Monday, February 8, 2016

In the wilderness

There must be a thousand temptations,
any dozen of which assail us
in any given twenty-four hour period.
Each one is subtly different,
but when we collect them
and place them under a microscope
we find that they all share the same essential DNA;
that they have all evolved from the one stem.
Power, wealth, comfort,
(I must have that!)
To be left alone to enjoy a peaceful existence,
(somebody else's problem, not mine /
I've done my bit / am I my brother's keeper?)
To be free from pain, suffering
(and therefore to forsake the work of love).
These, and the countless others,
all share in the same evolutionary taxonomy.
One, three or a thousand,
we all face our temptations,
every day.
Like Jesus in his forty-day wilderness struggle,
and through the years that followed.
Every day we face our temptations
and hope, like him,
that we can overcome.

© Ken Rookes 2016

Friday, February 5, 2016

What should we do?

What should we do?

After this, a group of politicians brought a family before Jesus to accuse them.

“We caught these foreigners crossing our borders without permission,” their leader said. “How should we deal with them?”

“What do your laws say?” he asked them.

“Our laws permit us to send them far away, where they can be locked up among barbed wire, mosquitoes and despair,” said the leader.

“What have you to say for yourselves?” Jesus asked the family.

The man stepped forward. “Our land was filled with fear and fighting,” he said.

His wife stood at his side, as the children clung to her. “We gathered what we could and fled. We came here hoping to find a place of refuge; where our children could be safe and grow and thrive.”

“There!” exclaimed a woman. “You have heard it from their own lips, they deserve to be sent away. What do you say?”

Jesus crouched, and drew with his finger in the dust. Then he stood, looked about him and spoke. “Let the one who has never feared an election defeat be the one who turns the key.”

The crowd became enraged. They seized him and handled him roughly.

Their leader spoke. “You are nothing but a bleeding-heart lefty!” he said. “What would you know?”
Then they cast him headlong into a ditch; and dragged the family away.

Some other people saw what happened, and wept for shame. They went looking for Jesus. He was sitting on the side of the ditch, wiping the blood from his face.

“This is all wrong,” they said. “What should we do?”

Jesus stood up. Looking into their eyes he embraced each one, and said, simply, “Everything. We must do everything that we can.”

© Ken Rookes 2016.

Hiroshima and Transfiguration

What we have heard today requires a leap of imagination. Such an leap shouldn’t worry those skeptical scientists because they use their imagination day in and day out, imagining the seconds after the big bang, the coupling of sperm and ovum, the sudden appearance of a new galaxy. Physicists work with light, as do makers of cinema, as do teachers.

...On this day, 6th August in 1945, at 8.15am, one atomic device nicknamed Little Boy was dropped on Hiroshima, then three days later, 'Fat Man' devastated Nagasaki, the Christian city of Japan: These strangely named bombs  reduced the people of these Japanese cities to ash, leaving survivors to carry in their bodies unseen radiation. The flash of the explosion has been called the light brighter than a thousand suns. Photographs of people who looked at the nuclear flash show that they had their eyes burnt out.
Since that morning in 1945 we have lived under a nuclear cloud, a radioactive fog. Notice how the images of light, and sleep and fear are in both Hiroshima and the light of Jesus.  

On witnessing the first test of the atomic bomb Robert Oppenheimer later said:
We knew the world would not be the same. A few people laughed, a few people cried, most people were silent.

I remembered the line from the Hindu scripture, "Now, I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds."
Today, along with all nuclear States, we must pray that Israel is released from fear, and gives up its attempt to gain security with nuclear devastation. That prayer also includes Australia, prepared to accept nuclear protection by allying with the United States, the so-called Christian nation.
Our true safety comes not from fear and anxiety prompted by the atomic cloud; but from the God of life whose light heals and gives hope for life.

So, today we are presented with two names: Hiroshima and Transfiguration.
Hiroshima, with its devastation, stands as a warning of the devastation we can unleash;
The Transfiguration of Jesus has the liberating power to bring us to the light of the Creator who wants all to flourish.

Aren’t Christians called to be the first to seek the abolition of nuclear devices, and the first to celebrate for all a world without weapons?

So let us go from here trusting the God who in the beginning broke the darkness, and with light utterly transformed Jesus,
chose him to be the Beloved Son, fed him at his mother’s breast, anointed him with the Spirit; and is calling a company of people marked by his light.

Let yourself be claimed by this same God of light. Take hold of Jesus Christ whose light was witnessed on the mountain and in his resurrection. Join in his celebration of life.
Rev Dr Wes Campbell (for full sermon see sermons page)

Monday, February 1, 2016

The opening of eyes

The Opening of Eyes, by David Whyte
That day I saw beneath dark clouds 
the passing light over the water
and I heard the voice of the world speak out,
I knew then, as I had before
life is no passing memory of what has been
nor the remaining pages in a great book
waiting to be read.
It is the opening of eyes long closed.
It is the vision of far off things
seen for the silence they hold.
It is the heart after years
of secret conversing
speaking out loud in the clear air.
It is Moses in the desert
fallen to his knees before the lit bush.
It is the man throwing away his shoes
as if to enter heaven
and finding himself astonished,
opened at last,
fallen in love with solid ground.

Transfiguration coloring

Don't just do something! Stand there!

Saul Alinsky, a community organizer from Chicago, once said "Don’t just do something. Stand there!" In your own experience, how do people react after an encounter with mystery (for example in worship, beautiful scenery, listening to music)? Do you give yourself space for reflection of these things, or is there too much activity in life to allow an appreciation of glory? What space have you for the encounter with glory? Is there too much pressure in the world to allow us to reflect on God’s glory appropriately?  When was the last time you were astonished at the greatness of God?
"Let's stay here forever! Can't we go past noon, just this one Sunday?"

Are we missing out because we are too busy?

Mountain Haiku Sequence

Come with me, he says
to Peter, James and John;
time to climb up high-

Mountain-top prayers
where earth and heaven come close;
connecting the two.

Wonder and light. Ah,
these things take away one's breath;
eyes and hearts grow wide.

Moses, Elijah
standing there, bleached and glowing;
speaking mysteries.

The one they followed
also shines, shares the wonder.
Who can this man be?

A cloud, descending,
hides the light-washed ones from view;
then the voice thunders.

It speaks approval:
He is my Son, the chosen;
listen to his words.

The cloud is lifted.
The four remain in silence,
alone with their thoughts.

© Ken Rookes 2016