Monday, March 23, 2015

God's encouragement

Since the story of the resurrection has been known it has been an encouragement for those who are experiencing suffering, whatever its cause. There are several places in the gospels which seem to indicate that Jesus knew that he would rise again after three days. Why then was he so distressed at this time? After all, it would soon be all over! If we believe that Jesus was truly human he could not have had this knowledge and scholars believe these passages were written with the benefit of hindsight.
It can be encouraging for people to read of the experiences of how others coped with adversity two and a half thousand years ago and how Jesus did two thousand years ago, but it is also encouraging to hear stories since then and in particular, in our time. Feelings associated with difficult times are similar today to those experienced by the Psalmist, by Isaiah and by Jesus. It is good to know God is with us in these experiences now.

We may speak of the encouragement we have received through experiences of God’s action in the lives of others. These people may be seen as special, not ordinary folk like us. We are often reluctant to tell of the encouragement we have received through the experience of God’s love in our own lives even though we know it will help others because we fear being ridiculed as Isaiah was. God still wakens our ears to listen, to be strengthened, to have the words to encourage and sustain the weary. God answers our desperate prayers with encouraging reassurances that all we will need for this day will be provided.
Rev Julianne Parker 
(for full sermon see sermons page)

Sunday, March 22, 2015



In Willowra

languorous donkeys make their way

along the paved roads and unsealed streets,

chomping on their grassy tucker.

They move at an easy pace.

Sometimes they stroll across invisible boundaries,

disturbing packs of proprietorial dogs

These rouse themselves from shaded slumber,

to dustily defend their family’s territory

by chasing the offending beasts away.

The two-legged inhabitants of this community,

unlike their canine companions,

mostly leave the donkeys alone.

Like all of their kind,

the donkeys of Willowra

prefer a quiet life.

In Bethpage, near Jerusalem,

the colt of a donkey was, for a time,

wrenched from its stillness

and prevailed upon to carry a man into the city.

The procession was noisy,

with flourished cloaks and branches

thrown excitedly upon the road

in front of the shy, equine creature;

all the way to the temple.

A few hours later it was all over.

The colt was dismissed

and allowed to return to his gentle ruminations.

For the man who rode him,

the ruckus had just begun.

© Ken Rookes 2015.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Unless a grain of wheat dies!

Living a true life

I struggle with the idea that we are called to 'hate' our lives. But i think that what Jesus was doing doing was calling us beyond a shallow definition of living to a deeper, truer path.
On hating one's life: Jesus did NOT mean that we are to hate ourselves. We are children of God and how can we hate God's creation? He also did NOT mean to hate our jobs or our homes, or our marriages, or anything that we DO on this earth. What we DO is only a superficial part of our lives. And he did NOT mean the disregard for life that comes from being depressed and leads to suicide. He was not talking about killing ourselves (as in suicide, or suicide bombing), but being killed for a higher good.

What Jesus meant is that we are not to be so attached to our life that we can't see anything more important than it; than 'me'. When we 'hate' our life, we are willing to give it up for the sake of something good... for the sake of God, or truth, or justice, or love. In a real sense i think that to 'hate' our life in the way Jesus speaks of is to love what is true and meaningful and beautiful in life, not what is hollow or false. It is to live a life of Love.

The challenge of God's law within us

In the Gospel reading, we heard Jesus say that unless a grain of wheat falls to the earth it remains a single grain, but if it dies, it bears much fruit. This could be another way of expressing the idea that the primary goal for Christians is not their own comfort and advancement but to do everything possible to encourage others to life in all its fullness. We know that the seed falling to the ground does not die. In fact, if it did die, it would produce little except a minute amount of nutrients for another plant. What happens when the seed falls to the ground is that it comes in contact with the ground of all being which enables all the hidden potential of the seed to be released and to flourish.
Christians for the main have aspired to move away from earthiness rather than towards it. Why has the Church thought that grand buildings were what brought glory to God? Does a great cathedral, which was built at the cost of many lives both in the actual building and in the cost it was to the poor people of the district show more of God’s glory than a single sprouting seed? It depends on how you see glory. Do we see the glory of God’s humble goodness or is it the power and wealth of Empires we see? Such buildings show how clever humans are rather than the glory of God..
Being prepared to lay down our lives is about acting humbly rather than showing how great we are. The world by now might be quite different if the Church had remained an example of the humility of God rather than its idea of the glory of God? If we had taken note of what God told Moses about the glory of God being goodness, if we had heard the prophets telling us that God hated the way the people worshiped and that what God wanted was justice, mercy and humility, the whole world might be different.

God has made a new covenant with us and put God’s law with in us. God has given us many gifts, fruit and abilities to enable us to become more Christlike. We have the responsibility  to trust these are sufficient for us to behave as Jesus behaved and calls us to do.
Rev Julianne Parker
(for full sermon see sermons page)


He was elevated.
It was not for the purposes of admiration or acclaim;
a strange glorification.

The crudely fashioned wooden platform
is no pedestal.
What, then, shall we call it,

this instrument of shame and death;
conveniently named for its shape
rather than its purpose? No matter,

the two have been conflated
over the millennia.
There is, however, no convenience in death.

No, that is not true.
It is all a matter
of where you are standing.

Lifted from the earth,
three metres, four at the most,
anchored to earth’s rocks and dust

not by nails driven cruelly into timber,
but by cords;
willing ribbons of love.

© Ken Rookes 2015.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

preferring darkness to the light

"...we can be critical of the Israelites as they wandered. We don’t actually know exactly how long it took them to reach their destination. Someone reminded me recently that it is a journey of less them a week on foot if you go directly from Egypt to the Promised Land. But when you are in the wilderness of grief, it can seem a long, long time and many times you wonder if you will ever make it to the other side. Like the Israelites, it can help us to have something held in front of us by a friend, to remind us that God still cares even when we feel we are being attacked on all sides. We can hang on to the knowledge of Christ and the message from the Gospel of John that God did not send Jesus to judge or to condemn us but to save us.
It is not at all unusual for grieving people to feel they are being condemned by others who think they should be over it or just forget about it and get on with their lives. People who have suffered loss do not need to be further traumatised by the use of Scripture that condemns them and seems to show God as harsh and uncaring.
It has been pointed out [Richard Rohr] that Jesus selectively emphasised texts that revealed his God as good, faithful, inclusive and merciful. And he created stories and healing events to communicate that point. Jesus consistently ignored passages that reveal God as punitive, exclusionary, imperialistic, small or tribal.  The Gospel reading set for today [John 3: 19-21] talks about people preferring darkness to the light which has come into the world. Concentrating on passages about God sending poisonous snakes is preferring darkness to the light which Jesus shines on God."
Rev Julianne Parker
(for full sermon see sermons page)