Thursday, March 29, 2012

a painful smile

Shusako Endo
The Pesach (Passover) was at hand. The people preparing for the festival were looking back on their long history, rueful over the anguished adversity of their ancient wandering migrations, and they prayed with fervor that God would come again to restore prosperity to his land now trampled underfoot by the Gentiles. Jesus, of course, knew the spirit of the feast. On this particular day, shortly before the festival itself began, with full knowledge he dared to plunge into that whirlpool of popular misunderstanding. Descending from the Mount of Olives and through the cheers from the crowd, he certainly knew that he was soon going to disappoint these people, and that the people in their frustration would then turn against him. . . . Jesus, coming down the mountain and entering the city, wore a painful smile.

celebrating nonetheless

"Jesus' awareness of his impending death permeates his actions and can be compared, i believe, to the knowledge held today by the terminally ill ... Jesus on Palm Sunday may be likened to the cancer patient who celebrates and anniversary - fully aware of the "lastness" of it all, yet celebrating nonetheless."
Lucy Bregman

a celebration of misunderstanding

I write this on a day given to remembering the triumphant entry of Christ into Jerusalem. This year the day seems empty and abstract. The events of the week are too overpowering. The knowledge that Christ's entry led directly to his Crucifixion looms too [grimly] ahead. This seems the strangest holiday of the year, a celebration of misunderstanding. In this world, the [dominion] has not yet come, though our hearts long for it and our lives incline toward it.
John Leax

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Leave her alone

An exploration in poetry and art.
I hope you find it useful.
Let me know what you think.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Palm Sunday coloring

Christ's entry into Jerusalem

Christ's entry into Jerusalem
wonderful watercolour by norman Adams

save us from self-interest

"Jesus declines to ask God to save him, he rather requests the Father to glorify his name. At face value it would seem that the Jerusalem fan parade is glorifying God’s name but they are not really. They are simply demanding their own liberation. “Save us now!“
The paradox of Jesus’ life is that the glorification of God’s name is found  in the ignonimity and humiliation of the accursed one who is nailed up on a tree. It is from there that the salvation called for in the Hosanna arises.  However, this salvation is now completely redefined by the poured out life on the cross.
Which brings me to that Jerusalem flash mob and their, “God help us! God save us!”
Isn’t that the most primal prayer ever prayed?"

Monday, March 26, 2012


Jesus didn’t procrastinate.

“May as well be hanged for a sheep as a lamb,”

he murmured quietly to his friends

as he made his arrangements to take the city.

“We’ll use a colt, though;

don’t want them to get the wrong idea.”

Which wrong idea, Jesus?

There seems to be a rich array to choose from.

Which idea did the crowd get

as they stripped the trees of their lower branches

and cast their robes into the dust?

“I was there when he rode into town!”

they would later say to their friends,

forgetting to mention

that they were part of another crowd

later in the week.

What did they hope for;

were they expecting more miracles

from the radical rabbi?

And what did they get

for their glimpse at celebrity?

A man like themselves,

but one determined to follow

his divine parent’s strange path

of courageous defiance, reckless generosity,

and foolish love.

© Ken Rookes

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

unless a grain of wheat ...

in my end is my beginning

[Seed logo]
Love is most nearly itself
When here and now cease to matter.
Old men ought to be explorers  
Here or there does not matter
We must be still and still moving
Into another intensity
For a further union, a deeper communion
Through the dark cold and the empty desolation,
The wave cry, the wind cry, the vast waters
Of the petrel and the porpoise. 
In my end is my beginning.

-T.S.Eliot   1888-1965
  'East Coker'  (last lines)

Monday, March 19, 2012


Love is a seed,

its deep-hidden dna

a blueprint carrying the hope for a harvest

of compassion and truth,

comradeship and care,

along with glorious defiant acts

of justice and grace.

Gospel-teller John,

in common with those who wrote before him,

calls his readers to emulate his hero

by joining his company of disciples.

A metaphor enthusiast of the highest order,

he writes of Jesus as a vine

into which the follower has been grafted.

The disciple is expected to be fruitful,

he assures us,

and identifies the pruning shears

as an essential means

by which that fruit is produced.


In another part of his story

Jesus appears as a lonely grain of wheat;

a seed that, to be made fruitful,

must be transformed so completely

and painfully, that its planting / burial

is described as death.

Returning to the subject of discipleship,

he insists that this loss of life

characterizes the process by which

his followers are to bear their own fruit.

Ouch, again.

These are, of course, mere metaphors.

and modern-day disciples have no need

to take them literally.

They are, however,

expected to take them seriously

and produce the multi-coloured fruits of love.

© Ken Rookes 2012

Friday, March 16, 2012

Is John 3:16 really the gospel in a nutshell???

"Some Christians have called John 3:16 “the Gospel in a nutshell,” but John 3:16 is not enough to form a fully mature Christian life. For a touchstone verse, I would look instead to passages in the Hebrew Bible such as Micah 6:8, which has been called a “summary of the prophets.”  It says, “God has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does God require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”  Or, I would look to passage in the Gospels such as Jesus’ own summary that all the law and the prophets hang on the two Greatest Commandments to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength” and to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:28-31).
In our modern day wilderness we can lift up Micah 6:8 and the two Greatest Commandments as a source of healing.  May these slogans never become for us an idol because it not enough to believe with our lips that salvation comes from doing justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly with God — and from loving God and neighbor.  We must live in such a manner everyday.  May we learn to love the world in this way — as God so loves the world."

What are you going to do about it?

 In an article in the Times Literary Supplement (February 24, 2006), the British Jewish novelist and playwright Gabriel Josipovici (b. 1940) argues that, much to our frustration, the Bible leaves many questions unanswered. As "pure narrative," he says, the Bible favors brutal realism about our human condition over superficial consolation or theological explanations: "It does so," writes Josipovici, "because it recognizes that in the end the only thing that can truly heal and console us is not the voice of consolation but the voice of reality. That is the way the world is, it says, neither fair nor equitable. What are you going to do about it? How are you going to live so as to be contented and fulfilled?"

The best way ...

"The best way to know God
is to love many things."
Vincent Van Gogh

Monday, March 12, 2012

The medium is the message

The medium we call light

has many shapes.

From the muted glowing lamps

and flaming torches

that illuminated the dark hours

of centuries long past

to the LCD screens that occupy

our walls and desks

and inhabit our pockets in the present age.

Light, so long cosseted and valued

as the first defence against fear and evil,

has become the plaything

of the distracted and the self-obsessed.

Dancing with inconsequentiality,

light’s frivolous tweetings

declare the hollowness of contemporary culture

and the victory of fashion.

The medium is the message*.

We do well to recall

the pre-technological power of light,

the dim flickering flame

shining alone to defy the encroaching dark

and to define the limits

of greed and cruelty.

We remember, too, one who stepped boldly

into the midst of darkness to be light;

whose speakings and touchings,

and groanings and dyings,

enfleshed a word of grace,

such that those who looked upon him,

and the ones who heard his stories,

would see that light,

comprehend its message,

and be captured by it.

* Marshall McLuhan

© Ken Rookes 2012

Monday, March 5, 2012

Cleansing the temple

Most Paintings of teh scene of Jesus cleansing the temple are mild and do not reflect the violence in the text. But the text is clear. Jesus' actions ares violent and pre-meditated and purposeful.
Jesus Cleansing the Temple, Jeffrey Weston.
Jesus Cleansing the Temple, Jeffrey Weston

The money changers

A stark warning

 I read the cleansing of the temple as a stark warning against any and every false sense of security. Misplaced allegiances, religious presumption, pathetic excuses, smug self-satisfaction, spiritual complacency, nationalist zeal, political idolatry, and economic greed in the name of God are only some of the tables that Jesus would overturn in his own day and in ours. Church is more than a place to enjoy a night of bingo or to reinforce my many prejudices and illusions.

Driving out

The bad religion dealers

are gathering their stock,

investing in security

and trusting key and lock.

The bad religion traders

conspire in desperation

they’re making plans to overcome,

correct the situation.

They know the Teacher’s coming

they’ve felt the voice and whip.

Their pleasant life is overturned;

he’s shooting from the hip.

The scattered coins lie gleaming

strewn rudely on the floor;

while safe assumption’s ripped away,

sweet comfort’s out the door.

Table legs point to the sky

the sheep, they are departing;

ignoring indignation’s cries,

the Teacher is just starting.

The bad religion brokers

are exiting the temple;

they’ve seen the walls, the fractured stones,

they disregard the people.

The Teacher sees the kingdom,

there’s love behind his rage;

he shouts life’s possibilities;

the dove has left its cage.

The bad religion vendors

dealing life diminished,

sad and anxious, cheerless, mean; their

fearful trade is finished

The walnut, it is cracked now,

the old religion’s broken;

barriers are thrown aside, the

roads to life are open.

© Ken Rookes 2012

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; ...