Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The paradox of Prayer


The Paradox of Prayer
I know that the prayers of those other parents and children were not less worthy than mine. I am not ungrateful, but I can’t forget the children who were left behind and I do not know what my prayer or my love or my ministry would be like had I not carried my children out of the hospital corridors alive and while. Yet I sensed at the time that God was present in death as well as if life. It was not a sense of comfort of assurance that I experienced, but a love that did not depend on life or death.
A hospital corridor can be a mysterious place, a terrible and holy threshold upon the boundary of the soul. Here you will find an opening through which you might apprehend and embrace unexperienced aspects of God. Uprooted from your ordinary days, the hospital confounds the peaceful soul with the realization that the God of daily living is also the God of sudden dying. The God of the comforting parish sanctuary is also the God of the Intensive Care Unit. The God of beeswax candle and incense is the God of vomit and pus; the God of white linen and embroidered chasuble is the God of plastic curtain and sweaty sheet; the God of organ and flute is the God of squeaky gurney wheels and crying children; the God of deep port wine and delicately embossed communion bread is the God of infected blood and wounded flesh.
The God of all those corridor smells and sights and sounds is also the God of profound silence. When despair has obliterated ordinary prayer, when the psalms fail and all words are stupid and meaningless, the mantle of loneliness surrounding me becomes a mantle of dark and wordless love. This darkness reveals the paradox of prayer: in the absence of God, all there is, is God.
Suzanne GuthrieGrace’s Window

Monday, February 27, 2012

Come with me



The road will not be easy,

said the man. Come with me anyway.

It is the road to life.


The rain beats down

outside my window;

the sky is dark, ominous.


Forecasting the strife and enmity

that follow those who tread truthful paths,

the human one speaks with quiet resolve.


Come with me, says the man to his friends;

embrace the sacrifice, along with its pain,

for the sake of love’s revolution.


There will be troubles;

burdens to be borne purposefully

with hope and occasional joy.


They are cross-shaped;

the meaning of their awkward symmetry

will one day be plain.


For now you must determine

to loosen your grip on your chosen life;

that to which you cling, you shall lose.


The human one addresses his friends again:

Come with me, into the dark, driving rain;

and defy the fear.


© Ken Rookes 2012

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

defeating evil with love



There is no greater victory of evil than the reaction of guilt and despair which it arouses in those who have committed a sin, or of fear, anger and hate in those who have been wronged. Conversely, there is no greater victory over evil than to refuse to give in to these feelings, to refuse to act on them, to harbour them or justify them. We defeat evil - in ourselves, in others or in the world - when we refuse to react to it with more evil, but respond to it with repentance, forgiveness and love.
-Irma Zaleski
The Way of Repentance

The Baptism of Jesus

Rosalind Hore

The Baptism of the Christ: painting

Daniel Bonnell

wholly within love


In the wilderness we are connected to what God is doing in the world. In the wilderness, when all else is taken away, we learn the value of things, and the ultimate value of love. Author and poet, Madeline L’Engle puts it this way:
“To learn to love
is to be stripped of all love
until you are wholly without love
because
until you have gone
naked and afraid
into this cold dark place
where all love is taken from you
you will not know
that you are wholly within love.”
(From Lines Scribbled on an Envelope, New York: Ferrar, Straus and Giroux, 1969, p. 49)

Monday, February 20, 2012

What do you want me to do?

Gospel writer Mark

is a man of few details;

he invites us to employ our imaginations.

He gives us a wilderness Jesus,

no longer under pressure

from demands of family or carpenter’s shop.

Perhaps he left the trade behind,

as well as the family,

when he moved to Capernaum.

Time to think; to weigh his options.

I picture him as a frugal man,

of independent means, at least in the short term,

with a modest sum set aside

for the purpose of taking a bride

and embracing family life;

he had certainly reached the age.

Still single at thirtyish, the mid-life crisis

had been nagging away for some time,

and the recent changes in his life

showed that its course was far from fixed.

Since childhood he had felt a persistent

sense of mystery, of a divine something

that seemed not to disturb others

in quite the same way.

He had often asked questions of this spirit,

and sensed it interrogating him;

his head shouting silently

through the sounds of hammer, saw and plane.

The answers were elusive

and the questions persistent.

Now, driven into the wilderness

after the baptism event with John,

the debate increases in tempo

as the shoutings move outside his head

to echo in the desert night,

“What do you want me to do?”


© Ken Rookes 2012

Monday, February 13, 2012

bright with miracle


 


“All was as it had ever been -
the worn familiar book
 the oak behind the hawthorn seen,
 the misty woodlands look:

The starling perched up on the tree
 with his long tress of straw
when suddenly heaven blazed on me,
and suddenly I saw:

saw all as it would ever be,
 in bliss too great to tell;
 for ever safe, for ever free,
all bright with miracle.”
(Ruth Pitter)

Affirmation


Affirmation
Let us affirm our faith together:
We believe in a God who is
never confined to our imagining,
is never in bondage to our beliefs,
and never held fast in our dwelling places.
Our God is the mystery of divine
and human bound together,
of power and vulnerability, of crucifixion and resurrection.
Our God is the wonder of truth and compassion,
of liberation and responsibility of
eternal wisdom and costly grace.
We celebrate this God who leaps free of all our boundaries in love
 stretching out from horizon to horizon,
and in mercy bending deep into fragile human hearts.
by Dorothy McCrae--McMahon from 'Prayers for life's particular moments'.

Beyondness


“[I believe] there is nothing more needed by humanity today …
than the recovery of a sense of “beyond-ness
in the whole of life to revive the springs of wonder and adoration.”  John. V Taylor

Stepping from shadows

Stepping from dark shadows

into dazzling sunlight;

transfiguration.

So the glowing Jesus

appeared before a select few,

who came, in time, to appreciate

that light emanates from deep within

the soul/spirit/mind/heart

of the one who shines.

“Listen to him,” speaks one

who is traditionally thought of

as shining from on high.

But his words are difficult;

commanding a lifetime

of exploration and striving to comprehend;

and still the grasping is not complete.

They call us all to glow with him

as his curiously present spirit

cajoles and reshapes

our soul/spirit/mind/hearts,

beckoning us to step

from comfortable shadows

into healing light;

to share his outrage

and to become joined with him

in weeping pain,

suffering love

and unfathomable joy.


© Ken Rookes 2012

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Beauty

The heart outstrips the clumsy senses, and sees … an undistorted and more veritable world.  All things are perceived in the light of charity, and hence under the aspect of beauty: for beauty is simply Reality seen with the eyes of love.  
- Evelyn
 Underhill

no outsiders

   In his book What Jesus Meant Garry Wills writes, "no outsiders were cast out far enough in Jesus' world to make him shun them — not Roman collaborators, not lepers, not prostitutes, not the crazed, not the possessed. Are there people now who could possibly be outside his encompassing love?" Instead of defining other people outside the love of God, we're better off imitating the apostle Paul, an apostolic insider, who in the epistle for this week contemplates the real and harrowing possibility of his own banishment to outsider perdition (1 Corinthians 9:24–27).
http://www.journeywithjesus.net/Essays/20120206JJ.shtml

Jesus was not s slave of patterns

"Why shouldn't Paul use the latest wisdom from the secular world about self management and motivational training? Paul is wonderfully flexible at times. He sees through rules and regulations and through claims of status to what really matters. What really matters for him is making the message and meaning of the gospel known. There may have been patterns for doing so in the past (which probably suited semi rural Galilee), but even if they were established by Jesus (as they were!), that doesn't mean they can't be changed in new situations. Love has the capacity to change, to adapt, to be flexible. Paul's way of doing things made good 'love-sense' in the situations he faced. His priority was the love expressed in the gospel. It was not ensuring other people recognised his official status or even with ensuring a 'Lord Jesus' got things done in exactly the right way. Paul's Lord, Jesus, was not a slave of patterns (or the lord of patterns!) and obsessed with being a lord, but one who emptied himself, poured himself out. That is where Paul is coming from. That is why he can be free. That is also why he can appeal to common sense."
http://wwwstaff.murdoch.edu.au/~loader/BEpEpiphany6.htm

Monday, February 6, 2012

The prize

1 Corinthians 9:24 - 27



Got to do the training,

got to make an effort;

don’t want to let my comrades down

so I’ll forward put my best foot.


Got to keep on keeping on,

yeah, got to persevere;

to climb over the obstacles

and overcome the fear.


This race it is for everyone,

no heats to qualify in,

no starter’s gun, so join right in;

and soon you will be flying


A race unique in character,

no contest with each other,

the Spirit joins us in a team

to run this race together.


There’s a goal been set before us,

a wreath that’s in the making,

a kingdom shaped by grace and love,

the prize there for the taking.


Justice, peace, these are the goals,

and loving is the process.

Getting all the loving right

will guarantee our success.


We can all be winners, yeah,

there’s no-one has to lose it;

the race itself is prize enough,

so get on board and choose it.


©Ken Rookes 2012

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Like Eagles


Isaiah 40: 21-31 A Reflection.



It all begins in mystery;

voices in the darkness,

whispers strained after,

questions.

Do you know?

Have you heard?

Can you possibly understand even just a glimmer?


Above the vault of the heavens

and beyond the deep night,

is the point where mystery takes breath

and light begins.

The one whose love is source of all,

looks with tenderness upon everything that has been made,

numbers and names each of earth’s inhabitants

and notes their various locations.

Like grasshoppers they leap about

as they make their way.


Some rise high, use their

wealth and power

to dominate and control

they will be brought to nothing.

Like plants they sprout,

green, proud and strong,

little dreaming that one day a divine breath will come

to blow scorchingly upon them;

they wither, and are reduced to dust.

They will be carried away to nothingness,

along with their memory.


We are left to wonder at mystery,

but she evades our grasp.

Invited to make comparisons,

to identify her equal,

we find none;

we are silent.


A voice speaks to challenge:

Behold: each star in its allotted place,

each one numbered

and recorded, along with its name

in the celestial register;

they are all present, none is missing.

Can there be any mightier

than the one who has appointed them?


You who have become discouraged and fearful,

believing you have been abandoned,

that the one who called you into being is absent

and there is none to hold you to account;

you are mistaken.

You are remembered, you are known.


You were never lost;

even in this place, far from where you want to be,

the tireless mystery knows you, finds you.

Her love for you does not weaken,

His care for you is undiminished.

Those who are about to faint with fear and sorrow

will find strength.

Those who feel that they have no future

will find hope.


Laugh into the darkness,

gesture with defiance towards the night.

The beauty power of youth is a wonderful thing,

it, too will pass.

Even the fittest will grow weary and fail

and the finest athlete will become weak and exhausted.

It is those who know the presence of their maker,

who hold fast to his promises,

who trust in her love;

these will stand.

They will complete the journey that has been set before them,

they will not fall.

They will be like eagles.


©Ken Rookes 2012
This is a reflection on Isaiah 40:21-31. It's a bit of a work in progress, but I think it might be helpful in getting into the spirit of the passage.
It's Friday night and I have made some amendments!