Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Drum Major instinct

One of my favourite sermons of Martin Luther-King Jr is his 'Drum Major instinct sermon. it makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck. If you can, look up the whole text of the sermon, and even better listen to the mp3. Here is an excerpt.
"...I want you to see what Jesus was really saying. What was the answer that Jesus gave these men? It's very interesting. One would have thought that Jesus would have condemned them. One would have thought that Jesus would have said, "You are out of your place. You are selfish. Why would you raise such a question?"
But that isn't what Jesus did; he did something altogether different. He said in substance, "Oh, I see, you want to be first. You want to be great. You want to be important. You want to be significant. Well, you ought to be. If you're going to be my disciple, you must be." But he reordered priorities. And he said, "Yes, don't give up this instinct. It's a good instinct if you use it right. (Yes) It's a good instinct if you don't distort it and pervert it. Don't give it up. Keep feeling the need for being important. Keep feeling the need for being first. But I want you to be first in love. (Amen) I want you to be first in moral excellence. I want you to be first in generosity. That is what I want you to do."
And he transformed the situation by giving a new definition of greatness. And you know how he said it? He said, "Now brethren, I can't give you greatness. And really, I can't make you first." This is what Jesus said to James and John. "You must earn it. True greatness comes not by favoritism, but by fitness. And the right hand and the left are not mine to give, they belong to those who are prepared." (Amen)
And so Jesus gave us a new norm of greatness. If you want to be important—wonderful. If you want to be recognized—wonderful. If you want to be great—wonderful. But recognize that he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. (Amen) That's a new definition of greatness.
And this morning, the thing that I like about it: by giving that definition of greatness, it means that everybody can be great, (Everybody) because everybody can serve. (Amen) You don't have to have a college degree to serve. (All right) You don't have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You don't have to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve. You don't have to know Einstein's theory of relativity to serve. You don't have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. (Amen) You only need a heart full of grace, (Yes, sir, Amen) a soul generated by love. (Yes) And you can be that servant."
For full text: https://kinginstitute.stanford.edu/king-papers/documents/drum-major-instinct-sermon-delivered-ebenezer-baptist-church
for a good listen
https://archive.org/details/MlkAFoolishManAndDrumMajorInstinct

Monday, September 17, 2018

Who will be the greatest?

Haiku for the competitive

Speaking quietly
Jesus taught his disciples
the things that must be.

Of the Son of Man
he spoke, about betrayal,
and untimely death.

It won’t be the end.
After three days he will rise.
They don’t understand.

They were arguing:
which of us is the greatest?
He made them ashamed.

Would you be the first?
Then you must become the last,
serving your comrades.

He placed a small child
in the middle of the group;
took it in his arms.

Welcoming children
is the thing you are to do;
so you welcome me.

When you welcome me
you welcome God; and take part
in God’s own being.

© Ken Rookes 2018

Monday, September 10, 2018

The big question


Haiku for disciples

It’s the big question:
Who do people say I am?
Have to think on that.

A prophet, for sure;
just like John the Baptiser,
even Elijah!

But what about you,
you who journey beside me
you who know me well?

Breaking the silence
Peter, fisherman, spoke up:
You must be the Christ!

Perhaps I am he,
but do not speak of these things;
they won’t understand.

He began to teach:
The Son of Man will suffer
and he will be killed.

Once more to Peter:
Please don’t talk like that, he said;
This cannot be true.

It is true for me,
and it will be true for you,
if you follow me.

To gain the whole world
is not the same as true life;
to gain, you must lose.

Be my followers.
Take up your cross, just like me,
and take on the world!


© Ken Rookes 2018

Friday, September 7, 2018

Ephphatha

Ephphatha.

I love this word and i love the Jesus story. At times sitting in plain sight in our readings is a particularly powerful word and speaks to my heart. This week it is 'Ephphatha' which means 'be opened'. As with all of the stories of healing which the Gospel writers give us, it is not just about the magic of the healing. It is not about the 'what'. It is about the 'Why'. It is pointing to a deeper layer of meaning within the story. And the gospel writers never accidentally put stories together without there being a connection. Here Mark has put this story about the miracle opening of the deaf man's ears together with a story in which Jesus has just had his ears opened to the plight of the Syrophoenician woman and her child. It is portrayed as a moment of mercy on Jesus part but, i believe, also a moment in which Jesus' heart was shown to be open to all people of need (maybe even a moment of transformation for Jesus himself in which his eyes were opened). 
I live in a country which is currently making a firm division between those who are worthy of mercy and compassion and those who are not. Our Government is choosing to close its ears to the cries for mercy of asylum seekers and instead is sending them away where they hope they cannot be heard or seen.
To our Government and to us i believe Jesus would be saying 'Ephphatha' - Be opened! He would challenge us to see all people of need as being equal in the eyes of the Divine and for us to act with mercy and care, to open our hearts.


("ef'-a-tha, ef-a'-tha (Ephphatha): Aramaic word used by Christ (Mk 7:34), the 'ethpa`al imperative of Aramaic pethach (Hebrew pathach), translated, "Be (thou) opened"; compare Isa 35:5. The Aramaic was the sole popular language of Palestine (Shurer, History of the Jewish People in the Time of Jesus Christ, IIg, 9) and its use shows that we have here the graphic report of an eyewitness, upon whom the dialectic form employed made a deep impression. This and the corresponding act of the touch with the moistened finger is the foundation of a corresponding ceremony in the church’s formula for baptism.")



Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Incognito


Haiku for staying uninvolved

Jesus headed north
to foreign parts, seeking rest.
Tell no one I’m here.

The word got around.
A woman came to see him;
her daughter was ill.

She was a Gentile
with no claim on this Hebrew,
except that of love.

Come and heal my child,
cast the demon out of her,
give her back to me.

No, it is not right.
My food is for the children,
it’s not for the dogs.

Not fair! She replied.
The dogs under the table
get the scraps that fall.

He must think again,
enlarge his understandings
and respond with love.

That’s a great answer!
Quite right, you can go home now,
your daughter is freed.

© Ken Rookes 2018

Friday, August 31, 2018

What defiles a person?????

"...It was into this context (Royal commission into Child abuse) that the bishops and the senior pastors asked, “Why don’t your people live out Biblical family values?”

And he said to them, “Isaiah prophesied rightly about you hypocrites. As it is written,

‘This people pays me lip-service,

but their hearts are far from me;

they worship me in vain,

for they teach human commandments as doctrine.’

You abandon the commandment of God, and wield human tradition like a sword.”

Then he said, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition! For as the prophets said, ‘You must care for the widow, the orphan, and the refugee: those who have no one to protect them.’” But you spout family values and say “Anyone who has sex before marriage, or a homosexual relationship, cannot be part of the kingdom of heaven.” You force people to lie about their relationships, or to suppress sexual expressions of faithful love, yet take no responsibility for the structures that enable sexual violence against women and children. Instead, you have protected religious officials, and worried about your own status.”

Then he called the crowd again and said to them, “Listen to me, all of you, and understand: there is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile you. Nothing that anyone has done to you can defile you. No way that they have touched you can defile you. No act of sexual degradation, no act of violence, no scene of pornography that has been forced upon you, can make you unclean in my eyes. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, that another person can do to you that can make you unfit for communion with me. The only thing that can get in the way of communion with me is using other people to satisfy your destructive desires, and failing to live in love. You may feel defiled by what other people have done to you, but in my eyes, you are not defiled. You are not defiled.”
Nathan Nettleton
http://www.laughingbird.net/

Monday, August 27, 2018

Keep yourself nice

Haiku for a polite and ordered world

Is righteous living
about keeping yourself nice?
Jesus says there’s more.

The holy people
observe the old tradition:
wash before you eat.

Always wash your hands
before you eat. Good practice,
enshrined in the law.

Other rules as well;
the washing of cups and pots
and kettles of bronze.

Pharisees object
to the careless disciples
and their defiled hands.

Isaiah knew it;
the faithless hypocrisy
behind your worship.

You care about rules
much more than you care about
what God is wanting.

It’s time to get real!
It’s the things you do and say
that make you defiled.

Always there is more
than the narrow, centred fears
of the self-righteous.

© Ken Rookes 2018

Monday, August 20, 2018

Difficult words

Haiku of offence.

Eating and drinking,
taking my life deep within;
they abide in me,

They will always live,
nor will their deeds be forgot,
alive in God’s heart.

Difficult teachings,
who can accept them? Even
disciples struggle.

From the spirit comes
true life; the flesh is useless.
Believe in my words.

Many disciples
turned back. His words were too hard,
the way was too tough.

He questioned the twelve:
Do you also wish to leave,
is it all too hard?

Where else can we go?
said Peter. Your words are life;
you have come from God.

© Ken Rookes 2018

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Wealth is not a blessing

"Wealth is not blessing.  I feel like I need to repeat that.  Wealth is not blessing.  If it is, then Jesus (just to cite the obvious example) must be regarded as one of the most un-blessed people ever to walk the earth; he lived and died dirt poor.  But if there's one false teaching that haunts the American church most, this is it.  That money is an unambiguous sign of God's approval.  Hence, prosperity theology.  Hence, our willingness to turn a blind eye to sin in our politicians, our economic policy makers, our religious leaders, and our cultural icons when their sins come packaged in enormous wealth.  Too often, money creates a moral vaccuum.  Solomon remained wealthy while he sacrificed babies to Molech.  Wealth is not blessing."
https://www.journeywithjesus.net/essays/1880-the-beginning-of-wisdom

Sabbath quote

“Sabbath observance invites us to stop. It invites us to rest. It asks us to notice that while we rest, the world continues without our help. It invites us to delight in the world’s beauty and abundance.”


― Wendell Berry

Drum Major instinct

One of my favourite sermons of Martin Luther-King Jr is his 'Drum Major instinct sermon. it makes the hair stand up on the back of my n...