Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Those who are rich

Those who are rich,

(we’re talking material

comforts and possessions here);

those who are rich are much practised

in the fine art of self-justification.

We are commendable and deserving,

and have every right to enjoy

our purple lifestyle.

We have worked hard,

we have invested wisely,

prudently, and with consideration

of future contingencies. Charity,

it is often conveniently said,

begins at home.

The poor, on the other hand,

are wasteful, indolent, and lacking

the diligence to avail themselves

of the myriad opportunities

that surround. If they bothered

to open their eyes they probably

would not recognise Hard Work

if it leapt up and danced a jig before them.

And so we learn to guard our surplus,

convincing ourselves that our caution

is necessary to preserve the dignity

of the poor and struggling.

So we walk unblinkingly past Lazarus,

the other beggars and the charity-rattlers;

consciously distracted, intent

upon our many worthy preoccupations,

and quietly uttering words of gratitude

for our numerous blessings.

© 2010 Ken Rookes

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

selling ourselves one way or the other

That I would be free again after thirty days meant nothing to me. I would never be free again, never free when I knew that behind bars all over the world there are women and men, young girls and boys, suffering constraint, punishment, isolation and hardship for crimes of which all of us are guilty.... People sold themselves for jobs, for the pay check, and if they received a high enough price, they were honored. If their cheating, their theft, their lie, were of colossal proportion, if it were successful, they met with praise, not blame. -Dorothy Day Jim Forest, Love is the Measure: A Biography of Dorothy Day

Con-man for the Kingdom

I love this ironically twisted story of the shrewd steward. If only I could engage the same cleverness and energy toward the kingdom of God that I apply to frivolous things! Or to adorn my soul with the care, expense, and attention to detail that an actress prepares to walk the red carpet on Oscar night! How skillful the con-man compared with the naive "children of light!"

Of course this is another Lukan story of absolute forgiveness. Only God could appreciate the gifts of the consummate con-man in such a way as the master does in this story. Although the implication is that we, too, must also forgive lavishly.

My thoughts went in several directions this week.Commendation of the steward:
I thought first of Bishop Nonnus and the story of Pelagia the Harlot, how the adornment of her body (even her bare feet!) inspired him to pray for himself and his clergy, that they might take the example of Pelagia as a goal for adorning their souls (meditation one). You can not worship God and money: I thought of Belle releasing Scrooge from his engagement to her, a dowerless girl, as his idol has now become gold rather than love (meditation two). And being dishonest in little things made me think of Dorothy Day's experience in prison in 1917 when she realized the irony of society punishing dishonesty in little things but commending it on the successful corporate scale

What it??

What if the real objective of our churches is to train and nurture every follower of Jesus as rogue agents of God's radical and outrageous generosity? I mean like going out on the streets and giving away forgiveness and membership and healing and salvation? John the Gospel writer recalls Jesus as saying, "If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained."[i] What if all the other concerns plaguing organized religion became secondary to this?

There is a remarkable story that comes close to illustrating what this idea might look like! One of the most popular videos on YouTube has scored more than fifty million hits in five years - by the way that's 19 hits a minute every day for five years running! Here's the story. In 2004, an Australian that goes by the name of Juan Mann showed up at a party severely depressed and lonely. He recalls how that a random hug from a total stranger that night made him, in his words, feel like a king! It was the greatest thing that had ever happened to him. [ii] After that experience, he makes a sign offering "Free Hugs" and holds it up as an invitation at his local mall. The movement starts ever so slowly and invites all kind of resistance. But over the last six years, people in seventeen countries have received "Free Hugs" as random acts of kindness - selfless acts offered as healing to total strangers.

found at

p.s the picture is from

Monday, September 13, 2010

The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.

The harvest is past,

the summer is ended,

and we are not saved.

Jeremiah 8:20

The season for salvation

came and apparently passed

with no-one noticing.

We were distracted, captivated

by the wonder and glory

of the collective reflections

in our gazing pool. There is darkness

all around; still it does not bother us

whilst there is even the palest light,

flickering yet sufficient to see our own

beautiful but blinkered eyes.

There was, supposedly, a season

for repentance, too;

but for that to have been effective

there needed to be an acknowledgement

of darkness’s reality,

and we would rather not know.

Anxiously feigning bravado,

we gather in our harvest

and boast about its yield,

blissfully unaware of its bitter nature.

The summer has ended,

and our time of harvest moves

inexorably to a Narnian winter,

wherein we will whisper the rumours

of Gilead’s springtime promise

with yearning, tears

and lamentation.

© 2010 Ken Rookes

Friday, September 10, 2010

we live in wonderful and foolish times

We live in wonderful, and foolish times.

The philosopher Don Cupitt once said that, compared to past ages, we live like gods, unimaginably rich, enjoying undreamed of comforts like – rain proof clothing, cooking pots, heated houses, antibiotics and vaccinations. Two hundred years ago, one person in ten suffered syphilis, many people had TB, with more than one in five deaths at times in parts of Europe. Today, the highest risks are suicide and road crashes, for the young, and cancers or heart disease for older people. Lifestyle choices greatly improve our health, as we know. We will be far healthier and happier today by the simple means of treating depression, driving more safely, avoiding overweight and smoking or alcohol excess.

The good news is that the possibilities of well being are greater to day because of modern knowledge. But too bad, many people ignore all this, or find they cannot live a disciplined life. The evidence is clear that people who keep a strong spiritual life, of prayer and personal discipline, will be happier, live better, be more successful in their life, and will make valuable contributions to their families and community. The new serious diseases now are substance abuse, risky lifestyle, and living as if there is no tomorrow. So why do people live as they live? Why do many people live as if there is no God? Perhaps it is that they misunderstand the message of Jesus. How could this be?

Luke 15: the story most famous in all literature.

It is such a good story it is usually forgotten why Jesus told it. Partly he was thinking of the lost sinners who need to repent, but much more than that, he was thinking of the powerful love of God for all people. But that still misses an important point. This story was told to the religious people who felt very pained that Jesus was mixing freely with all kinds of people, including the worst behaved, the social outcasts and pretentious do-gooders alike. It is best seen as a story for all of us, who need to think deeply about our own spiritual life. There are so many ways in which God shows his love and goodness in the world, and so many ways of ignoring it. A healthy spiritual life includes an attitude of great humility, but also great courage to stand up for oneself and for others. Jesus saw the wrong in injustice (the Good Samaritan) idolatry (the rich young man) and the greatness of living and dying for others (“greater love has no man than …to lay down his life.”)

It is easier to stand in judgment of others than to put one’s own life in order. But there are some times when we will need to do both. The Lost Son at least saw he had to make a change, even if his first motive was to avoid starvation amongst the pigs

Thursday, September 9, 2010

my three points

Three main points

1. This reading expresses Jesus distaste at the way people were treating each other and especially those outside their circle

2. In any reading from the gospels we need to be looking at where God is in this and even more, who God is in this reading and in this reading God is the seeker, God is compassionate and God is inclusive and we are called to behave likewise.

3. This reading shows us an example of how we should live together. IT gives us a picture of co0mmunity, our community. Of how we should live differently to others. We should not just let people wander off, we should are for each other, even when it is not expedient or reasonable and maybe especially then.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

nathan nettleton's take on the Gospel

* Luke 15: 1-10

........For much of the time, a crowd of people hung around Jesus, listening to everything he had to say. The crowd was full of disreputable characters whose lifestyles were offensive to the more respectable members of society. The Pharisees and religious experts got their noses out of joint over this, and began denouncing Jesus. “He keeps company with people whose behaviour is beyond the pale,” they said, “and he doesn’t even draw the line at sharing meals with them.”
........Jesus responded to their objections by telling this story:
If you had care of a hundred sheep and one of them got lost, what would you do? Like anyone else, you would leave the other ninety-nine grazing in the paddock and go off looking for the lost one until you found it. And when you found it, you would be so relieved that you would hoist it up on your shoulders and dance home with a spring in your step. Not only that, you would then call all your friends and neighbours around for party, saying, ‘The shout’s on me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’
Jesus said, “Let me assure you that it is just like that in heaven. One screwed-up person getting back on the right track causes far bigger celebrations than ninety-nine respectable people who never left it.”
........He continued with another story:
If you had ten coins — all collector’s items — and you lost one of them, what would you do? Like anyone else, you would turn on all the lights and go over the house with a fine-toothed comb until you found it. And when you found it, you would call all your friends and neighbours around for party, saying, ‘The shout’s on me, for I have found the coin that I lost.’
Jesus said, “Let me assure you that the angels party like that over each wayward person who turns their life back towards God.”

©2001 Nathan Nettleton

Monday, September 6, 2010

Download limits

Download limits

My broadband scheme

allows me to chronologically download

approximately 2.6 megasecs

per calendar month.

Once I exceed that pre-ordained limit

the seconds speed up and I am at risk

of cutting into next month’s allocation.

It’s a matter of using it wisely;

staying away from the dodgey sites,

and trying not to squander too much

upon the unworthy distractions

which seem to have proliferated

these recent years.

Those who know best about such things

tell me that I must strive to achieve

the maximum result

from the largest number of seconds.

They insist that I must expend my supply

in a prudent and balanced manner:

committing myself to a calculated juggling

of employment and family; friendship,

community, God, art, leisure

and pleasure. I am also required

to work diligently in order to counteract

the various quantums of guilt

that attach themselves

to some of the above activities,

and which seem to be wired-in

to my way of being.

I am, by nature, profligate,

and on those occasions

wherein I am less than vigilant,

the kilosecs slip clumsily through my

wasteful fingers;

especially when I become lazy

and allow myself to dream.

© Ken Rookes 2010

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Choose life

"choose life" a comment on Deuteronomy

In some evangelical churches, salvation is front loaded with the most emphasis placed on the moment of decision. Yet this text points to a broader understanding of decision. "Choose life" is a matter of living that is expressed in loving God, in hearing him, in walking in his ways, in keeping his torah, in holding fast to him and not going astray. Choosing the life that God has offered means living out that life in such a way that it creates life, that it brings about blessings that come from living in harmony with God and his world.

Still, there is the unmistakable dimension of this text that choices make a difference. There is absolutely no sense here that God decides people’s relationship with God, nor that once it is decided by us or God that the choice is then irreversible. There are clearly implications here that the choice, the life lived hearing God or refusing to hear, create their own effects in the world for good or evil. While God offers life, there is a sense in which we also create that life as we respond by choosing life. If we reject it, we have chosen death and by so doing then we create a death in the world that consumes us. To choose life is not only to accept life but also to create life; to reject life is not only to choose death but to create death in the world.

Life is realized by living in God’s world hearing the voice of God. It is in that sense that this text pleads, "Choose life, so that you and your descendants may live!" Life is also realized by doing God’s word, by living torah, by "loving the lord your God, obeying him, and holding fast to him" (v. 20). It is in that sense that the text cries, "for that means life to you."


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; ...