Monday, October 5, 2015

How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God.

The wealthy,
while offering in principle support
for the concept of kingdom of God,
find the idea that God might want to direct
the ways that money is used
or disposed of,
somewhat disturbing.

Riches are from God, they assert;
our prosperity is proof enough
that we are virtuous and good.
The Lord would not have so blessed us
if it were otherwise.

With wealth comes responsibility;
we understand that,
and we take our obligations seriously.
Assistance must be provided
for widows and orphans;
the scriptures are strong on that point.
But the poor, as a category,
includes a range of people:
wastrels, profligates, intemperates and such,
not all of them deserving of our largesse.

When it comes to generosity,
it's best to err on cautions side.
A charitable trust, perhaps;
with appropriate tax benefits.

© Ken Rookes 2015

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Living with the questions

One of the puzzling things about the testing of Job is the lack of a clear purpose. One could maybe think that there was a point to it if he was being considered for a major role such as Moses had in leading the people from Egypt t the Promised Land.
Ultimately, the major test for us seems to be, can we sit with the questions? Can we have faith and trust God in areas we can never understand? In my personal struggle with this, there have been times when all I could say was, “I believe God is, that God exists. What is happening in my life is such that I am unable to see God as Love or as caring, merciful and compassionate.” It has sometimes felt as though God was playing with me as a cat plays with a mouse. One of my sisters said when my daughter-in-law died suddenly, “How many more experiences do you need to have to identify with the pain of others?” Perhaps there is some truth in this question.

Mystics call the ability to live with the questions one of the greatest blessings. They strive to live in the moment, trusting that God is and that ultimately all is well. Should we take the bad things from God as well as the good and give thanks for all things? Well, I would say it is worth giving it a try and may you receive many blessings in it as I have.
Rev Julianne Parker (for full sermon see sermons page)

Monday, September 28, 2015

These men

These men, leaders among their people,
strut their masculine importance
as they confidently command the teacher’s attention.
They put forward their testing question;
it has a decided hint of misogyny,
and more than a suggestion of male power.
Is it OK for a man to remarry
after discarding his woman?
Is it OK to use and abuse,
to beat and mistreat,
and to replace with a younger model,
the old one, when she has become worn and tired?

Your hearts are hard, impervious,
he tells them,
shaped by millennia of patriarchy and law.
But no, it isn’t right
for a man to do so;
nor a woman, for that matter.
Your partnerings are from God.
Your intimate comings together, too,
are precious gifts;
celebrate their blessings
and allow them to flourish.

© Ken Rookes 2015

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

What does prayer mean for you?

What does prayer mean for you? God is the great Mystery we can barely begin to know and yet, paradoxically, are called to know and prayer often seems even more of a mystery and paradox. Many people can give examples of prayer being answered and maybe even more of prayer seeming not to be answered. When you start talking about frustration with unanswered prayer, people are likely to tell you that it’s your fault that it isn’t working, you are not doing it right. This is frustrating.
Perhaps it would be easier for us to understand pray if we gave it a different name and expanded our view of it. The word ‘prayer’ may make us nervous and we be anxious about getting the right words or we may think that only certain people can pray or even that God only listens to some people. Prayer is communication with God and we are aware of the importance of body language in communication. It is about our attitude and activities as well as our words.
It is intended to be two way but we sometimes don’t let God get a word in. It doesn’t always require conversation. It can be about being present to God the way we spend time with friends. If we talked ceaselessly in any given situation, our friends would soon become tired of us so sometimes it is better to remain silent. Meditation and contemplation are forms of silent prayer and Lectio Divino is prayerfully asked God to speak to us through contemplation of Scripture, creation or a particular situation.

Unfortunately, most of us never get anywhere near the pinnacle of prayer experience. That requires dedication, concentration, practice and commitment. It also about realising that more is available and possible for us than we have ever dreamed of in relationship with God.
Rev Julianne Parker
(for full sermon see sermons page)

Monday, September 21, 2015

Whoever is not against us is for us.

Jesus, the gospel-writers tell us,
was an all-in-together
type of person. Welcoming,
including, overlooking,
forgiving. Sharing bread,
drinking wine,
laughing, and enjoying the company
of his friends.
His followers, it has to be said,
have found this aspect of his personality
a little challenging.
His splendid work of gathering and embracing
was translated through the coming millennia.
These years of ecclesial consolidation
saw exorbitant quantities of energy and passion
directed towards separating and excluding;
in determining who is in and who is out,
who will get to heaven, (whatever that might be),
and who won’t.
Sort of missing the point,

© Ken Rookes 2015

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Children are not the future

“The children are not the future. The living truth is the future. Time and people do not make the future… Fifty million children growing up purposeless, with no purpose save the attainment of their own individual desires, these are not the future, they are only a disintegration of the past. The future is in living, growing truth.” D. H. Lawrence

Say no by saying yes.

"...Leave your windows and go out, people of the world,
go into the streets, go into the fields, go into the woods
and along the streams. Go together, go alone.
Say no to the Lords of War which is Money
which is Fire. Say no by saying yes
to the air, to the earth, to the trees,
yes to the grasses, to the rivers, to the birds
and the animals and every living thing, yes
to the small houses, yes to the children. Yes."

Wendell Berry - Look out