Tuesday, July 31, 2012

We can make peace Work

During the Olympics, we put aside differences and while still competing against each other, it is all about being the best we can be. Why do we stop that? I believe that if the Olympics can continue to inspire the world and so many millions of people, then we are capable of carrying these experiences on into the lives of all people in every country. Little, big, rich, poor, we are capable of loving and helping each other We are capable of compassion and turning aside from what does not compliment these ideals. To me the Olympics demonstrate that we are capable of living together in peace, harmony, love and compassion. So I still have hope for us. I still believe that despite what we hear all the time on the news, we can be better people. In the news, “it leads if it bleeds.” Well, peace doesn’t bleed and we don’t hear enough about the wonderful people who live, struggle and love others more than they love themselves. So my heart and mind are with the athletes from every fantastic country on this fantastic planet. We can make peace work.

Children of the same God

The Olympics is a truly wonderful time. It is one time, every two years, where people from every inch of the globe come together to compete in various athletic events. There is no politics, no Realpolitik, no "Great Game" of nations and empires; there are only running tracks, and swimming pools, and javelins, and batons. During these games, we can all come together and see the truth of who we are: people. Yes, we have different skin tones, different languages, different cultural practices, but in the end, we are all people, children of the same God.

Read more: http://www.beliefnet.com/Entertainment/2012-Olympics/Galleries/16-Days-of-Peace-NEW.aspx?p=9#ixzz22ArCv9bY

Olympics as a model for peace

I wonder, given the inter-religious strife which blights our world, if we could use the Olympic model for religious disputes? What if the world gathered its champions of theology and allowed them to compete in areas such as oration, history, narration, and yes, even miracles? What if we saved our religious frustrations for these Theological Games instead of participating in the perennial violence, hatred, and bickering which overwhelm our lives and conscious today?

Read more: http://www.beliefnet.com/Entertainment/2012-Olympics/Galleries/16-Days-of-Peace-NEW.aspx?p=3#ixzz22Aqd9D2C

A space for spirituality

In the multi-religious temple that is the Olympic village, a Catholic priest, an Anglican reverend and a practicing Muslim experience a religious function together

Christofer Jamison an athletic sixty year old cleric celebrates the first part. Susan Blackall, an elderly female priest and Yussef, 40, a soldier in uniform follow him in a sort of relay of faith.

Looking at them holding hands in the little prayer room of the Olympic media village, they seem like three old neo-catechumenal friends: then when you get closer and you realise one of the is a Catholic monsignor, another is an Anglican reverend and a practicing Muslim who are experiencing a religious function together.

This is the miracle of the Olympics, thanks to which all religions get to stand up on the podium: Anglicans, Catholics, Muslims, Jews and Baptists alike. 

Everyone catches the Olympic spirit, even on the pulpit of prayers. Priests, rabbis, imams and reverends unite and work side by side in the Multi-Faith Room, a temple with rooms for the five main faiths.

There is a sign reading "All are welcome" at the entrance of a little room situated close to the grounds where athletes will be competing but in a corner away from all the noise and glitz of the Games. The walls of this silent room are painted white and there are no religious symbols around. On the table are copies of the sacred scriptures of the various religions which give away the spirit of the initiative.

The Olympics: a parade of Life

Perhaps in no other way is Life Force so visible to us than in sports, especially the Olympics. When we’re watching or participating in a sporting event of a local nature, we have a narrower view of Life Force flowing through individuals within a certain team, or event, or sport in places familiar to us.
When it comes to the Olympics, however, we see the spectacle of the diversity of the world and Life Force, Source Energy, Itself, in it’s myriad splendor in events, in individuals, across nations and encompassing – The World.
As these individuals “compete”, we thrill to their achievements whether they are “our” team or not. Somehow the Olympics makes us fans of Life, and we can cheer, root for, and appreciate every single one of them as our own, which they are.

Certainly a spiritual take on the olympics

Thankyou to Michael Leunig of the age for his deep insight once again.

The Olympics of Kindness

I wish there were more made of this sort of thing at the olympics.
"The 1992 Olympics are now history, but while they were in progress a few months back, we remembered the story of Henry Pearce of Australia, who was competing in the single scull rowing event at the 1928 Olympics. He was leading when a duck and her string of ducklings came into view up ahead. They were on a collision course and Pearce reckoned that his scull would cut the string in two and sink a few ducklings in the process, so he pulled in his oars. When the ducks passed, Pearce again bent his back to the task. There’s a happy ending to the story. Pearce won. Usually, acts of sportsmanship result in defeat. Remember Leo Durocher’s pronouncement, “Nice guys finish last”? It happened a couple of years ago in the marathon tandem kayak racing event at the world championships in Copenhagen. Danish paddlers were leading when their rudder was damaged in a portage. British paddlers, who were in second place, stopped to help the Danes fix it. The Danes went on to defeat the British by one second in an event that lasted nearly three hours. But there’s a happy ending to this story too. According to The Wall Street Journal, the British kayakers won what many people regard as the highest honor in sports. They became the winner of the Pierre de Coubertin International Fair Play Trophy. The trophy is named for the founder of the modern Olympic Games, and it has been awarded annually for the past 28 years to people in sports who have demonstrated nobility of spirit. It is big news in Europe, but it has not been given much recognition in the United States. In the past, the trophy has gone to a Hungarian tennis player who pleaded with officials to give his opponent more time to recover from a cramp, and to a high school basketball coach who forfeited the Georgia (US) state championship after he found out that one of his players was scholastically ineligible. The first trophy went to an Italian bobsledder named Eugenio Monti for a gesture that exhibited a touch of class. In the two-man bobsled event at the 1964 Innsbruck Olympics, Monti was the leader after his final run. The only one given a chance to beat him was Tony Nash of Great Britain. As Nash and his teammate got ready for their final run, they discovered that a critical bolt on their sled had snapped at the last moment. Monti was informed of the problem and immediately took the corresponding bolt from his own sled and sent it up to Nash. Nash fixed his sled, came hurtling down the course to set a record and won the gold medal."

I am the bread of life

I am the bread,
the bread of living;
come to me.
I have God’s word for you,
food for your heart.
It is a word of joy and of freedom,
surprising in generosity,
intense and glowing.
It tells of peace in the midst of turbulent times,
defiant love in the midst of fear,
hope, when darkness abounds.
This is the word that will answer your hunger,
and confound  your emptiness.
I am the bread of life;
in me the journey begins and ends
and finds its shape.
In me you will discover yourself;
you will also find true community
and the friendship of God.
Sing, rejoice, dance and weep:
I am the bread:
the bread of living;
come to me.

Ken Rookes

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

walking on water coloring

a cruel fantasy

These are two of the most significant stories of our Christian heritage and deserve to be handled with integrity and sensitivity. For many who are sensitive to world poverty and disaster the images of multiplying food or walking on water are painfully unreal, almost a cruel fantasy. It does not happen. Whether people believe it nevertheless happened once will depend on their philosophical and christological presuppositions. Nothing indicates that the gospel writers thought the events did not occur. A slavish commitment to taking everything the writers say as gospel and yet also acknowledging the problems has led some to imagine that the gospel writers were not really reporting a miracle, but, for eyes that can see, really only a large shared lunch. Our integrity suffers when we try to explain away the text like that, however profound our intentions.

Monday, July 23, 2012

In the spring of the year

 King David has chosen to stay home;
and who could blame him.
He has too long been a man of war,
sleeping rough with his men, out in the hills;
others could fight this battle.
His trusted general would do the job.
There are some tasks, however,
that he will do himself.
Like the woman,
beautiful in her nakedness,
recklessly taking her bath on the roof.
He made his enquiries, discovered her name
and issued the royal invitation.
She was not likely to refuse.

The bed was soft,
the woman, softer.

He told his soul
that he had chosen love over war;
and had almost convinced himself
that it was a righteous choice
when her inconvenient message came.
Proving more loyal than his monarch,
the cuckolded husband frustrates
the attempted cover-up;
receiving, as his reward, the honour
of a hero’s death.
It is all about power.
David had too long been a man of war,
sleeping rough with his men, out in the hills.
It was in the spring of the year.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A comment on the Olympics

Credit to michael leunig in the age today.

Thirsting for goodness

Another morning and I wake with thirst for the goodness I do not have.  I walk out to the pond and all the way God has given us such beautiful lessons.  Oh Lord, I was never a quick scholar but sulked and hunched over my books past the hour and the bell; grant me, in your mercy, a little more time. Love for the earth and love for you are having such a long conversation in my heart.  Who knows what will finally happen or where I will be sent, yet already I have given a great many things away, expecting to be told to pack nothing, except the prayers which, with this thirst, I am slowly learning.
-Mary OliverThirst

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Break down the dividing walls

The separation wall in Israel is a great example of oppression and fear, and the graffiti that is sprayed upon it reflects the words of Paul in refusing to bow down to that oppression, but instead showing Hope.

Monday, July 16, 2012

the curtains have to come down!

 Some curtains have to come down because if we leave them up we will lose our souls, no matter how many church customers we gain! The church of Jesus Christ simply must rip some curtains from top to bottom and dump them in the garbage. So "Jesus cried again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit. And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom" (Mt. 27:50-51).
Not only curtains but walls came tumbling down that day when Jesus cried with a loud voice. The wails of anger, the walls of hostility, the "I'm-better-than-you walls," the "I'm a chosen one and you are not walls," the "I'm a male one and you are not walls," and the "I am a clergy one and you are not wails.

something there is that doesn't love a wall

For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. Eph 2: 14
"Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun,
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast."

 "Something there is that doesn't love a wall," wrote the great American poet Robert Frost. We might say, rather, someone there is who doesn't love a wall, and that someone is Jesus Christ himself, the one who came to break down the dividing walls of our world. It is up to us to continue that work; to break down those walls wherever we see them and to be careful lest we contribute to building or even maintaining them. We need to examine our lives and our hearts to find those invisible but very real barriers that we can so easily erect between ourselves and our fellow human beings.


The attempted domestication of God

"I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel  from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent and a tabernacle."
2 Samuel 7:6

When you are a king,
well practised in raising taxes,
commanding armies
and building palaces,
life can be a bit too good.
Striving to justify his enjoyment
of the comfortable life,
(while the poor still go hungry
and the widows and the orphans
make the best of their lot),
David decides to co-opt the Lord
to ease his guilt
by building God a temple;
with fine gold vessels, plush cushions,
carved cedar beams,
and ornate fittings.
An impressive house for God
would make the king's grand domicile
less offensive to the dignity
of God's people.
God, however,
politely declines the offer,
preferring to dwell in a tent.

Rev Ken Rookes

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Dancing in Christ

Dancing, I suggest to you tonight, is therefore a potent symbol of the gospel covenant as we experience it in our worship. It can become, for us, the double-performance of both human prayer and divine address. On the one hand, the Dance can expresses our deep desire and longing to be free of conflict and grief and sorrow and oppression. ... One can also see something of that spirit in the dance scene from The Matrix Reloaded, when the whole of the people of the city of Zion dance out their longing for salvation from the machines that are coming to destroy them. On the other hand, the Dance can become an icon or oracle of God for us, a material and fleshly way by which God calls us to turn, in repentance, to accept with empty hands God’s gracious offer of mercy, forgiveness, and healing. In the image and experience of the dance, then, God shows us a profound mystery. The mystery that theologians call Christ, or the Paschal Mystery. In Christ the man, you see, all the pains and griefs and longing of human beings are lived out in a life of total prayer, a prayer offered to God as one who hears, and loves, and saves. Yet, in Christ, we also learn also that the griefs and longings of human beings belong to God first of all. For Christ is God amongst us, living our griefs and dying our deaths, that we might also die to our fears and our sins, and be reborn to a new kind of live altogether. Christ, in his Spirit, continues to live amongst us in the church, living our prayer and praying our life until earth and heaven are reconciled, and all are finally free as Christ is free.

Monday, July 9, 2012

a story of exploitation

The party appears typical for the time. The women are in an adjoining room. This is a men’s party. That is why Salome must go there to consult her mother. Dancing girls were often prostitutes. The promise to give away half his kingdom is the stuff of legendary stories of this kind (see Esther 5:3,6; 7:2). It also serves to expose fickleness. It is a terrible story, not just for its gory ending, but also for the machinations of power and the structures of injustice it displays. It is a sad irony that preachers have sometimes focussed on women’s wiles as its ‘message’. It should rather be seen as a story of exploitation - of women, of citizens and slaves; and as a story about silencing the cry for justice. Notice that Herod feared and is fascinated by John. John is not the last prophet whom leaders have reduced to an item of intellectual fascination, nor the last preacher. Ideas are fun.
This bizarre story, lifted from the ‘popular press of the day’ or its Galilean equivalent, casts a shadow over what is to come. Fickle, exploitative political powers will perform another convenient execution, reflecting arbitrary individual choice and reflecting structures of injustice. Mark’s readers may have made the connection between themselves and Herod’s wondering: can it be that someone so callously executed comes to life again? Is the risen Jesus to be seen where such powers are confronted anew, whether within us as individuals or among us in our society? Or does the entertainment drown out the voices?



The Apparition
More than a little spooky methinks
Gustave Moreau

Half a kingdom

In this sad, sordid
and anything but edifying story
a lusting, leering and utterly laughable
monarch makes himself a fool
for the sake of his drunken urges.
Half a kingdom, ha!
he never had a realm of his own to give away
save that which his Roman overlords
allowed him to administer. He is smitten
by the no doubt charms of his dancing
stepdaughter, (in fact the daughter
of the niece that he has acquired as a wife,
but that is too complicated by another half!)
As the story goes, the pathetic king
paints himself into the naked corner
that will become a pitiful but convenient
excuse for murder.
The tale might elicit much ribald jesting
were it being told anywhere else
other than the holy gospel scriptures;
but here it stands as a solemn remembrance
of human weakness;
of overheated sexuality, power and abuse,
of masculine wretchedness
and of feminine duplicity and intrigue.
And, of course, the need for us all
to find deliverance.

© Ken Rookes

Saturday, July 7, 2012

counter-cultural, Jesus?

But this is all very counter-cultural.
I feel sure that vulnerability, weakness and dependency, and the very idea of putting someone else life before our own.
these things are not particularly welcome in our society and are certainly not instinctive for us.
Our society, as was the case in Jesus' times, is very self-centered. Just look at our nations attitude to asylum seekers ....
Or to climate change. We would much rather keep our own lifestyle than surrender some of it in order  to give the future generations a sustainable way of life.
What Jesus was trying to sell was radical unselfishness and it always was a hard sell. Arguably, we in the church still find it hard to take. We, the followers of Jesus, still struggle to live out the message of the sermon on the mount. ...

Perhaps this is why, as we look at our situation in the church today, we should take heart from the encounter with Jesus that we have in our gospel reading today. A reading that perhaps at once challenges us about how comfortable our Christianity has become; How we are perhaps just a little too like the people of Jesus’ home town who thought they were familiar with him, but their very familiarity made them unable to hear his confronting gospel of vulnerability and selflessness. Then, this same reading perhaps tells us of the simplicity and vulnerability of Discipleship. All it takes is one cloak, some sandals and a stick, and the willingness to depend upon the hospitality and grace of the stranger.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Discipleship outfitters

DESCRIPTION: Shop for disciples, customer at counter, storekeeper reading pricetag CAPTION: THAT'LL BE THREE BLESSINGS AND ONE PROPHECY PLEASE


The work of Jesus is to continue ...

The work of Jesus is to continue, and for that purpose the church is called and sent.  For that work Jesus grants the word and the power that characterized his own ministry.  The church is to go trusting this to be true, never contradicting that trust with the excess baggage of security and wealth that offer the world the image of unbelief.  There will be rejection and refusal to listen, to be sure, but there will also be those who will welcome both the ministry and the minister.
Fred Craddock

W.H Auden He is the way

He is the Way.
Follow Him through the Land of Unlikeness;
You will see rare beasts, and have unique adventures.
He is the Truth.
Seek Him in the Kingdom of Anxiety;
You will come to a great city that has expected your return for years.
He is the Life.
Love Him in the World of the Flesh;
And at your marriage all its occasions shall dance for joy.

Monday, July 2, 2012

No-one special

The family lived at Nazareth,
his mother, sisters and brothers;
plus all the in-laws, nieces and nephews.
It was where he had been raised,
where he had been taught the law
with his schoolmates
at the feet of the local Rabbi.
They recalled how he had learned his trade
at his father’s workshop;
and everyone agreed he had done all right
with the mallet and saw.
Most people had liked him well enough;
his life had been quiet, uneventful.
He should have taken a wife, by now;
and more than one of the village girls
had eyed him off. And then,
without any apparent reason,
he had simply left town
to set up home in Capernaum.
What was he running from?
No-one had any answers,
and no sign of scandal had ever turned up.
Until now.
The reports from surrounding towns
of a miracle-working teacher
had not struck anyone as that unusual.
They were intrigued, and a little curious,
but there must have been thousands of men
by the same name, and it took a while
for them to realise that he was theirs.
He’d arrived back home affecting the teacher,
pretending to knowledge and understanding
way beyond his village-school education.
He had the gall to turn up at the synagogue
to regale his captive audience
with his feigned wisdom and insight.
They had to concede that he had spoken quite well,
but that was beside the point.
He might convince the uninformed
in any of a hundred other towns across Galilee,
but he wasn’t going to fool them.
They knew he was nobody special,
just like themselves, so they told him to go.

© 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; ...