Monday, January 30, 2012

Growing weary


“ . . . but those who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength,

they shall mount up with wings like eagles,

they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”

Isaiah 40: 31.


Like the alleged behaviour of the ostrich,

the young bury their heads

in the nearest party; the flashing lights

and booming speakers joining to affect

a most efficient bouncer, large and unarguable,

to exclude uninvited realities.

Their parents did much the same,

retreating to their picture-window caves

with the essential light box flickering

in the corner, and tantalising with its

pleasant dancing magazine pictures

and offering only the tidily groomed

dressed-up view of world and nation

approved by the dominant consumerist paradigm.

Insistent reality, sad and unfashionable,

and bearing the accusing scars of

injustice, avarice and fear,

has been officially declared a source of boredom

and ordered to wait at the gate.

It makes us weary;

we would rather it intruded somewhere else.


© Ken Rookes 2012

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The demons

The early paths

of my neo-pentecostal meanderings

passed by way of the demons.

Taking literally the stories

of gospel writer Mark, et al,

like this one set in Capernaum,

we addressed these shadowy

and unclean spirits;

commanding an immediate departure

from their unsuspecting hosts.

I sometimes wondered where they went.

The dark and horned tormenting creatures

of medieval and renaissance paintings

have become mainstream.

Joining their vampire/werewolf/monster

allies on flickering screens,

these demons create easy

and seemingly illicit thrills

for new generations of children

who have become bored with the sameness

of their comfortable lives

and yearn for mystery,

whatever its colour.

I no longer believe in demons;

there is sufficient cruelty and derision

in the brokenness of humankind.

Mystery, however, rainbow-hued and shining,

intrudes persistently into my disbelief;

she brings no cheap shivers.

She will not be grasped, nor commanded,

but may be glimpsed

in the stories of the Nazarene

and those he encountered.

Like this troubled and damaged man, who,

hearing an unexpected and disturbing

word of love,

begins his freedom life.


© Ken Rookes 2012
I may make some changes. It will do for now.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Jesus who cast out demons


Franne
On Wednesday we gathered,
ignoring the heat, to remember
and celebrate a flurry
of fabric and colour. Franne,
outspoken, passionate,
lover of people; one
touched recklessly by the Spirit.
We heard how she harangued
the former PM on the Town Hall steps
in the election that he would eventually lose.
Franne struggled and triumphed
but lost her final battle.
For many years she set aside
her own darkness, to contend
defiantly with the evils of the wider world,
bringing all the powers of her creative mind
to her divine calling.
It must have been a black and cruel place
from which she determined
that there could be no other escape.
Jesus, who cast out demons,
however we understand them;
bring your light into our places of darkness
and flood us with your love;
that we might be passionate healers,
defiant confronters,
and creators of hope.

Ken Rookes

The image of Jesus as exorcist?


The image of Jesus as exorcist is someone who has experienced his own demons (Mark 1:12-13). The temptation stories (of which we will hear in a few weeks as we enter Lent) point to the image of a wounded healer, to an image of one who by his own experience understands vulnerability and internalized oppression. In having recovered their own hearts, healers have some understanding of the suffering of others.

Naming the demons means knowing the demons . . . The Gospels imply that anyone who exorcises cannot be a stranger to demons . . . To have faced our demons is never to forget their power to hurt and never to forget the power to heal that lies in touching broken-heartedness . . . Jesus hears, below the demon noises, an anguished cry for deliverance. Through . . . mutual touching, . . . community is co-created as a continuing, liberating, redemptive reality. – Rita Nakashima Brock, Journeys by Heart: A Christology of Erotic Power (Crossroad Publishing, 1988).

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

nothing is more practical than finding God

Nothing is more practical than
finding God, than
falling in Love
in a quite absolute, final way.
What you are in love with,
what seizes your imagination, will affect everything.
It will decide
what will get you out of bed in the morning,
what you do with your evenings,
how you spend your weekends,
what you read, whom you know,
what breaks your heart,
and what amazes you with joy and gratitude.
Fall in Love, stay in love,
and it will decide everything.
-Attributed to Fr. Pedro Arrupe, SJ (1907–1991)Finding God in All Things: A Marquette Prayer Book
http://www.edgeofenclosure.org/epiphany3b.html  

Monday, January 16, 2012

We are Jonah


Please read the whole of Jonah this week. It is not that long and it is rich and full of the radical message of God's grace and of our need to live graciously and mercifully. This is not just a story about a whale and a reluctant prophet, or merely about Ninevah. It is about us.
We are Nineveh. We are Jonah. We don’t know what it was that Jonah did. Maybe they polluted the environment, maybe they oppressed the poor, maybe they worshiped false Gods. The point is that they repented of their actions and then God repented of Gods.
A story, but very real. Grace was there for Nineveh, even though they had done great wrongs. Grace was there for Jonah when Jonah was at his lowest. But the real challenge of Jonah is to see the grace and activity of God being present not just for ourselves but also for even those we regard as our enemies. This book is about the presence of God’s grace and the absence of Jonah’s.

The greatest of these is 'faith'???

Although Paul maintains that while faith, hope and love abide, "the greatest of these is love," I believe that many Protestants have decided that the greatest of these is actually faith—as in "orthodoxy" of one sort or another—and that little else matters, least of all incarnation.

S.T. Kimbrough suggests that evangelism is increasingly difficult not because our pluralism, consumerism or attention span makes us resistant, but because we fail to incarnate the love we preach. We can't persuade others that we are people of peace because there is so much strife and contention among us—and we are often more eager to be right, or to win, than to be loving. We offer forensic invitations to discipleship—come think like us—instead of a mutually transforming hospitality: come be with us; let's learn together.

I think of all this as I reflect on today's lessons, especially Jonah's "second" call to preach in Ninevah. Why does the word have to come to Jonah twice before he obeys? The Ninevites hear only once before they repent.

One answer is the abiding irony that we people of God—even God's representatives—are often reluctant to live into the word we've received. In spite of Paul's counsel, we hold onto the present form of this world. We do not leave our boats as the Zebedees did but instead try to get Jesus to come aboard and make us more successful in our existing work. Though God obviously loves our enemies, we do not—like Jonah, we often resent God's grace. We are left to wonder, as the light of Epiphany grows brighter, why it is that as God's people we are often left in the shadows.
Although Paul maintains that while faith, hope and love abide, "the greatest of these is love," I believe that many Protestants have decided that the greatest of these is actually faith—as in "orthodoxy" of one sort or another—and that little else matters, least of all incarnation.

S.T. Kimbrough suggests that evangelism is increasingly difficult not because our pluralism, consumerism or attention span makes us resistant, but because we fail to incarnate the love we preach. We can't persuade others that we are people of peace because there is so much strife and contention among us—and we are often more eager to be right, or to win, than to be loving. We offer forensic invitations to discipleship—come think like us—instead of a mutually transforming hospitality: come be with us; let's learn together.

I think of all this as I reflect on today's lessons, especially Jonah's "second" call to preach in Ninevah. Why does the word have to come to Jonah twice before he obeys? The Ninevites hear only once before they repent.

One answer is the abiding irony that we people of God—even God's representatives—are often reluctant to live into the word we've received. In spite of Paul's counsel, we hold onto the present form of this world. We do not leave our boats as the Zebedees did but instead try to get Jesus to come aboard and make us more successful in our existing work. Though God obviously loves our enemies, we do not—like Jonah, we often resent God's grace. We are left to wonder, as the light of Epiphany grows brighter, why it is that as God's people we are often left in the shadows.

Annoyance


Annoyance

Jonah was a prophet,
a clever little man,
who would declare the word of God
according to God's plan.

Jonah was a numbers man
who carefully kept score,
of all the nations' rights and wrongs
according to God's law.

Jonah liked his message
of judgment and of gloom;
he liked to see the bad guys
get what was coming to 'em.

When Jonah got to Nineveh,
after perils quite aquatic,
imagine his disgust when God
chose to be acquit-ic.

Jonah said, "I told you so,
It's all a wild goose chase!
I knew you wouldn't punish them
when you sent me to this place."

Then God replied, "I'm sorry, mate,
but we don't see eye to eye.
I'd rather choose the way of grace
than to see these people die.

"But that's the way I am, yeah,
and that's the way it be.
You can choose to nurse your anger
or show pardon just like me."

© Ken Rookes

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Tingling


The child hears a voice,

assumes it is that of his substitute father,

(who else could it be?)

and rises from his slumber

to attend the aging priest.

On the third occasion

the old man wakes up,

realises it just might be the voice

of the almighty.

Disturbing prospect,

still he tells the boy how to answer.

At the fourth attempt the young acolyte

finally gets the message,

then lies awake for the rest of the night,

ears tingling with worry.

Like we all do when first addressed

by divine mystery;

until we realise that the divine spirit

is part of the deal.

It’ll be all right, frightened boy Samuel;

sure, your worries have multiplied

a thousandfold,

but you’re not alone.

© Ken Rookes

We had no idea

Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” John 1:46:45

We were not expecting the Messiah

to emerge from Hicksville.

We did not imagine that the unloved Samaritans

would provide the hero for a Jewish rabbi’s story.

We could never guess that sinners,

prostitutes and tax collectors

would be named in the first eleven

ahead of those practising good religion.

We are comforted by the order

and predictability of our world

of black, white, wrong, right;

and we are well practiced in the arts of resisting

that which we are not expecting.

We never anticipated that the almighty God,

maker of law and upholder of all virtue,

would tear up the rulebook and scatter its pages

in the winds of grace

No. He took us by surprise.

Just as we had no idea that the Spirit would come

to roar and burn and sweep us up

into the realm of perpetual wonder,

and that, to this day,

she still unsettles us.


© Ken Rookes


Monday, January 9, 2012

Nazareth

"Can Anything Good Come Out of Nazareth?" John1:46 Slideshow: Pilgrimthomas’s trip to Nazareth, Galilee, Israel was created by TripAdvisor. See another Nazareth slideshow. Create your own stunning free slideshow from your travel photos.

Can anything good come out of???

Can anything good come out of Nazareth???


For Jesus to call someone a “true Israelite” was a tremendous compliment. For him to say that Nathanael was someone “without deceit” is a very positive spin on his cynicism. It’s saying that Nathanael was a no-nonsense kind of guy. What blows Nathanael’s mind is when Jesus explains how he knows that Nathanael is a true Israelite without deceit. Because Jesus saw him under the fig tree when he was talking smack about Jesus’ hometown! In other words, Nathanael knows in that moment that Jesus can see right through him, but that He’s decided to describe what He sees in the most positive terms possible. Because Jesus is the opposite of cynical!
Jesus goes on to tell Nathanael: “You will see greater things than these. You will see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” And whether Jesus is talking to Nathanael about the day when He would ascend to heaven after His resurrection or the time when He will come again with the angels from heaven at the end of time, His words also capture something beautiful about the way that our eyes can be opened by God when we are converted from our cynicism into faith in the reality of His kingdom. We too can see heaven open when we look at the world through the eyes of faith. The word for angel in Greek – αγγγελος – can refer to the supernatural creatures that surround the throne of God, but it can also mean just “messenger.” God is sending us messengers all the time! God is always using people in our lives to encourage us, to challenge us, to test our faith, all for the purpose of drawing us into a closer walk of discipleship with Him. Many of you in this room have been angels in my life whether you knew that’s what God was up to or not.
We’re not going to see God’s angels all around us if we’re addicted to cynicism. All that we’ll ever see when we look around are dirty run-down tobacco towns or Pleasantville suburgatories. And all that we’ll say is “What good could happen in a place like this?” But when we come to Jesus, He refuses to leave us that way, because He sees our real beauty, the way that we could be in Him, true Israelites in whom there is no deceit.

seriously John

DESCRIPTION: Man in sheep clothing talking to John the Baptist CAPTION: SERIOUSLY, JOHN, YOU NEED TO DITCH THAT CAMEL HAIR AND TRY SHEEP

Monday, January 2, 2012

Baptise me, John.


Baptise me, John.

I’m tired, need a change,

something to happen,

don’t know what.

Immerse me;

let the Jordan splash over me

and let it wash me deep.

Let the icy plunge

surprise me wakingly and cause me to gasp

as it removes the weary dust

of failure, fear and disappointment.

The water that splashes over my head;

let it clear my mind of narrowness

and open my eyes to the broadest spectrum

of things new and holy.

Drench me, John, that I may be ready

for the soaking of the Divine One

who is surely present in the water

and all around.

Let me be covered

and let me be naked.

Baptise me, John;

mingle my tears with your disturbing water

and turn me around

that I might find the new path,

and the way, beginning here,

among Jordan’s rocks and wetness.


© Ken Rookes

The Plunge

Jesus, source of living water,

when you went to the Jordan that day

to hear the Baptiser’s cry,

what did you come to see?

Did you go seeking advice

about the lonely life of the prophet?

Were you expecting to be moved

by his message? When you answered

his call to repent and joined him in the waters,

what were you thinking?

How did you decide that his strident

call to sinners needed the tempering

of love’s gracious invitation?

Tell me, Jesus, was there already

an inner growing gnawing realisation

that your carpenter’s skill

with timber, joints and nails

was about to give way to a new vocation

of stories, speakings, sharings

and sacrifice?

Or was it only when the Baptiser

took you into the cool water,

and you emerged, saturated,

and kissed by the Spirit-dove,

that you had any idea

of what the voice might be trying to say,

or of what a beloved son

might be expected to do?


© Ken Rookes