Thursday, July 29, 2010

From the Forsyte Saga

In this scene, Soames Forsyte, the "man of property," reflects upon his life as he sits near the family tomb at Highgate cemetery.

Softened by the events of the past week, affected by the melancholy beauty of the autumn day, Soames came nearer than he had ever been to realization of that truth - passing the understanding of a Forsyte pure - that the body of Beauty has a spiritual essence, uncapturable save by a devotion which thinks not of self. After all, he was near that truth in his devotion to his daughter; perhaps that made him understand a little how he had missed the prize. …

And only one thing really troubled him, sitting there - the melancholy craving in his heart - because the sun was like enchantment on his face and on the clouds and on the golden birch leaves, and the wind's rustle was so gentle, and the yew-tree green so dark, and the sickle of a moon pale in the sky.
He might wish and wish and never get it - the beauty and the loving in the world!

-John Galsworthy 1867-1933
The Forsyte Saga

Ghandi quote

Earth provides enough to satisfy everyone's need, but not everyone's greed.

-Mahatma Gandhi 1869-1948

In the twinkling of an eye

In Ictu Oculi (In the Twinkling of an Eye)
Juan de Vald├ęs Leal 1672


The rich fool - Jim Janknegt

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

really! we are called to break down the walls!

"In this week's epistle Paul describes a radical alternative to excluding others who aren't like us. For those who follow Jesus, writes Paul, "there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all" (Colossians 3:11). The nearly identical verse in Galatians 3:28 adds that "there is neither male nor female." I like to add our modern equivalents — no Iraqis or Iranians, no North Koreans or North Vietnamese, no blue bloods or blue collar, no imperialists or terrorists, no gays or straights, no youth or elderly.

With a single sentence Paul repudiates the idea that humanity is fated to exclude one another because of paranoia and stereotypes, that there is an inevitable clash of civilizations, or that class warfare is unavoidable. Contrary to the relentless propaganda that we are force fed, we need not succumb to race-baiting, to gay-bashing, to ethnic slurs, or to demonizing a nation as an enemy, an "evil empire," or "axis of evil." Instead of insisting that "you are either with us or against us," the Christian says, "I am unconditionally for you, no matter who you are, where you live, or what you've done. And God is for you far more than I could ever be for you.""

from -

a powerful reflection on the text.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Building Bigger Barns

As I get older I find I'm getting angrier.
This poem is a response to the parable of the Rich Fool.

Building Bigger Barns

Dwelling in the frantic phoniness
that fills the weeks between the calling
of the election and the voting,
we are confronted by the various
parties’ priorities for building bigger barns.
We shall gather to ourselves
and lock away for the fearful future
those things that make us rich,
that we value above all else.
We shall erect a barn for the borders
that must be desperately protected from
people who voyage in boats; poor, fearful,
and as wretched as the vessels to which they
have entrusted their lives and their hopes.
Wealth shall be gathered into silos and defended
against the ravages of responsibility
that might see it paying for the big clean-up
that everybody knows will have to come. One day.
There shall be a separate, sheltered barn
for leaders afraid of making decisions
that might prove to be unpopular,
lest they no longer enjoy the favour of the people.
This is democracy, and it has its own barn,
galvanized and gleaming in the sun.
There is also a barn full and overbursting
with responsible economic policies,
that all of our leaders are required
to visit regularly, to establish
their correct credentials, or else

we will not place a number low enough
in the boxes beside their names.
They say that there is a barn, somewhere,
that holds the nation’s store
of compassion, truth and justice;
It is apparently a small barn and there are

no proposals to build a larger one; besides,
its GPS coordinates
are believed to have been mislaid.

Ken Rookes 2010

Thursday, July 22, 2010

A comment on the Lord's prayer

In v. 2b both verbs are second person plural -- y'all. The prayer is intended to be communal, rather than personal. Note also the plural pronouns in the prayer: "our" and "us"

This was given as a prayer to define "us". There seems to have been a prayer that defined the disciples of John. I would suggest that one way the prayer defines us as belonging to Jesus is not necessarily the words, but the fact that we pray it together. We pray/confess that God is "Our Father," etc. Unfortunately, the numerous translations of this prayer has made it difficult for various Christians to pray it together without some embarrassment about some words and the length of the ending. The shift to the ecumenical translation printed in many newer hymnals has met with great resistance. It seems ironic to me that the things that God has given us for our unity in Christ: this prayer, Baptism, Holy Communion, and scriptures; have become sources of differences and even divisiveness among believers today -- but that's because each group takes them so seriously. I wish more people were aware of the differences between the two biblical accounts and the version in the Didache. These indicate that the early church felt some freedom to make minor (translational?) changes in this important prayer.



Hallowing means respecting, treating as holy. This is fundamental to our relationship with God and to all other relationships. Acknowledging the holiness, the dignity, the otherness of the other, must not be reduced to a metaphor of cringing before one who is more powerful, even if that is dressed up respectably as obeisance before the almighty. For then it reinforces the assumption that might is right and the bigger and stronger is the better. Such thinking often results in abusive relationships. Parents emulate their god. People emulate their god. The victims are disempowered. There is, however, an awe in relationships which flows from profound respect and love. It is often when we are standing on our feet face-to-face or bowed, not the one before the other, but together in service and mutual care.
by William Loader (0ne of ours)
look him up

An ancient but intriguing quote

When He told me that He concealed much love, because I was not able to bear it, my soul answered: "If Thou art God omnipotent, make Thou me able to bear it." Then he made answer finally and said: "If I were to do as thou askest, thou wouldst have here all that thou desirest, and wouldst no longer hunger after Me. For this reason I will not grant thy request, for I desire that in this world thou shouldst hunger and long after Me and shouldst ever be eager to find me."

-Angela of Foligno 1248-1309

Monday, July 19, 2010

The door will be opened

The door will be opened

God’s presence with humankind
is imaged in the New Testament
by the gift of the Holy Spirit
who gently whispers deep into our dreamings
and speaks into our silences.
Not one will be left alone,
not one will be without the Spirit’s
companionship as they journey
towards the kingdom. Not one.
Let your eyes be opened
to where the Spirit is working
to renew a struggling creation.
Let your ears be attuned to the quiet
but distinct words that call all creatures
into relationships of harmony and love.
Let your hearts be opened
to the Spirit-possibilities of grace
and reconciliation.
Each day, each breath and heartbeat,
let your soul quicken and your mind take notice
of the wondrous presence and mystery
of one who shines defiantly; a candle-flame
in the midst of the uncomprehending dark,
who generously and joyfully
illumines our living,
and that of all who ask, who search
and who knock.

Ken Rookes 2010

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The land trembles

The land still trembles
under terrible and insatiable burdens:
desperate urges to acquire and to accumulate
the wealth that we worship
and in which we have placed our trust.
The poor are still bought for a few pieces of silver
and the needy for a pair of sandals.
Today it happens in an overseas factory
or sweatshop for designer jeans or sports shoes;
whilst we anxiously flock to the purveyors
of all things shiny and new, lest we miss out.
Nothing ever changes
as the words of Amos the prophet
are either sanitized or avoided.
For the sake of economic and political expediency
we close our eyes and stop our ears.
We pretend that all is well with God’s world,
as we gather to ourselves
leaders with words that caress and reassure,
declaring that, in his/her benevolence,
God wants for God’s pious and faithful flock
the benefits and security of comfortable wealth,
along with all its trappings.
So it is that we self-righteously demand
cuts to our taxation, limits to our welfare
and strength to our borders;
lest the wretched, the unworthy
and the undeserving should receive anything
to which they are patently not entitled.

Ken Rookes

the enemy of hospitality

Today, the great enemies of any such universal hospitality are busyness, fear, and professionalism. If I don't have time to talk to the person calling for help, hospitality is out of the question. The advent of a guest, like the unanticipated needs of fellow monks, is a guage of our use of time. If we have no time for the guest, our day is too full. However, busyness can be an independent sin against the stranger, or it can be an excuse concocted because we don't want to say we are afraid or prefer to remain uninvolved.

-Hugh Feiss OSB
Essential Monastic Wisdom: Writings on the Contemplative Life

a fantastic site - have a look
picture by William Blake

A quote for Sunday

To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything is itself to succumb to the violence of our times.

-Thomas Merton 1915-1968

Velaqez - Mary and Martha

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The asylum seeker

Seeing and Doing

This is what I find so interesting about the role the Samaritan plays. I mean, if this parable really was just another morality tale, I think the Samaritan would be the guy in the ditch. Then we'd have a classic "love you enemies" story. You'd know the rules: help those in need, and bonus points because it's a Samaritan. But that's not the way Jesus tells it. In Jesus' version, the Samaritan is the one who notices – who actually sees – this beaten man and by seeing him is moved to pity. The Samaritan, that is, is the one who recognizes that when it comes to the question of who is our neighbor, there are no rules. Our neighbor, it turns out, is anyone in need. Where does such vision come from? It apparentlydoesn't come from one's ethnicity, one's religion, ones training, or one's station in life. How else can we explain that a Samaritan saw this when the priest and Levite did not? Having the eyes of faith to see that all people are children of God and anyone in need is your neighbor must be a gift of God, it must be a matter of faith, it must start with seeing, and only then move to doing.

Which is where you come in, Working Preacher. You see, my problem generally isn't knowing what I should and shouldn't do. It's having the vision to see the person in need not as a burden, but as my neighbor, to recognize in the face of another's need not a hassle, but an opportunity, an opportunity to show the mercy I myself have experienced in Christ. My problem isn't a lack of information; it's a lack of faith. What I need from a sermon, finally, is not an instruction manual or life-coaching session but a cornea transplant. I need new eyes. I need the eyes the faith to see in others my neighbors, other children of God loved by God just as I am loved.

Who is my neighbour?

Who is my friend? O God, scatterer of ignorance and darkness, grant me your strength. May all beings regard me with the eye of a friend, and I all beings! With the eye of a friend may each single being regard all others! -Yojht Veda, XXXVI,18 quoted from Life Prayers, ed. Elizabeth Roberts and Elias Amidon Prayer is meaningless unless it is subversive, unless it seeks to overthrow and to ruin the pyramids of callousness, hatred, opportunism, falsehoods. -Abraham Joshua Heschel 1907-1972

Corinne Vonaesch - The good Samaritan

Portrait of You as the Good Samaritan • by James B. Janknegt

Click on the image for a larger version

Thursday, July 1, 2010

A Winter communion liturgy

Found at

Our offerings for the work of ministry in this place and beyond,
and our gifts of bread and wine, shall now be received.

Presentation The people stand, as they are able as the gifts are presented
May these gifts be receive in all graciousness.
For it is in hope and thanksgiving that we offer them.
The people sit

God is the heart of life.
All And we are the heartbeat.
May your hearts be filled with thanks
and praise and songs of joy.
All We rejoice in the miracle of life
and delight in our participation. SWeinberg

We give thanks and praise for all that is good in the world.
For that mystery we name God
and call the creator of heaven and earth and all that is.

For the person we name Jesus
and his message of peace, justice and inclusiveness
that is the realm of God.

For the renewing strength and freedom of the Spirit
always present on the breath of life
All We give thanks for the love, peace and justice,
for prosperity, strength and freedom,
and for the presentness of God in the midst of life.

God of winter, the unpopular, slandered season, we praise you.
God of lightning, wind and storm, we praise you.
God of brisk winter mornings, frosted back lawns and stark hillsides;
of warm socks, coats and gloves,
raincoats, umbrellas and warm fires, we praise you.

So we join our celebration to all people, saying:
All Holy, holy, holy, re-creating God,
heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of God.
Hosanna in the highest.

Breaking of bread/Sharing of wine
We remember the time when Jesus faced
difficult decisions and destructive forces:
- in the days and nights of his searching,
- in finding ways to free others from images and ideas
that kept them captive and dependent and fearful of God,
- in breaking down social and religious barriers,
- in facing failure,
- in facing death

When we too experience the winter of our lives
may we find the courage to let go
and trust in your guiding, warming light.

And we remember
Jesus has shown us that life is stronger than death.

And as we eat together at this table
we remember the words and the actions of that meal...
He took bread, gave thanks, broke it,
and gave it to his friends.

He poured a cup of wine, offered thanks for it,
and shared it also with his friends.

Ancient symbols.
Common acts.

Jesus, human like us,
All reveals to us our true identity, temples of God's spirit.
Jesus, human like us,
All reveals God present and active throughout human history.
Jesus, human like us,
All reveals God-always-with-us in our everyday loving.
Jesus, human like us,
All challenges us to let his story be our story also (J Nelson-Pallmeyer/wsj)

So we break and share bread and drink wine,
pledging ourselves to allow the spirit that moved in Jesus
to move freely in our lives.
The bread and wine is served

After Communion
God of amazing grace,
in the cold of the winter months
we are grateful for your presence, warming us.

We pray this presence will strengthen us
to follow in the way of Jesus, in this city.

for your powerpoint

Like lambs among wolves

This is an extract from a sermon from on this Sunday's gospel reading. I found it very powerful.

"There remains on Earth––have you noticed?—the very real threat of powers and principalities. There remains the temptation to see ourselves as special, others as less than human; to kill in the name of the nation and tribe. Satan has fallen like lightning, but the armies of empire are not destroyed. And still the kingdom of God is very near.

A helicopter hung overhead. The police bullhorn bleated at us to disperse. “Watch,” said Mzwanele, and through the haze of smoke I saw a ten-year old girl, her dress whipping around her knees, dancing in front of the tanks.

Out of nowhere, out of everywhere, people began to sing in harmony and clap, and with a deep collective sigh the whole crowd began to move forward singing out of the stadium, dancing toward Calvary, the place of the skulls.

The kingdom of God is very near. Entering that kingdom is as simple as welcoming a stranger into your house, and saying, “Peace be with you.” It is as difficult as welcoming a stranger into your house, and saying, “Peace be with you.” The air is full of tear gas, and the streets of this world are full of broken children, and the Kingdom of God is very near.


In South Africa fifteen years ago, in Baghdad this afternoon, in a hundred slums tonight where armies and gangs rage, the Son of Man is going up to be glorified.

He is walking with the disciples directly into the line of sharpshooters, leaving behind violence and the temptations of power. She is contemplating revenge, rejecting it, offering a stranger a cup of tea as she prepares to be killed. He is refusing to strike the prisoner; she is bandaging the burnt child. He is turning his back on the empire, the nation, the flag, the tribe.

There is violence all around us. But Christ is here, and we are singing.

Kingdom come.


Namaan and the river

Found this quite different picture of Namaan on the Net. I quite like the way he has painted the transforming power of the water. The painting is by Cody Miller.

The storm

Haiku of stillness After a long day telling stories, parables, Jesus needs a break. Suggests a boat trip. Let us cross the lake; ...