Thursday, December 30, 2010

Happy New Year

DESCRIPTION: Drunk looking man with confetti on his head hollering at man with 'Jesus is coming' sign, 'Happy Year 0' sign in the background CAPTION: GIVE IT UP WITH THAT STUPID SIGN ALREADY AND COME CHECK OUT THIS AWESOME STAR THAT WE SPOTTED OVER BETHLEHEM

Is the stage too big?

Paul says that the chronological march of clocks and calendars started by the Big Bang is going somewhere rather than nowhere; he says that time itself is progressing toward a "fulfillment." He tells the Ephesians that the "mystery of God's will," hidden in eternity past, is revealed in the first century Jesus. All creation will receive its redemption when God "brings all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ."
           Paul's remarkably comprehensive vision embraces all space and time. The future redemption of the original creation is so central to his thought that he repeats these ideas in nearly identical language in four additional epistles besides Ephesians. It's like Paul had a computer and did a cut-and-paste of his thoughts to five different churches.
           The ultimate destiny of all creation is liberation and freedom, adoption and redemption. The scale and scope of this future hope encompasses "the whole creation" (Romans 8:12–25; cf. 1 John 2:2). God "created all things in heaven and on earth" (Colossians 1:16). He seeks the worship of all "things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth" (Philippians 2:9–11). He will "reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven" (Colossians 1:20). Since He will sum up or bring together "all things in heaven and on earth" (Ephesians 1:10), then of course God delights in bestowing his fatherly favor on "the whole human family in heaven and on earth" (Ephesians 3:15). Paul's incremental logic is palpable —redemption is the destiny of each person, every nation, all creation, and the whole cosmos — not only on earth but "under the earth and in heaven."

Alan Culpepper (Anatomy of the Fourth Gospel).

The way I think it works is this.  Light comes into the world and it's as if everyone and everything is seen in a new and penetrating way.  Suddenly we are connected with each other and the source of divine love precisely
because this light comes as an invitation to grow in connectedness.  Just as suddenly, however, we are also alienated because of everything about us that insists on remaining entrenched in isolation.  This is the contrast
John is talking about.  It is the contrast we, no doubt witness, every passing day.

another epiphany

confessional prayer

The Light comes into the world:
Our eyes, long used to darkness,
Close tight against the bright light.
We turn away and will not see.
The Light comes to reveal the truth.
But we are lost in logic,
and miss the reflections of God's appearance.
We turn away, and will not see.
Forgive us, Light of Life,
when we turn away,
and will not see you in the world around us.
Words of assurance
We are forgiven,
for the Light has come,
and the Glory of God surrounds us.
Thanks be to God Amen


I'm not sure where this came from but i love it


In a flash, at a trumpet crash,I am all at once what Christ is,
 since he was what I am.

-Gerard Manley Hopkins 1844-1889


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Song: O Light who is shining

I posted the words for this song this time last year, inspired as they were by John 1:1-18.
I am attempting to post the music. It's fairly singable, so give it a go.

Here are the words again:

O Light who is Shining

O Light who is shining in all the dark places;

shine on me,

and shed your hope upon shadowed faces;

let them see

the love and the courage of one who’s defying

the powers that threaten, the gloom that’s denying

the truth, grace and justice; together defining

the kingdom that’s coming to be.

O Light who is true and cuts through the night-time;

shine in me.

Let love glow warm when we’re worried and frightened

make us free;

for action to end all the fear and the hating,

to touch anxious hearts when love is abating,

to bring on the peace for which all are waiting;

where faith, hope and love abide: three.

O Light who is life for all of creation,

shine through me.

We are the offspring of Love’s celebration;

sent to be -

the flickering flames of hope where there’s need,

embracing God’s children, regardless of creed.

To gather a harvest, where love is the seed;

we make this our goal and our plea.

© 2010 words: Ken Rookes

music: Judy & Jessica Chalmers

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A cute nativity

Interpreting the story

Gospel writers Matthew and Luke

are the approved suppliers

of the raw materials

from which we cobble our Christmas stories

together; faith being the thread that seeks,

gathers and ties the meaning.

The angels speak of the wonder

of the aching God who decides to take action

and to embrace uncertainty.

The girl-woman, Mary,

is a sign of human obedience

and willingness to let God’s perplexing purposes

take their unpredictable course.

Her carpenter husband, Joseph,

in determining to proceed with their marriage,

shows the persistence of human compassion

in the face of bewildering embarrassment.

And the baby, strange and vulnerable,

tells us of the mystery of divine love

found, unexpectedly and riskily,

among us.

So, what of the fat man in the red suit,

intruding uninvited into our neat nativity?

Perhaps he is God, laughing.

© 2009 Ken Rookes

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

and light shines

*     Candle lighting
On a night like this 2000 years ago a child was born in hope to change the world.
And light shines.
Tonight – somewhere – a child is being born in hope to change the world.
And light shines. 
Tonight – somewhere – someone who is ready to do harm pauses and remembers a child from long ago… and chooses hope and peace instead of violence.
And light shines.
Tonight – somewhere – someone who is lonely and afraid is comforted by a stranger… and knows a moment of hope and love.
And light shines.
Tonight – somewhere – someone who is hungry or naked receives the gift of food or clothing… and knows hope, feeling full and warm.
And light shines.
Tonight – somewhere – someone who has been a prisoner is released… and knows hope and freedom.
And light shines.
Tonight – here and there – people choose to act with peace, with love, with generosity, with mercy… and Christ is born again in hope.
And light shines.
(unsure of origin)

unusual nativity

go on ...

my favourite Christmas Carol

Korean Nativity

``I was praying for the quick end of the Korean War and a unified peace, and soothed my painful mind with a paintbrush,'' Kim said.

The Dalit Madonna Jyoti Sahi

The Dalit Madonna

good news?

Good news; but if you ask me what it is, I know not;It is a track of feet in the snow,It is a lantern showing a path,It is a door set open.
-G.K. Chesterton    1874-1936

again -

our yearning for Peace

   Whoever wants to proclaim something about this light has to free the stifled longing of people. An interpretation of the Bible that takes seriously concrete, everyday human cares and does not make light of the dying of children from hunger and neglect is helpful in this regard. By showing up the incomparable power of violence in our world today, it deepens our yearning for true peace.
   Our text refers to the praxis of transmission and proclamation. The frightened shepherds become God's messengers. They organize, make haste, find others, and speak with them. Do we not all want to become shepherds and catch sight of the angel? I think so. Without the perspective of the poor, we see nothing, not even an angel. When we approach the poor, our values and goals change. The child appears in many other children. Mary also seeks sanctuary among us. Because the angels sing, the shepherds rise, leave their fears behind, and set out for Bethlehem, wherever it is situated these days.

-Dorothee Soelle
On Earth As In Heaven

Gerard Manley Hopkins

lead me by the star's light

Moonless darkness stands between.
Past, O past, no more be seen!But the Bethlehem star may lead meTo the sight of him who freed meFrom the self that I have been.Make me pure, Lord: thou art holy;Make me meek, Lord: thou wert lowly;Now beginning, and always:Now begin, on Christmas Day.
-Gerard Manley Hopkins 1844-89

caravaggio - adoration of the shepherds

Monday, December 20, 2010

For a child has been born for us.

Exclamations of hope

from the burning-lips prophet

speaking perhaps of the impending birth

of a royal prince who will be an heir

to the throne; and eagerly claimed,

seven centuries later,

by the followers of a crucified teacher

to undergird his Messianic credentials.

They stack up well, when woven

into the birth stories, speaking of wisdom,

eternity, peace and justice. Yes,

this is the one

who we have chosen to follow;

one who stands with reckless defiance

against the mighty forces of fear and self.

Yes, he must be that child,

the one to be born of a young woman,

the one upon whose shoulder

government and peace shall rest

and never end.

And yet his authority is, at best,

a flimsy thing,

depending not upon might or power,

but on the merest whisper of God’s Spirit

breaking gently through

the deeply calloused resistance

of each human heart,

and bringing the fervent call to choose

compassion ahead of fear.

© Ken Rookes

Friday, December 17, 2010

walking bewildered in the light

Walking Bewildered in the Light
The world grows terrible and white,
And blinding white the breaking day;
We walk bewildered in the light,
For something is too large for sight,
And something much too plain to say.
The Child that was ere worlds begun
( … We need but walk a little way,
We need but see a latch undone … )
The Child that played with moon and sun
Is playing with a little hay.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Joseph's dream

The Bright field

The Bright Field
I have seen the sun break through
To illuminate a small field for a while,
And gone my way and forgotten it
But that was the pearl of great price,
The one field that had the treasure in it.
I realize now that I must give all that I have to possess it.
Life is not hurrying on to a receding future,
Nor hankering after an imagined past.
It is turning aside like Moses
To the miracle of a lit bush,
To a brightness that seemed as transitory as your youth once,
But is the eternity that awaits you.
-R.S. Thomas 1913-2000

Micah from Moresheth

Micah from Moresheth, in the region of Judah,

gave us Bethlehem as the site

for the birth of the Messiah.

Perhaps he stopped by at the little town

on his one day journey to Jerusalem

to do his prophecy thing.

He posed a challenge for gospel writers,

Luke and Matthew:

how to arrange for Jesus from Nazareth

to be born in Bethlehem, three days south.

For the one it was a census; for the other,

fear, a massacre, and the return to a new home

after the flight to a foreign land.

For the one, the drama of a stable birth

with flights of angels and bewildered shepherds;

the poorest of the poor.

For the other, a fearful escape

and the vulnerability of refugees.

They each give us reason to pause

and reflect upon the strange purposes

of an even stranger God.

I wonder, if Luke was writing today,

might it be the homeless and the hopeless,

camped beneath a bridge, who would be

the subjects of the angelic invitation?

I wonder, if Matthew was writing today,

would he write of the kindness

of the people-smugglers

who helped the Holy family

reach their place of welcome and safety?

© 2009 Ken Rookes

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Massacres of the innocent

In his birth stories, gospel writer Matthew

gives us the terrible tale often called

The massacre of the innocents.

It seemed plausible at the time,

this callous brutality ordered

by a despotic monarch

for the sake of maintaining his rule.

Only in more recent years

have historians asked the question;

did it really happen? They point to

a shortage of corroborating evidence,

along with the Moses story,

and the need to solve

the Bethlehem and Nazareth conundrum.

Traditionalists, of which there are a few,

point to the character, or lacking,

of Herod the Great, a ruthless tyrant

who would brook no limits

in his pursuit of power.

No doubt he was capable, as have been

countless kings and rulers since.

In the last hundred years

there has also been no shortage;

dictators who have cruelly

oppressed their own people,

tribal leaders who express their hatred

with guns and machetes,

presidents and Prime Ministers

who have declared bloody, high-tech war,

on the slimmest of pretexts.

Not many may have dared

to directly target children,

but it is the children who have borne

more than their share of suffering.

Historical considerations aside,

it is good that this Christmas text reminds us

how the little ones, the innocent, the weak

and the vulnerable, have so often

paid the price for the wealthy and the strong;

and still do.

© 2010 Ken Rookes
And a new one for the coming weeks.

Let's get married.

The nightmares of recent weeks
did not retreat with the decision
to allow his betrothed
to leave quietly, and have the child
in a far place among distant relatives.
There the shame
would not be so bitter.
the girl was young and pretty,
and would soon find a new husband,
and a father for her child.
The pain of her apparent rejection
was sharpened by the love
still twisting the stomach
of the gentle carpenter,
who had toiled with mallet
and chisel for many years
so that he might take a wife.
He had not seen it coming;
refused to believe it
until the swelling evidence
could no longer be denied.
So, when, in a dream, the angel
spoke of the strange purposes
of an even stranger God,
Joseph grabbed the offered straw.
Copping the nudges and the sneers,
he took Mary home to be his wife.

© Ken Rookes
An old one for this week.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Don't put tinsell around the cross

The Christmas stories always need connecting with the grown up Jesus if they are not to be sentimentalised. Don’t put tinsel around the cross at Christmas. The magic of angels and the virginal conception are the embellishments to enable us to celebrate that life of compassion and self giving. In their own way they give us the radical message of inclusiveness: of the women, of the Gentiles, of the sexually suspected, of the pregnant girl. They lay before us the violence which grace confronts: the all maleness, the righteous Law observance, the willingness to abandon the pregnant girl, the murderous ruler, the slaughtered children, the aspiration to kill ‘the king of the Jews’. We have to work hard to keep it all from being reduced to jingles to promote shopping sprees or being perpetuated as just a bit more Christian naiveté in a world where the same geography and the same issues exist.

do not lend your strength

from Maurice

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

locust anyone?

DESCRIPTION: John the Baptist presenting tray of locusts to guests CAPTION: WELCOME, MAKE YOURSELF AT HOME ... LOCUST?

John The Evangelical


St John

you are that John who baptized God;
you were praised by an archangel
before you were begotten by your father;
for you were full of God
before you were born of your mother;
you knew God before you knew the world;
you showed your mother the mother bearing God
before the mother who bore you within her
showed you the day.
It was of you that God said:
'Among them that are born of women
there has not risen a greater'.

To you, sir, who are so great, holy and blessed,
comes a guilty, creeping thing,a wretched little man
whose senses are almost dead with grief,
and, what grieves him even more, a sinner with a dead soul.

Prayer to John the Baptist
The Prayers and Meditations of St. Anselm

John the B - Tiziano

Monday, December 6, 2010

John’s question

This is my home, my cell.

I am used to deprivation.

Sleeping among the rocks

by the river with the scorpions

and spiders in mid-winter

was hardly a suite in the palace.

No, it is not the discomfort.

Nor is it the constant threat that weighs

so heavily upon my chest

as if death itself were a thing to be feared.

I miss the sky, and the sun

that daily dissects it; and the wind

and the rain upon my cheeks.

Here, in my cell I hear only distantly

the calls of the birds,

and the occasional scurrying rat

is a poor substitute for the joy

of the darting lizard. Yes, I miss all these;

but I close my eyes and I feel myself

free again, with the voice of Yahweh

echoing once more through the valley

and inside my head.

My followers risk their own freedom

to bring me word of another,

the teacher from Galilee;

he who came to me that day

at the river. They repeat his stories,

and I feel the glow of hopefulness renewed,

this sad beauty that aches deep within.

I crave freedom.

My yearning is made more deep

and more painful

by the thought that the divine Spirit

may have begun a long-awaited work;

and I, John, called the Baptiser,

constrained by these bars and chains,

am unable to take part

in the new thing that God is doing.

© 2010 Ken Rookes

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Are you the one?

When John spoke,

his words fell to drench dry earth

and the desert was filled

with long-forgotten flowers;

the purple trumpets of repentance

and the blue-bells of earnest intent.

Imprisoned, and presumed silent,

he summoned some friends

to report on the state of the garden.


they told of wilderness beauty:

the sprouting green of new life,

the golden flowering of good news,

the pink and white flourish

of restored skin and bone,

and the red blossoming

glorious song and rainbow array

awaiting newly opened ear and eye.

Then the Baptiser knew

that the long-expected one

truly had come.

© Ken Rookes
I'm posting an old one this week.
Maybe I'll do a new one, too.

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; ...