect?

What if we actually put
our time, energy, hearts, and money
into doing just that, instead
of trying to figure out how
to get back to the "good old days"?

© 2016 Todd Jenkins

Friday, July 8, 2016

As If

Sculpture by Sterling Goller-Brown

Two logs were set afire.
  Some closed their eyes,
    minding their own business,
      as if wood wasn't really burning,

    while others critiqued, judged,
  and blamed the logs themselves,
as if it were spontaneous combustion.

Then five more logs were
  tossed into the fire.
    As the incendiary heat rises,
      it's difficult for any trees
        to deny the inferno.

      We can keep thumping matches
    across the strike-pad, or
  we can dig trenches around
our own little grove, or

we can speak and act with conviction,
  so that no more fuel is added,
    no more logs are lost.

What's it going to be?

© 2016 Todd Jenkins

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Too High

The cost is outrageous
for all these priceless lives,
secretly calculated in hearts too small
to hold Love's grand truth;

too scared to see
all of us have the same value;
too busy counting and comparing
to feel the ground beneath us quaking,
the skies above us leaking.

We shrink because we sense difference,
recoil with superiority's confidence,
while the universe expands and
diversifies, and the holy one weeps.

© 2016 Todd Jenkins

Tuesday, July 5, 2016


Ichawaynochaway Creek, Newton, GA

When, "Our thoughts and
prayers are with you."
becomes the end and
not the means,
we have lost
our spiritual momentum.

   Too often, we see prayer
   as a request for God
   to move, so we don't have to.

      The core of prayer is
      a shifting of hearts;
      primarily our own.

         We speak our angst,
         cry our frustration,
         groan the unspeakable;

      and in the stillness between
      syllables, tears, and breaths,
      a different note vibrates.

   Maybe it's a new note,
   perhaps a dissonant one;
   but, always, it calls us
   toward the circle.

Whatever else we imagine
it to be, prayer is a request
for inclusion in the sacred journey.

If you're willing to move,
but don't know where or how,
let your heart speak.

The rest is not up to you,
but you will likely
find yourself up to it.

© 2016 Todd Jenkins

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Looking Glass

Photo by Lee Lindsey McKinney

Once we identify the image 
in the mirror 
as the single common denominator 
in all our problems, 
all our relationships, 
and all our stories, 

as well as the only person, place, 
or thing over which we have 
even an illusion of control, 
we have found the beginning point 
for healthy relationships. 

The next step requires putting down 
the looking glass and giving ourselves 
to make a difference 
in someone else's life; 

neither offering to fix, advise, 
or change them, nor pretending 
to be or do anything more or less 
than who we really are and that 
of which we're truly capable. 

Don't wait for perfection or 
understanding to begin, 
and do not demand either of these 
in yourself or others along the way. 

Lead with your heart, 
and let grace map 
each step of the way. 
Today is always a new day 
in each journey. 

© 2016 Todd Jenkins

Wednesday, June 22, 2016


One of the churches I drive past regularly on my way to and from work recently had this message on its sign: 

Time is short,
hell is hot. 
Jesus is coming,
ready or not. 

The sign's sentiments seem to indicate:
(1) an attempt to scare heaven into passersby; and
(2) our religious-cultural generation's focus on securing an individual spot in a divinely favored afterlife. 

In my experience, you can scare the hell out of people, at least briefly, but heaven - or more significantly, love - cannot be instilled by fear, even for a little while. 

When fear of afterlife outcomes becomes the starting point and the focus, at the expense of living the grace of Jesus Christ in the here and now, congregations and institutional religion will continue to decline. The church that nurtures faith in the long run will be the one that offers hope and grace to a world of people who have been declared unacceptable by a culture of judgment and competition. 

My sign would offer this alternative:

Life is short, 
live what you've got. 
Grace abounds,
 noticed or not. 

© 2016 Todd Jenkins
Old Stone Fort Archaeological Park
Manchester, TN

Monday, June 20, 2016


Shall we cry you a river
  with the tears of our angst
    over our continued refusal
      to put Mother Earth
      and her life-blood
    on equal footing
  with exploitative
economic enterprises?

The collective lament
  of those who recognize
    our systemic rape
    and plunder of creation
  cannot restore,and may not
ameliorate this abuse,

but cheek’s glistening trail
  can remind us all
    of the universe's plaintive call
  to tread gently, leaving
ego, fear, and greed behind,

thinking long-range,
  recognizing and living
    our interdependence.
  Will it be enough?
Will we listen?

© 2016 Todd Jenkins

Monday, June 13, 2016

For you

Photo by Becky Johnson

Here we gather,
nothing like a museum
for the righteous, but
rather, a healing place
for those in search of grace.

   Here we rise,
   joining our voices
   with a long line of dreamers,
   cairn-stacking narratives
   of resurrection against
   a sea of indifference,
   hoping against hope
   that love will win.

Here we go,
sent out into
valleys of despair,
reflecting the forgiveness
we have received,
wrapping the whole world
in the gentleness with which
we've been covered.

         Here we are,
         for you.

© 2016 Todd Jenkins

Tuesday, June 7, 2016


In our interpersonal lives
we are constantly creating conflict
as well as being drawn
into conflict created by others.

  Exacerbation occurs when blindness,
  ego, denial, and indifference
  cause each of us to blame the other,
  refusing both responsibility and
  engagement in remediation.

    When this sort of behavior
    is practiced on a societal
    or international level,
    we are directly participating
    in the creation and escalation
    of our own enemies,
    whether our differences are
    political, economic, or other.

  As long as weaponization
  and violence are both our initial
  and primary tools for interaction,
  there will be no peace
  and no amelioration.

We'll either have to detonate
all the weapons and
outlive all the warmongers, or
genuinely commit ourselves
to something more magnanimous
before there'll be hope
for a different outcome.

© 2016 Todd Jenkins

Tuesday, May 31, 2016


The gift and miracle
of Emmaus is not disappearance,
but presence; not road presence
or table presence,
which were temporary,
but presence internal and eternal.

  The physical Christ of conversation –
  the material messiah of flesh-and-blood –
  is no longer with us, because he is in us.

    Eucharist is our regular reminder
    of this gift; our invitation
    to re-member – to reconfirm
    our membership –
    into the body of Christ.

      © 2016 Todd Jenkins

Saturday, May 28, 2016


Old Stone Fort Archaeological Park
Manchester, TN

We need to uncreate the world
  that desires more for less,
    no matter the cost
      to planet and other people;

        the world that has profit
      as its bottom line, and
    views the rest of creation
  as a means to the ends
of accumulation and consumption.

My hunch and experience are
  that most of us can
    only see this necessity
      clearly in the context
        of our profound brokenness.

      Grace, love, and
    our deepest interconnection
  are most visible when all
of our faux identities crumble.

If the rest of the world is going
  to recognize and hunger for this,
    we, as a community of believers,
      must become sentinels of hope
    instead of wagging fingers of judgment,
  fountains of grace, rather
than fires of condemnation.

        We must confess our own
      shambled lives and live
    from a foundation of grace
  before God's mercy will ever
ring true for the world. 

© 2016 Todd Jenkins

Tuesday, May 24, 2016


Photo by Linzi Anderson

Fear is afraid of everyone and
everything, including itself,
ever shrinking into a smaller box,
but pretending to loom large,
with ferocious bark
and inflated posturing.

   The small minded and hearted
   seek to divide the world
   into "us" and "them",
   never quite convinced
   that you or I or anyone else
   fully belong to "us";

      ever ready to banish us all
      to permanent Themville.
      But somewhere beneath
      the fearful veneer lies

a lonely, hungry soul,
never willing to admit it,
but desperately longing
to be invited into sacred "we"
and even holy "one".

© 2016 Todd Jenkins

Tuesday, May 17, 2016


The chasm between human and divine
is largely dug by perspective.
Beyond the realization
of the limits of our own,
God approaches with our
recognition of someone else's.

   The holy is infused when
   our reality is secure enough
   to avoid the dizziness
   of multiple focal points.

Anchored in the self of God,
we can see, hear, smell, touch,
and even taste the universe's complexity
without needing to validate
one perspective over others.

© 2016 Todd Jenkins

Tuesday, May 10, 2016


Privatization is the power charging
the flashlight of capitalism.

  When its acid leeches into the switch
  of connection, there’s an inability
  to distinguish between good and evil,
  a failure to distinguish on from off.

    When it corrodes the chamber
    of community, cooperation is voided
    in favor of competition and victory.

  When it interferes with the bulb of hope,
  more heat than light is generated,
  more hoarding than loving.

Despite the individuation
of our own economies,
the universe holds all in God’s trust.

© 2016 Todd Jenkins