Monday, September 1, 2014

Myth, par excellence.

Myth, par excellence.

Our intention is to gather
some suitably approved historians;
direct them to collect the stories,
interrogate the documents,
and compile them into a seamless narrative
(We will, of course,
be downplaying the embarrassing bits
and other parts that might discomfort us.)
Thus we shall create for ourselves a History
that we can be proud of.
With some further prodding and kneading,
some teasing-out and coaxing,
and with suitable invocations of the Divine,
we shall recite our story and rehearse it
until it solidifies into a Myth.
A real one, grand and inviolate,
upon which we can build
our tribe / religion / nation.

In ancient Israel,
a remembering meal
is appointed, prepared
and written into law.
This annual repast,
laden with food and symbol,
commemorates a journey
to freedom and nationhood;
one which is tragically interleaved
with dying and grief.
A Passover meal,
to celebrate a divine passing over;
salvation and life for the chosen ones.
For others, sorrow, bitterness
and death.

But that’s okay,
we will cope;
as long as nobody questions
the Myth.

© Ken Rookes 2014

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Burning bush

Paul Koli

you are a fire always burning ...

You are a fire always burning but never consuming; you are a fire consuming in your heat all the soul's selfish love; you are a fire lifting all chill and giving light. In your
light you have made me know your truth: You are that light beyond all light who gives the mind's eye supernatural light in such fullness and perfection that you bring clarity even to the light of faith. In that faith I see that my soul has life, and in that light receives you who are Light.

Catherine of Siena

Monday, August 25, 2014

Make haste to be kind

"In the early Christian communities to whom Matthew and Paul wrote, there was a strong sense that the Kingdom of God was coming soon. The familiar blessing paraphrased from the Swiss philosopher and poet Henri Frédéric Amiel synthesizes Jesus’ admonition and Paul’s advice: Life is short and we do not have too much time to gladden the hearts of those who travel this journey with us, so be quick to love and make haste to be kind.
Jesus, in revealing that the messianic era is imminent, also explains how the disciples are to live in the intervening time: They are to live with the paradox of faith. One of the great paradoxes of Christianity is that the Messiah must suffer and die before he is raised to eternal life. This paradox makes a concrete statement of the Christological idea that Jesus is the embodiment of both the reality of the divine and the reality of this world. Jesus even issues his instructions to the disciples in the form of a paradox: “For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.”
We are to live the way of the great “I Am” and the glorious “I shall be.” We are to live a life of reverent prayer and a life of faithful action. We are to live as if we have not much time and as if we have all the time in the world.
German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote from prison, as he faced suffering with great faith:
“What remains for us is only the very narrow path, sometimes barely discernible, of taking each day as if it were the last and yet living it faithfully and responsibly as if there were yet to be a great future.”
This is the divine way. It is also the human way. This is the mystery and the paradox of faith."

Take your shoes off!

(see sermons page for full sermon)

I can remember adults shouting at me when I was a child, “Put some shoes on!” so it is welcoming to hear someone say, “Take your shoes off”.
It came as a surprise to hear people reading the story of Moses’ meeting with God and using an angry voice as if God was saying, “Take off your shoes, you stupid man. Don’t you recognise Holy Ground when you see it!” Maybe they were remembering a parent saying, “How many times do I have to tell you to take your shoes off when you come inside.  I've just washed that floor” or “You’re getting mud on the carpet!”
Our life experiences have an impact on the way we see ourselves and others and the way we see God. For instance, I see God as saying these words in a welcoming way; “Relax and make yourself at home”. God could be speaking in a playful way, implying, “Take off your shoes and give your toes a wiggle in the sand”. Or God could be caring, like saying, “Your shoes must be killing you. Feel free to take them off.”
Maybe some think that God was outraged by Moses’ curiosity and was saying, “How dare you approach ME with your shoes on!”
It is just as plausible that God was reassuring Moses, “This is safe ground. You don’t need shoes for protection here. I invite you to make yourself comfortable”. God may have been inviting Moses to retreat, come away from his everyday life to spent some time with God.
Depending on how we see God, one or another of these, or even a different interpretation may seem closest to what we think was actually going on in this exchange. This either reinforces what we always thought or challenges us to see in a new way.
It is not only challenging how we see God. It also relates to what shoes mean in our society. Christianity is one of the few religions of the world which doesn’t require people to remove their shoes when they enter a sacred place. For most people round the world, removing shoes shows respect.
Has our attitude to bare feet come about because, in our culture, we see shoes as status and fashion symbols? We have expressions such as ‘well shod’ and ‘down at heel’ which indicate what shoes might say to us

Are we ready to take off our shoes and engage with the work to which we are called?
REv Julianne Parker

From that time on.

From that time on

That day,
when he called us together
and gave us the talk,
changed everything;
our lives included.
No going back to the easy excitement
of those earlier times, halcyons,
when the message was new,
along with the company.

We move on.
The journey becomes more determined,
the actions more considered;
the serious stuff has begun.
It was never a light thing,
but now we talk openly
of the struggles,
the suffering,
the dying.

This chosen road passes
from light to darkness,
and back to light again.
It takes us into the shadowed places,
the dim corners of a world
that waits yearningly for a coming;
for those who might bear even a glimmer,
the smallest spark
of defiant hope.

From that time on
we began to be disciples.

© Ken Rookes 2014