Monday, August 30, 2010

One step, another.

One step, another.

Travelling, one step, another;

pause. Glance around,

does anyone else seem to be heading

in the same direction? No.

Each new step

must bear the weight of a new decision,

an evaluation that balances

the original sense that someone

or something has called me out

beyond my comfortable self,

with the feeling of absurdity;

that the journey exists in the first place.

The fist place, of course,

had been long taken

by one who saw his path through

to its difficult conclusion.

Travelling across

a sometimes bleak landscape,

dotted with the sorrowful tracks

of those who have wandered aimlessly,

he proceeded to plant his own

intentional footprints of compassion;

small illuminations

that point defiantly to the possibilities

or pilgrimage.

Those who also follow take heart

from their defiant warmth

and are encouraged to add their own.


Ken Rookes 2010

God's World - Our World. KUCA Camp Out 2011

KUCA Camp Out will be held on 2nd - 3rd April 2011, at the Euroa Showgrounds

Camp Out is an overnight camp for children in years 3 - 6, although children of any age are welcome to attend with their families.

Camp Out is heaps of fun, with most children attending as part of church-based groups.

Clown Team
Our team of Clowns provides important leadership at Camp Out. We are keen to recruit new clowns, and would welcome people from age 15 upwards to consider this vital ministry!
We will be holding a clowning workshop on Saturday 20th November 2010 at Euroa Uniting Church. Further details to follow.

If you have enquiries about either Camp Out or the Clowning Workshop, contact Ken Rookes: kro23808@bigpond.net.au

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The perfect dinner party

Welcoming the poor to the table

Imagine if either of the two major party leaders actually decided to take up the challenge to give a banquet for the poor, the crippled the blind and the lame.

The feast

domesticated hospitality

We have domesticated hospitality, shaped a kind of eco-system of inviting that keeps the welcome circulating among our own "kind" of people, or at least those we can feel comfortable around. Our generosity toward strangers and all those we might consider "strange" is often offered from a distance, without personal contact. But Peluso-Verdend reminds us that the "Greek word for hospitality, philoxenia, means 'love of the stranger,'" and "banquet behavior fitting for the reign of God ought to affect dinner invitations even now" (New Proclamation 2007). Byars observes that the list of those "strangers" changes from one time and place to another, the ones "whom respectable people expect to turn aside. Jesus' challenge reaches across boundaries of place and time, calling us to be more aware of those from whom we are inclined to avert our eyes, and to follow him rather than those who baptize common prejudices as virtues" – that is, we are to include at our tables "those who do not take an invitation for granted" (Feasting on the Word). In those moments, we will catch a glimpse of the way things will be in the reign of God, but not because we have condescended to welcome those "beneath" us; rather, we will understand that Jesus has changed "the rules" for, as Dianne Bergant writes, he "redefines" both "honorable behavior" and "honored guests."

from http://www.ucc.org/worship/samuel/august-29-2010-l.html

Nathan Nettleton Gospel version

Luke 14: 1, 7-14

........Once on the Sabbath, Jesus was invited to a dinner at the home of one of the leading members of the Pharisee party. Throughout the evening, he was being closely watched by everyone there.
........Noticing how most of the guests were angling for seats at the top of the table, Jesus spoke up with a word of advice:

“When you are invited as a guest to a formal dinner — a wedding banquet or the like — don’t rush to park yourself in the number one seat. There may be some more prominent celebrities on the guest list, and when one of them turns up, your host will come and ask you to vacate your seat for them. You’ll have egg all over your face in front of everyone, and there may be nothing but the scummy seats left for you. If you are wanting to look good in public, it would be a much better strategy to park yourself down in the back corner somewhere. Then when you are seen down there, your host will come and say, ‘Come on, my friend, we can find you a better seat than this.’ You’ll get a much better write-up in the social pages for that! The fact is that those who big-note themselves will be knocked off their perches, but those who avoid the limelight will end up as everyone’s hero.”
Then Jesus turned to the one who had invited him and said:
“When you are throwing a party, don’t just invite your friends, family and well-heeled neighbours. They will all return the favour sometime and so, rather than being a gift, your party will become something you are repaid for. Instead, invite people who are always being left out — the down-and-outs, the misfits, the refugees, the disabled. You’ll find that it’s far more richly rewarding, and although they can never repay you, when God’s people are all raised from the dead, you’ll be more than repaid.”

©2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

Monday, August 16, 2010

What is God really like?


The theology which informs Jesus’ attitude appears to be diametrically opposed to the theology reflected in the leader of the synagogue. Both would affirm that we must love God with the whole heart and soul and strength and that this needs to show itself in action. For the leader this meant: keeping the commandments. That made sense. Behind it is an image of God saying: I am God. I must be obeyed. I alone deserve your loyalty and service. That also makes sense. The outcome is: we seek to know what God’s commands entail, how they apply, and we keep them. Simple as that! Our devotion is reflected in the extent we take that challenge seriously. I could just as easily be describing what many Christians have seen and still see as the universal duty incumbent on all. Is it not also what Jesus himself would have said?

There is a subtle difference. It runs deeply into our assumptions and attitudes. What is God really like? What if God’s chief concern is not to be obeyed, but something else? What if God’s chief focus is love and care for people and for the creation? Then the focus moves from God’s commands to God’s people and world. It is as though God is telling us to get our priorities right. Commandments, rules, guidelines, traditions, laws, scriptures are also subordinate to that purpose: love. God’s focus is not self-aggrandisement as it is with so many who have power and wealth and want to keep it, but generosity and giving, restoration and healing, encouraging and renewing. When any of these means (commandments, laws, scriptures) cease to be seen in that light, they become ends and we find people in absurd conflicts about whether they help someone in need or obey God. When those become alternatives, something has gone terribly wrong, IF you believe God’s chief concern is caring concern for people.

from http://wwwstaff.murdoch.edu.au/~loader/LkPentecost13.htm

What about you?


I wonder, what are the members of your church doing to follow Jesus….a sobering and needed perspective? Do Christians even look at what is happening in our world? How do we as a country treat the poor, our children, the elderly and disabled? Do we vote in the people who will honor Jesus’ command to treat all our neighbors….all of them….as themselves?

This unwavering example of Jesus places upon all Christian ministers the duty to resist the temptation to side with any secular ruling power that exploits and oppresses those they were supposed to serve, keeping in mind Jesus’ option for the poor. I do believe Jesus demands of us to oppose hunger, violence, exploitation, oppression….mistreatment of anyone for any reason. Anything less dishonors Jesus, his mission and the death he willingly died for us.

I read somewhere that it is true that pastors are called to comfort the afflicted, but they also have the duty “to afflict the comfortable.” Didn’t Jesus do just that? We are called to bring good news to the poor and deliverance to the oppressed, not to kow-tow to the wealthy and powerful! Not an easy thing to do at times, particularly with the budget crunch of these economic times. Every time I read scripture when I was serving my churches, I would try to bring Jesus’ words to today’s world and then try to determine what he would say to my congregation.

Believe me, it wasn’t easy at times. But I was not called to be loved, but to serve God and bring Jesus’ word to the church. Hmmm, it wasn't easy at times.

I attended a workshop with ministers and priests from a variety of Christian denominations. As we talked, I learned that most of them were fearful of giving the sermon they felt their congregations needed to hear…..lose their job or lose contributions, they said. What about you?
from http://www.churchpowerpoint.com/C_Pentecost_13_Luke_13.html

A plea for Pakistan


Pakistan Flood Relief Appeal
More than 1500 people have been killed and 14 million people displaced by Pakistan’s worst flood natural disaster in more than 80 years.

SHARE is calling for donations to aid the enormous recovery efforts through the Pakistan Flood Relief Appeal.
Moderator Isabel Thomas Dobson is also asking congregations to have a special offering on Sunday 22nd August. “We are asking for Uniting Church members to pray for the people affected and to please give generously.”
SHARE donations will be sent to the National Council of Churches in Australia to be distributed through its international relief agency Act for Peace.
Donations can be sent to: SHARE – Pakistan Flood Relief Appeal, GPO Box 4355, Melbourne, Vic 3001, or by phoning SHARE’s toll free number 1800 668 426 or visiting www.shareappeal.org.au

What can be shaken

What can be shaken
Reflecting upon Hebrews 12:26-29

The large dusty water-covered ball,
sometimes called Terra,
orbiting in the third position
around mother Sol, is easily shaken.
Great geological forces
built into the planet’s foundations
engender earthquake and tsunami.
Sol herself continues to agitate said sphere
through her powerful and sustained influence
upon atmosphere and ocean.
She creates the seasons of extremity,
of drought and flood and storm.
Having learned to walk erect
and discovering within themselves
the capacity for science and reflective thought,
the dominant inhabitants of globe Terra
are said to be contributing to these processes,
thus increasing the overall shakiness.
These orb-dwellers are themselves
easily shaken and readily alarmed.
Having gathered to themselves
a broad range of commodities
that they now regard as their entitlement;
they are fearful
of releasing their anxious grasp,
lest these much-worshipped idols
be taken away.
They are correct: all that can be shaken
will be removed,
but they do not need to be afraid;
the replacement is said to be much better.

Ken Rookes

Friday, August 13, 2010

Metaphor

radical revolution

Thor and Jesus?

'peace at all costs' has no place here

If there is a place for ‘harmony’ in the teaching of Jesus, it is about unity with God and what God is doing in the world and a sense of solidarity with those travelling that path. In Jesus’ conversation with the ambitious James and John in Mark 10:35-40 Jesus uses the image of baptism to speak of his death. Water, flood, was a disaster, just as a fire storm is a disaster. Jesus is walking into disaster and taking others with him. Matthew’s version of the Q saying spells it out less tactfully: Jesus has come not to bring peace but a sword (Luke has: ‘division’). While Mark sees Jesus entering the treacherous waters of that Jerusalem Passover, Luke directs our attention to family.

‘Peace at all costs’ has no place here. That kind of harmony gilds oppression with respectability and rewards wrong. Instead we face a full scale conflict, taken right into the heart of human formation: the family. The family is being dethroned from its absolute claims. It is not an invitation to the kind of fanaticism which dislocates sectarians from family and friends and all else for obsession with an unrelated cause. Rather this passion springs from the heart of the human condition. It is the passion for love, for change, for justice, for renewal. These are not the fanatical tenets of a cult, but the foundations of hope. So Jesus is confronting the gods of family and warning that this is very dangerous territory.
from http://wwwstaff.murdoch.edu.au/~loader/LkPentecost12.htm

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

By faith

By faith

Strange stuff, faith;
elusive, too.
Across the millennia
we mortals have tried to quantify it
and make it into some sort of device
by which we claim the almighty’s attention.
Then, as if we have a particular right
by virtue of some contractual arrangement,
we use it to force the divinity’s hand
so that he, (historically speaking,
it tends to be a ‘he’), our captive deity
will give us what we require of him.
Thus by faith we pray
earnest letters of request to our santa god,
hang our eager stockings
and wait for them to be filled.

No, that’s not fair; I’m being overly cynical
and I apologise. By faith we see
through closed and prayerful eyes,
and with eyelids opened we peer
beyond earth’s dust; to behold
a tantalising vision of all that could be.
All that is good, and full of virtue,
all that is possible, and full of hope.
This shall come to pass, should enough people
truly trust themselves to the ungraspable
spirit-wind’s unknowable future.
With this faith they whisper their request:
your will be done, and enter into that rare place
where neither life nor death matters;
and where grace is the truest hope,
and all that is possible is love.

© 2010 Ken Rookes

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Nathan Nettleton Gospel version

Luke 12: 32-40
Jesus said to his followers:

“You lot may seem small and helpless, but don’t be afraid. God conceived you in love and is only too happy to give you the kingdom. Simplify your lives. Off-load your possessions and share generously with people in need. Commit yourselves to a new investment strategy, putting all your eggs in God’s basket. Such investments are not subject to the vagaries of the market. If the treasures your heart is set on are all in God, they are totally fire-proof. Nothing can ever devalue them. The fact is that wherever you make your greatest investment, your passion and energy will inevitably follow.
“Keep your boots on! Keep the lights on! Be ready for action at any moment. Be like diligent workers who are not sure when their boss will be back from his honeymoon, but are determined to be hard at work whenever he shows up. They will be glad they didn’t slack off but kept themselves industrious, because you can bet that when he comes he will throw a party for them — all on the house — and give them a generous end-of-year bonus. It won’t make any difference whether he arrives early or late in the shift, if he finds them on the job, they’ll have every reason to be thankful.
“Think about it. No one would ever let their houses get burgled if the house-breakers worked set hours and made appointments. You have got to be on the ready all the time, because you have no way of knowing when the Son of Humanity is going to show up.
©2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

Hope has two beautiful daughters

There is always Hope

Secrets in the Dark

Frederick Buechner unfolds this beautiful theme, this foundational truth, in his book,Secrets in the Dark: A Life in Sermons. "By faith," he writes on this text, "we understand, if we are to understand it at all, that the madness and lostness we see all around us and within us are not the last truth about the world but only the next to the last truth….Faith is the eye of the heart, and by faith we see deep down beneath the face of things – by faith we struggle against all odds to be able to see – that the world is God's creation even so. It is he who made us and not we ourselves, made us out of his peace to live in peace, out of his light to dwell in light, out of his love to be above all things loved and loving. That is the last truth about the world."

Found at

Hope

Monday, August 2, 2010

The road

Do not seek death. Death will find you.
But seek the road which makes death a fulfilment.

Dag Hammarskjöld
Markings, Faber and Faber, London 1964. p 156.

They shall be like snow

They shall be like snow

In times beyond remembering,
when stories were told and not written,
the gods were believed to hold
in their collective hands the keys to the future:
the rains, fertility, harvest and so forth,
And so, in order to keep the gods happy
and pleasantly disposed towards humankind,
holy places were marked out with stones
altars were erected, idols sculpted,
festivals declared, solemn assemblies called,
animals sacrificed, dances cavorted,
entreaties wailed and offerings made.
No evidence can be found as to the effectiveness
of all this religious activity, but the practitioners
were no doubt convinced that,
had their pious processes remained undone,
life would have been more of a struggle
than it was.
The Yahweh-God of the Hebrews, however,
wryly observing that religious devotion
could be a convenient cloak
for less than pious attitudes;
radically declared that she/he
was not much interested in such adorations.
This strange God preferred
to be pleasantly surprised by a people’s concerns
for justice, goodness, generosity and compassion.
“When this happens,” this straight-talking God
declares, “White shining divine grace
shall abound in human affairs,
overcoming all the sins and the fear,
and engendering hope.”

Ken Rookes
(I'm publishing these poems early in the week. I reserve the right to return and make improvements!)