Monday, October 24, 2016

Here in Jericho

Haiku of generosity

Here in Jericho,
where the famed battle was fought,
other contests rage.

The tax-collector
climbs a sycamore's branches
for a better view.

The teacher invites
himself to the sinner's house;
he should know better.

The mean in spirit
call out generosity
shown to the worthless.

To this house: grace, hope,
salvation and life. He, too,
is a child of God.

The Son of Man came
to seek out those who struggle,
to befriend the lost.

© Ken Rookes 2016

and here's a golden oldie . . .  


The Bonsai Man

Zacchaeus the bonsai man,
growing stunted and gnarled;
his roots bound and starved
of human respect and affection.

Until the gardener looks up
into the twisted branches
of another tree, sees him,
calls him friend,

uproots him from the cruel pot
of judgement and derision
and offers him a plot
in the field of God’s kingdom.

There he can grow as God intends;
with space to send roots deep
into love, to stretch out his limbs,
and to be made fruitful.
© Ken Rookes

Monday, October 17, 2016

Not like other people

Attending the temple,
two men, one upright and proud,
one without merit.

The Pharisee stands,
eyes raised, confident and proud,
boasting before God.

I'm such a good man,
honest, diligent, faithful,
I fast and I tithe.

Go right ahead, God,
pour out your many blessings;
I am deserving.

The tax collector
stands apart from prying eyes;
head bowed to the ground.

Lowers his sad eyes,
aware of his need for grace;
God, be merciful.

They each return home.
The first untouched. The second
justified by God.

© Ken Rookes 2016

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

What a fool

"The fortunate thing here, again, is that God’s coming reign does not depend on us at all. God is at work for justice even when we are not. God loves and cares for all humanity even when we dehumanize and discard one another. God’s way of bringing justice is to join our suffering and redeem it, even when we suffer and visit suffering on one another. That is what we learn from Jesus way of being in the world.

And it is precisely this one who calls us and inspires us to follow this new way; just as God called people to resist oppression and form free societies here and elsewhere in the world; just as God called people to resist oppression with non-violence that lead to change in South Africa and India abroad, and in our cities and towns during the civil rights movement in our own nation over the last century. Those who lead these movements were people who understood that violent responses to injustice only breeds more violence and injustice. God’s way is to follow another path to freedom as oppression’s root cause, death, is made impotent by the resurrection of Jesus. The only question left is will we have the faith to participate in that freedom now? Or will we fail to see it and only hope and wonder why God is not answering our prayer the way that we want? In this case our persistent prayer is not about getting justice the way we want it so much as to connect us to God’s way of being in the world and to make us a part of his coming reign, which indeed is coming swiftly.
As they carry me to my grave one day, you might say, "He was crazy to believe all that time. What a fool." Maybe so. But the widow never turned away, never gave up, never lost heart. Neither will I. Neither will you. Amen.      "

Battle of Jacob and an Angel

Monday, October 10, 2016

Will he find faith on earth?

The Almighty,
according to this parable,
interpreted by one, Jesus,
who is also called God's son,
grants justice to those who seek it.
Whatever that means.
We could do with a bit more justice.
For refugees and asylum seekers,
women who are beaten,
children who are abused;
innocent victims
of air attacks,
lax gun laws,
racial bigotry, misogeny, and religious fear;
not to mention capitalism's excesses,
corrupt politicians
and dishonest jurists.
Like the judge in the parable.

We who seek justice, this story declares,
are encouraged to cry out day and night
to the aforesaid Almighty.
I might quietly suggest
that such crying out,
railing against such a raft of injustices,
loudly, persistently and annoyingly,
might in fact be the inconvenient duty
of all who follow Jesus.

© Ken Rookes 2016

Monday, October 3, 2016

Were not ten made clean?

Haiku of gratitude and surprise.

Ah, my friend, Jesus,
you travel to strange places,
sharing hope and love.

In the borderland
ten lepers cry to Jesus:
Have mercy on us!

Cleansing the lepers,
making real the reign of God,
revealing God's truth.

Just this foreigner.
The other nine, where are they?
Were not ten made clean?

Foreigners surprise
when they have more faith than us.
How embarrassing.

A Samaritan
is made the hero once more.
Another strange choice.

© Ken Rookes 2016

Monday, September 26, 2016

Mulberry tree messiness

Haiku of insecure faith

Lord, increase our faith.
Why do you make this request?
You have all you need.

A mustard seed faith
would see you directing trees
and they would obey!

What a metaphor
for faith that is sufficient;
the uprooted tree!

Hail mulberry tree!
Generous red stickiness
and messy fingers.

You have faith enough
to tread discipleship's path;
put it to good use.

Being uprooted,
with red mulberry tree faith
and sticky fingers.

© Ken Rookes 2016