Wednesday, March 4, 2015

A warning

Jesus Cleansing the Temple, Jeffrey Weston.

 I read the cleansing of the temple as a stark warning against any and every false sense of security. Misplaced allegiances, religious presumption, pathetic excuses, smug self-satisfaction, spiritual complacency, nationalist zeal, political idolatry, and economic greed in the name of God are only some of the tables that Jesus would overturn in his own day and in ours. Church is more than a place to enjoy a night of bingo or to reinforce my many prejudices and illusions. Thank God, then, for the Psalm for this week which concludes with a prayer that is wonderfully appropriate this Lenten season: "Who can discern his errors? Forgive my hidden faults. Keep your servant from willful sins; may they not rule over me...May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer" (Psalm 19:12–14). 

Monday, March 2, 2015

Getting away with it

Wandering around
on the fringes of respectability
and caring nothing for the good regard
of the religious establishment,
Jesus pulled a ‘Pussy Riot’ protest
in the sacred precincts of the temple.
He left behind a chaos of coins and cattle,
upturned tables,
and a whip of cords.

He seemed to have gotten away with it.
They didn’t arrest him,
or throw him, Baptist-like, into prison;
things eventually settled down.
The teacher got on with his unorthodox life,
roving the land in his capacity
as a no-fixed-address itinerant,
outrageously telling it like it was.

Those in authority,
the Chief Priests and the others,
played it cool.
They righted the tables,
rounded up the livestock,
and gathered together the discarded cords.
These they plaited into rope enough;
and waited for the moment.
The arrest, incarceration,
and much worse,
would come.

© Ken Rookes 2015.

reclaiming the 'Holy'

Almost daily we are learning more about creation and as we have our eyes, ears, minds and hearts open to the possibilities, we can be continually in awe of the implications of God’s love in every small detail of what we observe. We cannot help but worship the Creator.
What a tremendous privilege it is to be living at this time when new methods of communication allow us to be privy to the wonderings of others. We owe a great debt to the likes of David Attenborough and National Geographic. We can be fed daily on a diet of TV and radio shows that amaze us with new information about everything from nano to light year size. The glory of the Lord that the heavens now reveal to us is vastly more that the people of the time of David could have ever imagined.
The writer of Psalm 19 which is set for today knew and showed, by what he wrote, that worshipping God was about contemplating creation. What things would you select to include if you were to rewrite this Psalm today? What is most awesome of the things you have learnt recently? Today on the radio they have been talking about the malaria parasites which are animals that behave more like  vegetables and so they are looking at herbicides that might possible kill them.
Jesus had every right to be angry with the traders in the temple. In selling animals and bids for sacrifices, they were showing that they had not grown up in their understanding of God. They wanted to stay with the childish practices of sacrifices. Several of the prophets had tried to tell them God hated their sacrifices. What God wanted was for them to act with justice and mercy. They were inclined to worship the temple. It had become for them and idol. They were also exploiting the poor by charging exorbitant prices for the animals.
May we be brave as Jesus was in the stand he took in the Temple against corruption. May we dare to practice situation ethics when deciding right behaviour and not be bound by unjust laws. May we be brave in reclaiming the word “Holy”. May we reclaim the Sabbath day of rest to have time to smell the roses. It is a wonderful gift from God for us.              
REv Julianne Parker (see sermons page for full sermon)                                                                                                                       

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

"at Lent God speaks and acts in ways that are different from the ways of the world, and different from what I might expect or notice if I don't pay careful attention.

There is anger abroad in the world, a numb thunder,
because of God's silence. But how naive,
to keep wanting words we could speak ourselves,
English, Urdu, Tagalog, the French of Tours,
the French of Haiti.

Yes, that was one way omnipotence chose
to address us-Hebrew, Aramaic, or whatever the patriarchs
chose in their turn to call what they heard. Moses
demanded the word, spoken and written. But perfect freedom
assured other ways of speech. God is surely
patiently trying to immerse us in a different language,
events of grace, horrifying scrolls of history
and the unearned retrieval of blessings lost for ever,
the poor grass returning after drought, timid, persistent.
God's abstention is only from human dialects. The holy voice
utters its woe and glory in myriad musics, in signs and portents.
Our own words are for us to speak, a way to ask and to answer.

Denise Levertov

Lent is a liberating reminder that I'm not stuck. Because God speaks in new voices and in unexpected ways, change can come. Renewal is possible. And in the ultimate Christian mystery that awaits us a few Sundays from now, even physical death leads to resurrection life."

Monday, February 23, 2015

Divine things

All around us,
divine things;
elusive butterflies of different hues
catching the light and reflecting it
in rainbow colours, flashing
as they flap their delicate wings.
From shade into brightness
and back into the shadows they flutter;
intermittently visible,
persistently present, fragile.

Tears and generosity,
humility, sacrifice, and discomforting truth,
these things; born out of love,
and vulnerable. Like god.
They dance, unconstrained,
through the dappled sunlight,
precariously present.              
Divine things,
all around us, (and within);
keep your eyes upon them.

© Ken Rookes 2015

Names for God

It is said that the Hindu people have a thousand names for God and that the Muslims have ninety-nine name for Allah. In Christianity, we have largely limited our names for God to Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The titles Messiah, Christ and Lord all have the same meaning, that of military leader/commander in chief.
In their minds, the disciples had named Jesus, Messiah. The problem was that their understanding of that name was quite different from how Jesus understood his work. When he tried to explain clearly that this meant he would be killed if he continued, his followers did not want to hear. They were even more reluctant to hear that he wanted them to be willing to follow the same path.
The name that Jesus gave to himself, son of man, the church has written with capital letters as with Son of God. But this may not have been Jesus’ use of the term. At the time it was a common way people referred to themselves.

The question comes for us today, which stage of development are we at in our lives of faith as individuals and as congregations. Is our name the most important thing? Are we clinging to who we are because we are not yet certain of who we are for God? Have we just moved far enough into the second stage to be critical of others while not being secure enough to face all of who we are? Are we willing to die to all that we think we are and think we know for sure to grow into the wisdom of the mystery of God who is beyond all names and follow the wisdom of Jesus’ teaching?
Rev Julianne Parker
(for full sermon see sermons page)