Monday, November 12, 2018

Birh Pangs

Haiku for a new order

Leaving the temple
the disciples were impressed;
like country cousins.

How big the stones are,
and look at the large buildings!
Nothing like back home!

Don’t be overawed!
These buildings, too are passing;
all will be thrown down.

The old religion
has failed. It will pass away.
Just like the temple.

When will these things be,
what will be the sign? they asked
when they were alone.

Don’t be led astray.
Mind my words, don’t trust any
who say, “I am he!”

You will hear of wars,
and strife among the nations;
do not be alarmed.

There will be famines
and natural disasters;
keep trusting in me.

These are the birth pangs
of God’s kingdom ruled by love;
it will surely come.

Old religion still
holds so many in its sway.
Let’s open our eyes!


© Ken Rookes 2018

Monday, November 5, 2018

Widow's mite cartoon


The temple deserving of destruction

"... The woman’s devotion is undoubted. But we have taught her, in part, to increase her poverty in the name of God. “They kill the widow and the stranger...” (Ps 94:6) Families are destroyed by husbands at too many meetings and working bees, or wives working too long in the church office. Except it is not the husband or the wife, it is the church. Young women are destroyed by the structures; it has been happening all my life and I am only finally seeing.
.... In this picture of a more fundamental corruption, those “inadequate people seeking power” (Loader) are often tolerated, and even encouraged,  by other inadequate people seeking an inadequate God. Great is their rage and destructiveness when they see they have idolised God and gotten only a poor minister.
And in the middle of it all those who are true become the “collateral damage” of the church; the ones we deny we have destroyed.
I once saw a man stand firm under fire and give everything he had. What an appalling thing if the widow was doing this, too, with her two coins, and it turned out we had built a temple which turned her love into a lie!
It would deserve its destruction."
Andrew Prior (from https://www.onemansweb.org/theology/a-difficult-day-of-the-lord-mark-13-24-37/the-trickle-down-theory-of-church-mark-12-38-44.html)

Ruth at the feet of Boaz

Marc Chagall

Scribes and widows

Haiku for living

Beware of the scribes
walking around in long robes,
drawing attention.

They like the best seats,
expect people’s deference,
enjoy the honour.

Taking advantage
of widows, hiding their deeds
with their lengthy prayers.

Learned hypocrites,
naked perfidy revealed,
they will be condemned.

Speaking of widows,
Jesus observed one of them
giving her two coins.

When you are wealthy
you can afford to give much,
but when you are poor . . .

Two small copper coins.
Not much, but everything
she had, said Jesus.

To be generous
is to reflect God’s nature.
Live generously.



© Ken Rookes 2018

Monday, October 29, 2018

Some came seeking truth

Haiku for the wise

Not all of the scribes
were counted as enemies;
some came seeking truth.

One brought a question
to Jesus, not to trick him,
but to understand.

Of all God’s commands,
which is the one that comes first,
which is the greatest?

The shema, he said.
The Lord is one: Love the Lord
with heart, mind and strength.

The second is this:
You are to love your neighbour
as you love yourself.

The scribe was impressed.
These are very good answers,
there is none better.

You show great wisdom,
you are close to God’s kingdom,
responded Jesus.

Close to God’s kingdom,
nearing the destination!
Yes, I would take that!

© Ken Rookes 2018

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Lament for the children

I wrote this for the Bendigo Rural Australians for Refugees rally held last Wednesday, calling for the release of children and their families from detention on the Island of Nauru. The people were invited to participate in the response (Bold). It works as a sort of rap.

I was invited to offer it as a prayer at Eaglehawk Uniting Church this morning. People responded positively, and it opened up some good conversations

We’re aching the children, 
we want to wipe their tears
 We want to give them freedom, 
we long to end their fear.

We can feel the shame,
the helplessness and pain,
of children in detention,
their lives held in suspension.
We mourn with them and grieve,
and we won’t be relieved
Until the suff’ring kids are freed
Until the kids are freed.

These families are sentenced
to futility and despair
while those who sit in judgement
condemn without a care.
But no crime has been committed,
they came looking for a welcome;
they asked us for protection,
and we stole their hope and freedom

We’re aching the children,
 we want to wipe their tears
 We want to give them freedom,
 we long to end their fear.

The criminals in Canberra
pretend to serve our interest.
They claim it’s for our benefit,
that it’s for the best.
Our moral compass has been lost
on that we can be clear:
It’s been swallowed by the politics,
of racism and fear;

On the tiny island of Nauru,
amidst the desolation,
no one’s going anywhere;
there is no destination.
There’s nothing to look forward to
just more desperation,
for children and their parents, too,
a helpless situation.

We’re aching the children, 
we want to wipe their tears
 We want to give them freedom,
 we long to end their fear.

Childhood should be wond’rous,
with laughter. and with learning;
without the fear and sadness,
the aching and the yearning.
If we only could we’d make it right,
create a justice outcome,
take their hands, hold them tight
and make these children welcome.

How long must the children wait
for justice and compassion?
Kindness, hospitality;
why must these things be rationed?
We will raise our voices high,
together we shall loudly cry:
Until the suff’ring kids are freed,
Until the kids are freed.

We’re aching the children, 
we want to wipe their tears
 We want to give them freedom, 
we long to end their fear.

Ken Rookes 2018

Monday, October 22, 2018

The blind man

Haiku for seeing

Blind Bartimaeus
lived in perpetual night,
but he still had hope.

Beggng by the road,
hearing reports and gossip,
he hoped in Jesus.

Jericho’s grapevine
told him Jesus was in town:
what were the chances?

He comes! They told him.
“Have mercy, Son of David!”
The blind man shouted.

You are a nuisance,
Bartimaeus; be silent!
He shouted louder.

Jesus heard his voice,
stopped and called the man over.
Take heart! They told him.

Jesus said to him,
What do you request of me?
Teacher, let me see.

Go, Bartimaeus,
your faith has been rewarded:
your sight is restored.

Bartimaeus went.
He went along with Jesus,
followed on the way.

Would that I, meeting
with my master; like friend Bart,
follow in his way.


© Ken Rookes 2018

Thursday, October 18, 2018

suffering and beauty

"For most of my life, God’s response to Job in this book has frustrated me, even angered me. It all seemed so insufficient a response. But now I can’t help but wonder if there is wisdom in responding to suffering with an invitation to see beauty around us, to allow beauty to interrupt despair and grief.
Like suffering, beauty cannot really be explained. Like suffering, beauty can only really be experienced. And like suffering, beauty changes us. For Job, suffering and grief removed the protective barrier of wealth and privilege and opened his eyes to see how deeply suffering, injustice and pain are shot through the human experience. So much so that all he could see was pain and suffering in the world. In a similar way, the more we experience and observe beauty, the more frequently we experience it even in small and unexpected places, in the way a sleeping child tucks her hands under her cheeks at night, the way a spouse tilts his head back in laughter, the pirouettes of a single yellow leaf falling from an empty tree.
But we need both. We need to cultivate both, an awareness of the suffering of humanity and an awareness of the beauty of the creation. We need to experience both the remote absence of God and the divine immanence of a God who is with us in creation."
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/davidhenson/2015/10/what-job-and-god-learn-from-each-other-prophetic-grief-meets-prophetic-beauty-a-homily/

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Forget the honour


Haiku for disciples

Teacher, will you do
for us whatever we ask?
What is it you want?

Brothers James and John
didn’t get it; asked Jesus
for seats of honour.

In glory may we
sit with you, at your right hand,
and one at your left?

You are asking much,
and you do not understand:
can you drink my cup?

And my baptism;
are you able to share it?
Yes, we are able.

You answer quickly!
In time you will share these hings
and my suffering.

The others saw red!
James and john had gone too far.
Jesus called them in.

Forget the honour,
That’s not the name of this game!
It’s about serving!

Others crave power,
you are not to be like them.;
you must be like me.

© Ken Rookes 2018

Birh Pangs

Haiku for a new order Leaving the temple the disciples were impressed; like country cousins. How big the stones are, ...