Tuesday, October 26, 2010

zac 3

Zac again


How long o Lord?

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

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 proclaimed

and the kingdom has indeed come near.

© Ken Rookes 2010

The Communion of Saints

I have always thought that this day in the church calendar is undervalued. love this quote by Dag Hammarskjold
"Yet through me flashes
this vision of a magnetic field of the soul,
created in a timeless present by unknown multitudes,
living in holy obedience,
whose words and actions are a timeless prayer -
"The communion of Saints"
- and - within it - an eternal life."

Friday, October 22, 2010

The River

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

a plague of locusts

"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."
But Joel brings a message of hope. If only Israel will repent and turn back to God, who is able to "tthe years the locust has eaten."
Joel paints a wonderful picture of a coming day of God's blessing, when the Spirit willbe abroad int he world."
MAry Batchelor

life that gives life

"The Holy Spirit is life that gives life
Moving all things
It is the root in every creature
And purifies all things,
Wiping away our sins, anointing wounds.
It is radiant life, worthy of praise,
Awakening and enlivening all things."

Hildegard of Bingen

Thursday, October 14, 2010

leaving church

simply scary

One of my favourite paintings of Jacob and the Angel


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."


Monday, October 11, 2010

Not lose heart

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

gratitude and integrity

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


The ten lepers

love this image found here - http://cacina.wordpress.com/2009/11/26/carry-the-gospel-with-you-358/

bloom where you are planted

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

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

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; ...