Monday, October 31, 2011
Jim Wallis, one of the founders of the Sojourners community, told a story about a colleague living in a village in Central America. She worked in a community that was marginalized in all kinds of ways. She poured herself into her work for social justice, laboring with great might to bring change to this village. One day, some of the people of the village came to her, asking her why she worked so hard, why she didn’t join them in their fiestas or sit with them in their porches in the evening.
“There’s too much work to do!” the laboring woman replied. “I don’t have enough time.”
“Oh,” the people of the village said. “You’re one of those.”
“One of who?” the woman asked.
“You are one of those,” they responded, “who come to us and work and work and work. Soon you will grow tired, and you will leave. The ones who stay,” they said, “are the ones who sit with us on our porches in the evening and who come to our fiestas.”
Jim Wallis said that his colleague took the story to heart, that she became a party animal, and that she was still there.
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Those who impart knowledge
and engender learning,
should be bearers of truth;
what else is worth telling?
This high calling brings its own reward.
Just as well; teachers today
might console themselves with the story
of Jesus, the itinerant teacher,
who practised what he taught
and depended upon the generosity
of those who heard his stories.
As an educator,
the Nazarene lacked a Dip. Ed,
but his teaching methods
didn’t seem to suffer as a result.
Of course, to become learned back then
one went and sat at the feet
of the best teacher one could find;
listened intently, and did one’s best
to create an intelligent dialogue.
(A rare thing in any age!)
No degrees or diplomas then,
simply the boast that called upon
and extolled the reputation of one’s master.
We don’t know much of Jesus’ schooling,
save one small glimpse, (probably mythical,
but ringing true), at the age of twelve.
Then he was said to be a prodigy,
precocious enough to take on
and astound the heavies in the temple.
Among the truths that Jesus told
were teachings about the humility
that should envelop all
who have been graced
by the deep and loving
wisdom from above.
© Ken Rookes 2012
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Broad, with long fringes,
Hey, look at me,
I’m righteous, holier
than you mob.
God himself listens
to me when I pray.
Just do what I do,
keep yourself nice,
and your family.
Do the right thing,
support the government,
give to charities,
stay away from sinners.
The world will be better for your efforts,
and not only that,
but God will bless you.
They’ll all notice,
see how well you’re doing,
realise what a great person you are.
It works for me.
Just keep your phylacteries
broad, and your fringes long.
© Ken Rookes
Thursday, October 20, 2011
-Meister Eckhart 1260-1327
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
The greatest commandment,
or rather, the pair of them
as defined a couple of millennia ago
by the travelling teacher from the north;
would be lucky to make a top-ten list today.
God has gone out of fashion,
being invoked occasionally
for desperation cameo roles;
so there’s not much call for the first part.
A polite consensus keeps the second part alive,
however, with most people agreeing
that to love one’s neighbour is important,
but should be practised within limits.
What we need is a drive to reinvigorate
the loving of our neighbour.
Perhaps we could rewrite it:
in a way that would make it be more acceptable:
“Love your neighbour when it proves convenient.”
“Love your neighbour in principle,”
“Love your neighbour occasionally;
once a month or so.”
“Love your neighbour
when she/he is deserving of your munificence.”
“Love your neighbour when you’ve finished
with the more important things.”
Yes, any of these could workand help us all to avoid unseemly extremes.
© Ken Rookes 2011
The greatest commandment,
according to one who studied the matter
so that it might shape his living, is one of a pair:
the loving of God
and the loving of people
with whom our lives intersect.
Which means treating them with respect
and extending to all the benefit of the doubt.
It means other things, too;
like acting graciously
when we find ourselves
elevated above others;
taking every opportunity for kindness,
and behaving with gentleness
when circumstances become coarse or brutal.
It leads to an attitude of healing
and allows blessings to punctuate our speaking.
It quietly takes within the surrounding pain,
and voices outrage for the sake of the little ones
whose tongues have been silenced.
The greatest commandment
is also the most costly.
It sings and sighs,
exults and bleeds;
all the time bringing glory
to the one who ordained it.
like the universe
of which it is intended to be the centre.
© Ken Rookes
Monday, October 17, 2011
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Read more: http://www.beliefnet.com/Faiths/2000/04/What-Belongs-To-God.aspx?p=2#ixzz1aRscV5CY
Monday, October 10, 2011
And he said to him,
“If your presence will not go,
do not carry us up from here.” Exodus 33:15
Don’t mess with us, God.
If you’re not going to stick around
then let us end it now.
Find another people
and we will find another god.
The golden calf may have been a crude
and cold surrogate deity,
unlikely to prove particularly effective
but it was shiny and it was ours.
Substitute or not, when we needed it
we knew where it could be found.
Promise us, God,
that you will go with us,
as, sore, weary and failing;
we take faltering steps,
and stumble uncertainly towards
our unknown destination.
Smoke, fire and wonders
have told of your undoubted power;
we have been impressed, but these
are not enough.
Only your presence,
your life-giving presence;
without your presence we fail.
© Ken Rookes
from Psalm 99
We like the idea
of an avenging angel;
the notion that divine judgement might
embody itself in one who will visit
righteous retribution upon those who
misuse their power
to abuse and exploit and destroy.
There, in the scriptures,
we find an image of the avenging God,
jealous and wrathful, and we imagine
a dark death-like figure
confronting the unrighteous
with the reality of their sin/crimes
the vengeance is exacted.
Injustice, of course,
takes many scales and forms:
small acts of indifference, greed
and fearful withholding;
and medium sized dealings of opportunism,
Then there are the avertings of eyes,
the stoppings of ears,
and the convenient silences
in the face of political compromise
and institutional apathy.
Two millennia ago,
fortunately for us, a carpenter
from a northern province in Palestine
enacted a word of grace
to override demands for vengeance,
and to liberate us from our fears.
Still, the psalmist reminds us, God,
like the aforementioned carpenter,
is a lover of what is right and true.
No longer directed by fear
but guided by love,
his friends now join joyfullyin his work of justice.
©Ken Rookes 2011
Monday, October 3, 2011