Monday, May 22, 2017

The hour has come

Haiku to unite a people.

The hour has come;
things move inexorably
to their conclusion.

Jesus' work is done.
Just one last task before him;
shouldn't be too hard.

We struggle to grasp:
the Son will be glorified
as he meets his death.

Receiving God's word,
he opened it to his friends,
sharing the wonder.

Touched by divine grace
he speaks of life eternal:
communion with God.

He prays for his friends,
knowing he must soon depart,
leaves them in God's care.

Father, keep them safe
beyond this hour. Unite them;
ground them in your love.

© Ken Rookes 2017

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Christians in the marketplace

  At our worst, we Christians have isolated and insulated ourselves from our culture's mainstreams. We can be inward-looking, self-absorbed, self-important, and cloistered, instead of engaging people at our modern day Mars Hills. I remember a pastor friend who had a parishioner whose child had gone to Christian schools for so long that he was barely functional in the world at large. Another pastor confided to me several summers ago that at his annual denominational meeting delegates were, in all honesty, merely "talking to themselves." And I still remember exactly where I was twenty-five years ago when one of my seminary professors remarked to me that he had never entered a movie theater.
           But at our best, Christians like Neil have always been just as comfortable living, learning and sharing the Gospel in the marketplace of ideas as in the ministry of the church, in bars and board rooms as well as in basilicas, in university lecture halls as easily as in church fellowship halls. In an outward, centrifugal movement modeled after Paul at the Areopagus, believers have welcomed the opportunity to meet real people where they really live, work, and think, in order to gain a hearing for their "strange ideas" about repentance, rebirth, and the resurrection.

whatever way love's camel takes

My heart has become capable of every form:
It is a pasture for gazelles
And a monastery for Christian monks,
And a temple for idols,
And the pilgrim's Ka'ba,
And the tablets of the Torah,
And the book of the Koran.
I follow the religion of Love:
Whatever way love's camel takes,
that is my religion, my faith.
-Ibn Arabi 1165-1240

Monday, May 15, 2017

This is the Spirit of Truth

Haiku of promise

Spirit, advocate,
mystery God at our side;
within and without.

Spirit of truth who
abides in each open heart;
gift from the Father.

Spirit of Jesus;
among us, unseen presence,
sharing risen life.

Divine indwelling;
the Son in the Father,
the Spirit in us.

It's all about love;
thus the Spirit recalls us
to Jesus' commands.

You who follow me
will prove it, Jesus told them.
Love will be the sign.

I will be with you,
I will show myself to you;
we will dwell in love.

© Ken Rookes 2017

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Saint Stephen - the martyr

Stephen shows that the "impossible ethic" of enemy love is indeed possible, though costly One need not be divine to do what Jesus did. Jesus tells us: "The one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father."...Image result for saint stephen martyrdom

T S. Eliot’s Murder in the Cathedral dramatizes the martyrdom of Thomas Becket, archbishop of Canterbury, in 1170. The story builds to the final moments when Becket is pulled inside the cathedral by three priests trying to save him from the king’s forces. They bar the door for safety, but Thomas, with a boldness befitting Stephen himself demands:
Unbar the doors! throw open the doors!
I will not have the house of prayer, the church of Christ,
The sanctuary, turned into a fortress..
The church shall be open, even to our enemies.
We are not here to triumph by fighting, by stratagem, or by resistance,
Not to fight with beasts as men. We have fought the beast
And have conquered. We have only to conquer
Now, by suffering. This is the easier victory.
Now is the triumph of the Cross, now
Open the door! I command it. OPEN THE DOOR!

Like Stephen and like Jesus, Thomas went to his death opposing the forces of evil not with power but with faithfulness. Though we are tempted to hide behind barricades, guns and bombs, the stories of the martyrs remind us of the one who overcame evil not by defeating the enemy but by loving the enemy and thus defeating death itself.

News from Synod

News from Synod

Uniting Church 40th anniversary - 40 days of prayer

On Thursday 22 June the Uniting Church in Australia will be turning 40. In the lead-up to this date Church leaders and members will take part in 40 days of prayer. This national event begins in Melbourne on Sunday.
During this time, the whole Church is invited to pray together for renewal for ourselves, our communities, our world and our Church.
The UCA president and president-elect, the synod moderators as well as assembly and synod general secretaries plus representatives from the National Uniting and Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress are gathering in Melbourne for 40 continuous hours of prayer from 14 to 16 May.
The prayer focus is the continuing life and renewal of the Uniting Church. The 40 hours of prayer will commence at Wesley Church, Lonsdale Street, at 3pm on Sunday. Prayer will continue at 130 Little Collins Street from Monday morning to Tuesday morning.
Find out more here and here. Devotional resources are available here and here.
The '40 Days of Prayer’ emails, prepared by SA Moderator Rev Sue Ellis, will be sent daily from Sunday 14 May to Thursday 22 June. If you would like to receive the emails, please add your name and email address to the subscription list. For a downloadable version of the reflections please click here.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Show us the Father

Haiku for the family

Jesus is the way,
the gospel promises us,
to abundant life.

An image of home;
this house with its many rooms.
There we are welcomed.

He spoke. Be at peace;
don't let your hearts be troubled.
Your place is with me.

Live with faith, he said.
Trust in my words; they are true.
Find yourself in God.

Show us the Father,
then we will be satisfied.
Look at me, he said.

There's work to be done,
God's work, mine; they are the same.
You will do it too.

This, then, is glory:
together doing the work
God gives to us all.

© Ken Rookes 2017