Monday, December 31, 2012

growing in wisdom and stature


....he grew in wisdom and stature, and in divine and human favour.
That is meant to be enough for us to know about Jesus at this stage. He continued to grow.
Do we continue to grow?
Is this something we see as Christ like, to continue to grow? Or has it become that we see our Christian duty as seeing to it that things remain as much as possible, the same?
Here in this gospel passage is a challenge that is echoed in Paul’s letter to the Colossians.
As God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.
3:13 Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.
3:14 Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
Wow, what a list. But here is a new year’s list that can really inspire us to grow in love and in God. This is a list that if we really took it on board would transform our life together and our life in the community around us.
Oops, I hear you say. That’s all too big. I can’t do all that. I’m only human after all.
Well, I am going to suggest that it may just be easier with so much to choose from. How about we take a moment to make a new year’s resolution based around the whole idea of continuing to grow in wisdom and in stature and particularly growing by clothing ourselves with love?
Lets make a do-able resolution for ourselves. 

Jesus' early life


In the centuries after Jesus a genre of "infancy narratives" emerged to embellish the "missing" or "hidden" years of Jesus with fanciful legends. In the Infancy Gospel of Matthew animals speak at Jesus’ nativity. In the Infancy Gospel of Thomas (c. 140–170), which Anne Rice utilized in her fictional Christ the Lord (2005), Jesus curses a playground bully who consequently dies, then raises him to life with a spontaneous wish-prayer. He turns clay pots into flying birds. In the Arabic Infancy Gospel (sixth century?) Jesus's diaper heals people, and his sweat cures leprosy. Other fables claim that when Jesus was twelve he sailed to England with Joseph of Arimathea and built a church near Glastonbury to honor his mother Mary, or that between the ages of twelve to thirty he studied in India, Persia, or Tibet.
           The early church rejected these fables about Jesus as spurious, and instead followed the lead of the gospel writers by contenting itself with ignorance and silence about Jesus’ early years. 
http://www.journeywithjesus.net/Essays/20061225JJ.shtml

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Obedience



The boy was twelve years old.
and precocious, according to the story.
The family holiday was a
Passover pilgrimage to the great city
with its temple of ages.
The grand stone building
was itself something of a parable
of death and resurrection;
erected, razed, reconstructed and refurbished
to represent and remind
of a presence, divine and beneficent..
In the end, it too, will be swept away;
for now it provides the stage
for a telling little domestic drama.
No mention, here, of his brothers and sisters;
they did what they were told,
and are therefore irrelevant to the story.
Disobedient Jesus, the errant son, 
disregarding the deadline for departing.
The twelve year-old,
considered responsible enough
to not need chasing,
was assumed to be among the company,
and not missed until the first night’s camp.
It took another two days to find him.
The recorded rebuke is surely understated,
with a hint of the parental distress and pain;
the raised voices are left to the imagination.
No real excuses,
unless you count the
“had to be in my Father’s house,” line.
In this day he might have been grounded
for some weeks – maybe months.
Jesus learned his lesson, so we are told,
and, upon returning home,
practised a righteous obedience
that honoured his parents and kept them happy.
If, however, we take the later incident seriously,
when his mum and his brothers turned up
to take the troublesome son in hand,
it may have been feigned.

© Ken Rookes 2012

Monday, December 24, 2012

Bethlehem Ephrathah




The rich had taken the best rooms
in the inns, and the private homes too.
The moderately well-off took the rest.
The poor camped where they could,
gathered around fires, swapped yarns,
got counted, and made their plans
to head home. Bethlehem
had taken on the appearance
of a refugee camp;
the city fathers were not impressed.

Joseph and Mary had been among
the campers by the creek,
until the contractions
of the impending birth drove them
to seek a more substantial shelter.
In a stable the animals seemed to enjoy
a tolerable standard of accommodation;
they decided to join them.
There the child would be born
and God made welcome.

© Ken Rookes

a different nativity

Sorry, not sure of the origins, but too good not to post.

The light shines in the darkness ...


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Beginnings




The seed that grows within the womb
of the bewildered child-woman
began, we are told,
as a loving, aching thought
in the mind of God.
The mysteries of our mortal being
lie deep in the pre-historic
annals of creation,
defying the simple explanations
of both religion and reason.
Those who embrace faith
will insist on one thing alone:
that its source is also love.
This love, they declare
in obedience to the one who they follow,
is the beginning of all that is good
and beautiful and true.

We cannot say with confidence
that the acts leading to impregnation
all have their genesis at that same point;
but their outcomes, small, pink and vulnerable,
always take us there.
Through circumstance
the child-woman from Nazareth
finds herself with her husband
in a Bethlehem stable; or so one story goes.
In this humble shelter, lacking in amenity
but with its own strange appropriateness and beauty,
the moment arrives; and the baby
is delivered among the straw,
with all the requisite pain, groans, tears and blood.
In this place, made holy,
and at this instant rendered sacred,
love begins its wondrous journey of fulfilment
among us all.

© Ken Rookes 2012

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Nativity worksheet


http://dailycoloringpages.com/images/nativity-diorama-christmas-coloring-pages-01.png

Nativity coloring


http://raisingourkids.com/coloring-pages/printable/bible/free/041-nativity-coloring-pages.gif

Monday, December 17, 2012

A message of compassion from our moderator


Revolution



You say you want a revolution, well you know, we all want to change the world.
Revolution #1, John Lennon, 1968.

The revolution failed in 1968.
The students of Prague, Chicago, West Berlin,
Paris, Mexico City, Madrid and other such places,
yearning, as they were, for a more just and true society,
gave it a fair shake,
but they were up against an indescribable behemoth.
In Luke’s gospel, the child-woman Mary
was the unlikely harbinger of a revolution
in which the powerful
were to be brought down from their thrones
and the lowly lifted up: Vive la revolution!
It was left to her son
and his assorted crew of fishermen and stirrers 
to make the running, to protest the injustice
of power, greed and wealth,
among other things, in his own day.
His revolution failed, too,
but it gave rise to a movement that never quite died.
These insurgents achieved the occasional small victory,
but have not yet realised their lofty goals,
even after two millennia.
The demons continue mighty, powerful and fierce;
having added to their toolbox
of cunning and treacherous devices,
these fearsome powers go undetected and unnamed.
Still there remain a defiant few
who have not bent the knee before the gods
of capital, greed and comfort;
a vestigial company, marked by love,
that sees beyond the shining lights
and the glistening lies.
They form a tenacious remnant,
and hold tightly to outrageous dreams,
determined to maintain their revolutionary fervour.
They refuse to surrender to despair;
they will not abandon hope.

© Ken Rookes 2012

Friday, December 14, 2012

Jacaranda Haiku




The jacaranda
glows violet in Advent;
hoping and waiting.



© Ken Rookes 2012
A haiku a bit similar to an old poem; but different enough. Haiku poems can be economical and fun.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Brood of vipers

Carol Night


Carol Night.
Candles glow amidst the tumult;
everywhere there is noise and movement
wonderful noise, wonderful movement.
People joining voices
sharing food and blankets
And the Children, the children
they are just children?
They cry and scream,
 laugh and tumble.
They are not angels are they?
One girl child, with glowing, stubby candle,
sits amidst the din;
stunned or dazzled,
amazed or distracted?
She sits
an image of stillness
with a stare at times
almost vacant;
or perhaps focussed
on the infinite?
She moves at last
to stand before her mother
and exclaims with pure awe,
“ Mummy, they’re just like stars!”
then moves back
to her place of watching.
Her mother;
sensing more than most
the ‘other’ in her daughter’s words
weeps tears of joy and wonder
at the beauty in the child.

Gordon Bannon

Monday, December 10, 2012

Kata Tjuta Nativity

Kata Tjuta Nativity
Linocut 2012
Ken Rookes.
Poem: One Word.

Earth, wind, fire and water.



His words pelted indiscriminately
like a summer storm;
you couldn’t avoid getting soaked in his message.
John the crazy water-man
didn’t polish his words;
he left the edges pointy-sharp,
called the crowd a nest of snakes.
Some slithered away. They had come
to satisfy their curiosity,
have a laugh, and boast among their friends.
Others stayed and listened,
yearning for a speck of gold.
They copped the flaming derision
and reckoned it a fair price
as the prophet’s wave of abrasive words
crashed over them,
leaving them saturated, raw and gasping.
.
Sort yourselves out before somebody else does.
The promised one is coming,
so get yourselves ready.

The water-man talked of the advent
of a man consonant with the cosmos,
one who would embody the four elements
from which all creation
has been lovingly sculpted; and a fifth.
He will be present in and amongst earth’s dust,
bring fire to warm despondent hearts,
Spirit-wind to breathe life and hope,
and the water that alone can truly quench
the thirst inside us all.
And a fifth is eternity.

© Ken Rookes 2012

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Disciple Haiku



Glows incandescent,
burning-out in the darkness,
passionate with hope.

© Ken Rookes 2012

Monday, December 3, 2012

… and Lysanias was ruler of Abilene.





Luke understood
that every story has a context,
that historical and cultural settings shift
and shape the meaning of a life.
Unconcerned with the trivialities
of diet and apparel, the gospel teller
identifies emperor and rulers
before presenting us with cousin John,
son of Zechariah and Elizabeth, who steps
outrageously from among the rocky hills.
He will preside, for a season,
over Jordan’s troubled waters.
The Baptiser, so-called, spoke
with the courage and recklessness
of Isaiah, Micah, Jeremiah
and all the others,
who, centuries long-past,
had been foolish enough to listen to,
and believe, the divine word.
The world, into which John
intruded his annoying message,
was wounded, tear-washed and bound.
Its dwellers had long accepted
the prevailing necessity of fear,
greed and suspicion, never guessing
that there might be an alternative.
Much like us.

The Baptiser called for mountains
and hills to be levelled,
and winding roads and tracks
to be made smooth and straight.
He warned all of us less than perfect people
to straighten out our twistings and evasions;
to prepare ourselves for something new.
A new someone who might just come
to drive a crazy cosmic bulldozer
through the obstacles of human living;
and then will come the grace.

© Ken Rookes 2012

Thursday, November 29, 2012

When Jesus returns




It doesn’t really matter what we do
in our own finite occupation
of planet earth, so one theory goes.
All the pollution and the global warming
and the depletion of the fishing stocks
and the extinction of various species;
not our problem.
And all the refugee camps in border regions
and the ragged children on the smoking
garbage mountains and all the repression
and the fear
and the greedy corporate exploitation
and all the political lies; about these things
we need have no concern.
Because Jesus is coming back.
Yeah, Jesus is coming back
and he’ll wave his hand, his magic
Holy Spirit hand, and the new heaven
will replace the old, and the new earth
will take over from the old
and everything will be clean and fresh
and smell like a pair of shiny new shoes
just out of their box.
Or so one theory goes.

© Ken Rookes

And another that provides something of a comment on the gospel for Sunday that some of you might enjoy. 

Don't stop now



We set out on our journey
when the words of life were spoken.
We knew we had to travel;
we knew the world was broken

We knew we had a message
that would breathe a new-found hope,
we knew it would not be easy,
we trusted we would cope.

We left behind our cares,
our fortune and desire.
We gathered up our courage;
we would set the world on fire.

Or so we hoped and so we prayed,
we studied and we plodded.
We collected our resources
while the Spirit pushed and prodded.

We saw our destination
unfold just like a vision;
we knew we had a calling,
we knew we had a mission.

Good news for the poor, we cry;
good news of love and grace!
The light is coming, now it’s here,
it shines upon each face.

We journey in the darkness,
we journey in the night,
we dine upon the wine, the bread
set at the table, white.

Injustice casts its shadow,
we feel its dreadful threat;
we know that love will triumph,
that love’s not finished yet.

So we confront the cruelty
the oppression and the greed;
dig deep into our calling
and find the strength we need.

But bitterness won’t go away
and fearfulness persists;
we weaken and grow weary,
and still the call insists.

“Let us go,” with worn-out cry
we make our loud request.
“The journey is too difficult
we need a place to rest.”

“All these years we’ve journeyed
we’ve struggled on and on,
but no-one seems to notice
and no-one sings our song.

“And no-one seems to care,
the world has not been righted;
this kingdom’s too elusive,
it is so seldom sighted.


“All people should be saved by now,
and dwell in heavenly bliss!
There are not many left of us,
we can’t go on like this!

We cannot help but question,
we have to voice our doubt;
where is the gospel power,
where’s that hallelujah shout?

We didn’t really plan for this;
Ha, we didn’t plan at all.
No planning but a simple “yes,”
when caught inside love’s thrall.

We stand within the silence,
we wait for a reply.
The road ahead seems unconcerned,
the road behind asks, “Why?”

“Why?” and “What?” and “Can it be?”
“How can we know the way?”
We search inside the stillness
for a reason not to stay.

“Don’t stop now!” the call responds,
“Keep on the road, my friend!
You know that once you’ve started
you must see it to the end.

“You think you’ve made a sacrifice,
perhaps you have, that’s fine.
Your gifts of love are noted;
all gifts of love are mine.

“There’s beauty in your weariness,
there’s beauty in persistence.
There’s glory in defiant acts,
in grace, and truth’s resistance.

“The destination’s guaranteed,
don’t worry you can’t see it.
The journey is the place of truth
for those who choose to be it.

“This broken world’s still waiting
for my children to arrive,
to build the peace and bring the love;
to make it come alive.

“So don’t forsake the journey,
no, don’t give up the fight;
and don’t forget my Spirit’s yours;
walk in the Spirit’s light.

And though the way be painful,
and though the night be strong,
remember that you’re not alone;
come join the angels’ song

© Ken Rookes
I shared this at my last presbytery meeting on Tuesday. On reflection it seems to have some relevance to the Gospel reading for Sunday, being the first in Advent.