Tuesday, February 22, 2011

need a lift?

DESCRIPTION: Jesus in a garbage truck talking to a guy carrying a bag of "worry" CAPTION: NEED A LIFT?

Life is

so don't stress out

 Matthew 6:24-34

Jesus said:
........“No one can play on two teams;
................you’ll either give your best to one
........................and under-perform for the other,
........................or short-change one
................and give your heart and soul for the other.
........You can’t dedicate yourself to both God and financial success.

........“So I’m telling you, don’t go worrying about your life, about where your next meal is coming from or what you will find to drink. Don’t stress about what you look like or whether you’ve got the right clothes to wear. Life is more than food, isn’t it? And the body is not just a clothes rack, is it? Look at the birds flying around. They don’t do any farming. They don’t stock up the pantry with extra supplies. And yet your Father in heaven feeds them. You are worth more than they are, aren’t you? So what good does worrying do you? It won’t make you live any longer - not even an hour - will it?
........“And why do you worry about what to wear? Think about the wild flowers. They grow without ever shopping or sewing a stitch. But you can take it from me that they are clothed more perfectly than even a princess at a royal wedding. If God takes such care over dressing the wildflowers, which bloom today and are mown down and composted tomorrow, how much more care will God take to make sure that you have the clothes you need? Yet you find it hard to trust!
........“So don’t get all anxious and go asking, ‘What are we going to eat?’ or ‘Where will we find a drink?’ or ‘What on earth will we wear?’. It is the people who don’t put their trust in God who put all their energy into these things. You can rest assured that your Father in heaven knows perfectly well that you need these things. So you can make your first priority the new culture of God and doing the right thing, God’s way, and all these other things will be taken care of for you.
........“So don’t stress out about tomorrow. Just deal the troubles of today, and leave tomorrow’s worries until they come.”

©2008 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

a new centre of seeking

Jesus' argument not only appeals to what would have worked in his economy - risking (trusting) that local resources will suffice for survival. He also addresses worry and fear, which frequently drive greed. Greed becomes an obsession which paradoxically impoverishes our spirit. As in last week's reading, we find another sleight against Gentiles - Christians later made it worse by assuming a reference to the "heathen". Its justification is that Matthew (or Jesus?) was sufficiently aware of what drove the wider world to name it, even if grossly stereotyping the "other". The truth is that all human beings know the anxiety about not having enough love and being abandoned and all know that one strategy for filling the void is to accumulate wealth if not also power - we often accumulate the comforting layers of body of fat to our detriment for the same reason. Out of neediness we not only diminish ourselves - we rob others of justice and a fair share. The gospel deals with this gross injustice not primarily by telling us off, but by offering a new centre to our lives, a new centre of seeking, as 6:33 suggests.


The peace of Wild things

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Wendell Berry

Tomorrow’s worries

The sermon on the mount, so called

tells me that I should be content,

satisfied with all the blessings

that God has freely strewn

upon my privileged path.

So I am. And I am grateful.

My worries for tomorrow

are slight; I seldom dwell upon them.

I have clothes in my wardrobe,

food in my larder,

and money in my term deposits;

not huge, but enough.

I try to live generously;

sometimes I succeed.

But still I am angry,

for I know that there are some lilies

in God’s fields who are not arrayed

like Solomon in all his glory,

and that, unlike the birds of the air,

the barns of some are profoundly

and painfully empty

whilst others install locks

and pay for extra security measures

lest a few grains of their abundance

should somehow be lost, or shared.

And there are people for whom

the stores of fear never fail

who still set sail on wooden boats,

whilst grey steel ships

decked in colourful flags

as sent out to patrol anxious coasts

fearful for tomorrow.

© 2011 Ken Rookes
Thought I'd do a new one!

Strive first

Shelter from the elements,

clothing that is warm enough,

food that satisfies,

a healthy body

and people to share love with.

This, I think, is contentment;

though you would hardly know it existed

given the obscene salaries of CEOs,

the hugeness of mortgages,

the bleatings of mining companies

and the rampant desire of the wealthy

to minimise and avoid taxes. Never enough!

Contentment :is the place of divine security

from which the kingdom’s servant

laughs at other imagined needs,

land looks beyond to the real demands

of justice, peace and love.

God has supplied all that is needed;

who could desire anything else.

But there remains work to be done

for the sake of faithfulness,

much to be achieved

in the name of discipleship and love.

The kingdom has brought its own priorities;

it weeps and yearns and aches,

and will never cease

until each human life,

valued with the same loving wonder

that flows from the creator’s heart,

has been set free.

Ken Rookes

Monday, February 14, 2011

But I say to you

Yahweh-God had plenty of
opportunities to observe
and comment upon the
apparently inherent,
motivation of self-interest
dominating the social behaviour
of earth’s ascendant inhabitants..
Perhaps I made a few mistakes,
the almighty might have sighed
in divine cogitation
upon the propensity
of most human creatures
to push their freedom to the limits;
disregarding the needs of their fellows.
So it is that the lawmaker was sent
to establish some boundaries
and to remind the wandering
wilderness people
of their responsibilities.
A millennium or so later
the laughing man from the north came
with his message of outrageous love.
He had little interest
in rules and restrictions;
being more concerned with the infinite
and glorious possibilities
of human living,
with its reckless generosity,
foolish open-handedness
and unexpected grace. A few listened.
Most preferred the boundaries.

©2011 Ken Rookes

Be perfect?

Many people get a buzz out of hate and find solidarity (communion) in hating common enemies. It can shape national and ethnic identities, as it can denominations, and ideological and theological movements. To live with all people with respect, accepting the need for difficult negotiations and for courageous conflict resolution is demanding. Short-cuts through complexity do violence not only to the truth but also to people."Perfect" is not flawless, unstained purity, but integrity and truth. For the young man, later in 19:21, where Matthew introduces "perfect" again, it means, in a fine play on words, grown-up, mature faith which shows itself in a deep commitment to the poor. The same word means "perfect' and "mature". It is about grown-up faith. It is not about partial or part-time religiosity. There is for Matthew only one way for all - being completely open to love, to receive it and give it. In his own and sometimes controversial way Matthew makes this a theme through every main speech of Jesus and in the end makes it the sole criterion of judgement

perhaps not the right motivation

Jesus Said

I hope not

Love your enemies

I think we have a great sermon illustration this week with the events in Egypt. Massive change came about, not through violence, but through peaceful means.
Maybe the event that stood out to me most strongly was what happened when the Moslim protesters stopped for prayers. They were then surrounded by Egyptian Christians who circled them and faced the crowd to stop any possible violence against them from other protesters. 


Mahatma Gandhi, addressing a Christian group in 1927, said: 
“If I had to face only the Sermon on the Mount and my own interpretation of it, I should not hesitate to say, ‘Oh yes, I am a Christian.... But negatively I can tell you that much of what passes as Christianity is a negation of the Sermon on the Mount.” 

on enemies

C. S. Lewis on enemies:
"If we really want to learn how to forgive, perhaps we had better
start with something easier than the Gestapo."

... but i say to you, love your enemies

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness;
only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate;
only love can do that.”
—Martin Luther King Jr.

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Joy of Metaphors

The Joy of Metaphors

1 Corinthians 3:1 - 9

Knowing a good metaphor

when he saw one, the apostle

managed to cram two of them

into a fairly small space. He fed his

infant children, (is that a third?)

on milk rather than solid meat,

because that is as far as they had reached

in their journeyings of faith. (There,

I’ve introduced one of my own;

making a total of four.)

Even now, presumably some years

after the apostle’s Corinthian sojourn,

the children are still not ready

for the meat of discipleship.

You will be ready

when you learn to live in harmony,

he tells them. He then takes up

the gardening image, ever-popular

and much-employed by his own master.

Planting and watering

and growing to maturity;

his readers are purposed to bear the fruits

of which he is wont to write:

love, joy, peace, faith and hope,

but mostly love.

Unable to restrain himself, the apostle

grabs hold of few more metaphors;

and enthusiastically throws them into the mix

to drive the point home, (sorry!)

or else for the sheer joy of it.

© 2011 Ken Rookes

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Our deepest fear

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” (Marianne Williamson)(often attributed to nelson Mandela) 

You are the light of the world

Until now the following has been a little safe. It is safe to follow a messiah and to let him do all the work, hold all the responsibility, but when he turns and names you, that’s a whole different and scary matter.The key word here is “you!”Can you picture here what is happening? Jesus followers have gathered to hear his sermonThey have realised that he is the light of the world, he iss the messiah, they have decided to follow him, at lest for now. And then he turns to them and shockingly declares “You are the salt of the earth, You are the light of the world.”

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; ...