Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Which brings us to Habakkuk, our Old Testament prophet of the day. He looks around at the world around him and he see God's failures. Why are the wicked doing well? Why do evil people seem to be gaining ground on God's holy people? Where is God when you need him? Even when Habakkuk calls out his name, he feels like his words are falling on deaf ears.
How long, O Lord?
I have no answers for those great questions. And, if you're a smart preacher, neither will you.
The point isn't to find the answers here.
The point today is that it's ok to ask the questions. An authentic relationship with God means that every once in a while we're going to get teed-off. Every once in a while we're going to look around and wonder where's the Divine? Sometimes we're going to be standing waist-deep in darkness and the Light is going to feel a million miles away.
And an authentic faith prays about that. It says it out loud to God.
Don't just smile and move on. There's no other relationship in your life that you'd do that over and over again. No relationship that's worth it anyway.
Now, God will be there. The Light shines in the darkness, even when we don't see it. And in chapter 3 of Habakkuk God is going to show up in a big way and put on a pyrotechnic display of power that puts George Lucas to shame.
But we still have to say it. And sometimes we need to lawyer up.
How long, O Lord?
Monday, October 25, 2010
Come down, Zacchaeus
The crowd offered no help
to the short-in-stature man, whose face
confirmed their initial impression
that this was one Zacchaeus, chief
among the ratbag tax collectors.
The tree was a sycamore;
its gnarled and twisted branches
offering a convenient means of elevation
enabling the man to rise above his dilemma
and successfully view the teacher,
whose reputation had travelled ahead of him,
all the way to Jericho.
Perhaps the Zac-man’s reputation
had also preceded him. Who can say?
When the teacher looked through the shadowed
leaves and branches he saw the face
of the climbing man, and called him down
with an unexpected invitation.
Hospitality is extended and accepted,
much to the grumbling derision
of the good religious people,
who could offer only sneering observations
about who one should choose as friends.
The teacher laughs them off, captive
to a larger vision of divine friendship.
Unsettled by such disturbing grace,
sinner Zacchaeus offers compensation
and justice to any he has defrauded; a sure sign
that the gospel has been truly proclaimedand the kingdom has indeed come near.
© Ken Rookes 2010
Friday, October 22, 2010
Some thoughts from a retreat.
The duck skids upon the river to end its flight.
Flowing, flowing; never standing still.
An old and forgotten friend,
the spoonbill, white and angel-like,
drops by unexpectedly
to greet and to encourage.
By the river the tree puts its roots
deep into the earth;
but what if the tree needed to be transplanted?
The river widens,
its water slows, but never stops.
My spoonbill friend returns,
extends its neck and looks around.
The clouds part momentarily,
releasing the sun.
The ancient roots are exposed, eroded.
One day they will fail
and the tree will be swallowed up.
I am distracted. When I look up
my spoonbill is gone.
He will return one day.
An island intrudes;
the river divides and flows around it
and unites again at the other side.
The river’s mouth is a thousand kilometres away
but still the ocean is getting closer.
One day I will reach it.
© Ken Rookes
Thursday, October 21, 2010
"Joel speaks of a terrible plague of locusts ..... In its utter destruction this attack symbolizes for him the coming Day of the Lord - " a gloomy day."
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Thursday, October 14, 2010
in her book Scarred By Struggle, Transformed By Hope, the Benedictine nun and writer Joan Chittister uses the Jacob story as a paradigm for a "spirituality of struggle." In Jacob's story she identifies eight elements of our human struggle—change, isolation, darkness, fear, powerlessness, vulnerability, exhaustion, and scarring.
But God doesn't leave us there, says Chittister, and in each human struggle she finds a corresponding divine gift — conversion, independence, faith, courage, surrender, limitations, endurance, and transformation. "Jacob does what all of us must do," writes Chittister, "if, in the end, we too are to become true. He confronts in himself the things that are wounding him, admits his limitations, accepts his situation, rejoins the world, and moves on."
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Monday, October 11, 2010
Darkness and light flow in waves,
fluctuating between deep nothingness,
occasional blurry dimness,
waning cold full-moon shine,
the vision-challenging defeated and fading
glow of dusk,
and the surprising stabs of radiant illumination
that break infrequently through the despair.
In the mystery of creation’s brilliant blast,
truth, and the justice
which is ordained to attend truth,
were somehow encoded
into the DNA of the cosmos.
They may be seen intermittently,
borne upon sporadic rays of luminosity.
Thus, in countless stories
imagined, told and written
by every tribe, culture and religion,
truth emerges from the shadows to triumph
and justice is seen to prevail.
Jesus, the story-teller from Nazareth,
also made up such tales,
including one wherein an otherwise
crooked and godless judge
was caused to grant unexpected justice
to a persistent widow.
In real life things are not so simple,
nor are righteous results guaranteed
amongst the many shades of grey.
The poor continue to hunger,
the innocent still languish in prison cells
cruel lies remain unchallenged
and wars go on, being fought for reasons
which are seldom just or true.
Still we whisper among ourselves,
calling forth a strange and precious something
glowing defiantly through the gloom
with words of encouragement to the faithful:
“do not lose heart.”
© Ken Rookes 2010
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
There is a French Marian legend about a storyteller who gives up his fickle life and enters a monastery. But the life of the monks remains strange to him; he knows neither how to recite nor chant a prayer. He pours out his lament to the Virgin Mary and she tells him to serve God with what he can do, namely to dance and leap. From that moment on, he skips the divine offices and dances during those times. He is called to the abbot and believes that he is about to be expelled. But the abbot only says, "With your dancing you have glorified God with body and soul. but may God forgive us all those lofty words that pass our lips without coming from the heart." -Dorothee Soelle The Silent Cry: Mysticism and Resistance
love this image found here - http://cacina.wordpress.com/2009/11/26/carry-the-gospel-with-you-358/
With such a future, and such a hope, in their hearts and minds, the people, then, are instructed by Jeremiah to live in a kind of extended “in-between” time, not just sitting around and waiting for something to happen, not rising up and trying to escape or overthrow their captors, and not letting themselves be dragged down into depression and complaining. No, Jeremiah instead speaks poetically about houses, and gardens, and families that go on and on, even in a strange and inhospitable land, surrounded by pagans but flourishing nevertheless. Audrey West says that “the people of God can bloom where they are planted,” and she echoes something we’re hearing a lot these days, after almost ten years of living under the threat of terrorism, and several years of economic “adjustments”: Jeremiah, she says, instructs the people, and us, to “create a new ‘normal’ as they learn to live into this reality, making it their home.” Things may not be great right now, but, she writes, “the news doesn’t have to be good in order for us to live out the good news and…to be blessed ourselves and be a blessing to those around us” (New Proclamation 2010). These words fit the situation of a people living under the thumb of an ancient empire just as they fit our situation today, mired in different kinds of empires, including fear, and materialism, and militarism, and consumerism, to mention only a few.
Monday, October 4, 2010
In exile, the forcibly dispossessed
people of Yahweh receive a letter
from the mad and lonely prophet
who instructs them to stop resisting
and to make peace with their conquerors.
Reluctant dwellers in a foreign city,
they weep for Jerusalem, and the God
who, they assume, has abandoned them.
The holy city lies in ruin
but their distance from those ancient stones
must not lead to despair; they are to trust
that the strange purposes of their apparently
absent God will yet be revealed.
“Become dual citizens,”
the treasonous words of the missive urge.
“Make yourself neighbours to your enemies
and seek their well being, along with that
of their heathen city.
Accept the offers of friendship
build, plant, take jobs, establish businesses
and call this place home.
Take wives, beget children
and look to the time when you can
take pleasure in your grandchildren:
you will be here for some time yet.
But it will be all right.
“Don’t forget, covenant people of God,
to pray for your adopted city and its people.
In this way your enemies will become
your friends and you will all benefit.
Yes, and it will be all right.”
© Ken Rookes 2010
Impossible haiku Love your enemies: surely the most laughable of all his commands. Easily dismissed when fear is cult...