Monday, August 29, 2016

Costing Discipleship

Haiku for intending acolytes.

Large crowds of people
travelled with the carpenter;
learning to follow.

Some went with Jesus
for curiosity's sake,
were yet to commit.

Jesus showed the way,
putting his life on the line
for love and justice.

Carrying the cross.
Try to guess what that might mean.
Will I qualify?

It's a costly thing,
the discipleship journey;
look where you're going.

Building a tower
or going into battle:
know what you're up for.

What will be the cost,
will you have enough to win?
Finish what you start.

Jesus calls us all.
Love's costly work is waiting;
Come with me, he says.



© Ken Rookes 2016

Monday, August 22, 2016

Haiku of humility and hospitality


Places of honour
are kept for the distinguished;
take the humble chair.

Maybe you'll be asked
to come to a higher seat;
but then, maybe not.

Better to be known
for grace and humility,
and to be content.

Hospitality
when you expect a return
does not count for much.

When giving banquets
invite the poor, the needy;
they can't return it.

Generosity
when it cannot be repaid
is tested and true.

Jesus lived it well;
his life, generous with love
and humility.


© Ken Rookes 2016

Monday, August 15, 2016

On the sabbath


Haiku for the religiously observant.

On the sabbath day
the afflicted woman came.
She asked no favours.

Eighteen years of pain,
with body bent and twisted;
Jesus called to her.

Freed by Jesus' words,
standing upright, rejoicing;
giving praise to God.

Religious leaders
speak to defend the sabbath
from such outrages.

Six days for working!
The seventh's not for healing;
come another day!

Get real, says Jesus.
Common sense and compassion
must rule ev'ry day.

Living is empty
if love no longer shapes us;
Embrace its freedom.

The crowd rejoices;
opponents are put to shame.
Don't mess with Jesus.


© Ken Rookes 2016

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

A tough passage

"This is a tough passage, and its not easy for us to hear Jesus speaking like this, and I don’t think it was so easy for the disciples either. If you look at the context in v41 – Peter is asking – um – all this stuff about being ready when the Son of Man comes – is that for us, or just for others –‘them’, the hoi polloi? And in answer Jesus tells another tough story about slacking on the job and getting a beating for it…. And you can imagine the look of horror on the disciples faces….. and I can just sense Jesus tearing his hair out, and losing it with them
 
“Look you morons, here am I, terrified of the baptism of death that faces me and all you can think about is whether or not you’ll get special privileges and dispensations! This isn’t a picnic you’ve chosen. Following me is hard. Its costly. Its not all sweetness and light and choosing the good bits, and the safe options – its about fire roaring through this world – cleansing and purging. Its about division and the sword. This life with me is a crisis point for you and for the world. It is so significant that it will cause major divisions within families and communities. Read the signs! Get real and stop playing!”
.....There was a popular book in business circles a few years back called “Surfing the Edge of Chaos”. It was written by a group of business people who observed nature as a way of understanding how best we can learn to organise ourselves. One of the key things they saw was that in nature – equilibrium – ie a stable state, is the precursor of death.
Only a system that maintains significant internal variety can withstand the threat of external variety. So the inter-tidal zone is the most fertile context for spontaneous mutation. This is a region swept by extremes – inundation and flood followed by drought and desiccation, and this amazing variety forces the system to the edge of chaos, and  demands that organisms adapt or die.  It is here that fish grew legs, and roots learnt to breathe. It is in the place of extremes that life comes forth.
 
Businesses and churches have to learn that equilibrium is life–threatening.  If we do not embrace risk and change, if we do not encourage extremes of experience and ideas, we will die. The birthing of peace, and all good things, is forged in the crucible of life lived on the edge of chaos; life that is open to risk and to new possibilities.  
 
And I think that this is what Jesus is talking about in this passage.
 
No wonder that churches are struggling to survive. We do not welcome change. We don’t like hearing people we disagree with. We don’t move much beyond our comfort zones, so we don’t nurture much internal variety, and then we are surprised that we are threatened by changes all around us!"

Nathan Nettleton - http://laughingbird.net/ComingWeeks.html

Monday, August 8, 2016

The present time

Some Haiku

Kindling the fire,
the one that burns so fiercely
divides day from night.

Division not peace.
Inevitable conflict:
darkness versus light.

Baptism the door,
not to comfort or respect;
life fulfilled by death.

Households will be split;
the ones who serve the kingdom,
the ones who do not.

I, disloyal son,
dared to defy my father;
wounding more than one.

The cloud, it rises
in the west to bring the rain.
The north wind scorches.

Register the wind,
read the signs of earth and sky;
interpret the times.


© Ken Rookes 2016

Monday, August 1, 2016

How are we defined?


It is hard to remain alert

Our houses are reliquaries.
The objects they hold have many shapes, colours and sizes;
some are valuable, and promise much.
We festoon our dwellings with chains and bolts fashioned from fear,
and security cameras, should the locks fail.
We will not be taken advantage of;
we will guard what we have.
Yes, we know these things are all just stuff;
precious, perhaps,
but stuff, nonetheless.
In time it will all be reduced to dust.
Still we take much comfort from our locks.

The disciple is to be prepared, alert;
so the ancient scripture enjoins.
This instructive text was written in those excited early years
when the imminent return of the master
was eagerly anticipated.
Jesus is coming; look busy!
After two millenia the sense of expectancy
has largely evaporated, at least for some of us.
For twenty-first century disciples
the urgent metaphors for faithful living –
being dressed for action and keeping our oil lamps burning –
must have some other purpose.


© Ken Rookes 2016