Thursday, September 27, 2012



We need enemies.

People we can fear and mistrust.

And hate. Against whom we can unite

our efforts and our souls.

Look, can you see them;

those ones, over there, they don’t

share our values at all. They threaten the way of life

that God has given us and that our comfort has blessed.

They are dangerous.

Yes them;

Let us take up our arms,

our pens and our umbrage

and demand that they are suitably confronted,

confounded and called to account.

Feel the pleasing warmth of our cultivated outrage;

enjoy the convenience of enemies.

Even Jesus had enemies,

People who opposed his work,

ones against whom he felt he had to stand;

but perhaps fewer than we might have thought.

Passing up the opportunity of rallying his supporters

and joining in their fears,

he is said to have once declared

that “whoever is not against us

is for us.”

No wonder he was such a failure.

© Ken Rookes 2012

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Stumbling blocks

My hand, my foot, my eye;
yes, from time to time
and on occasions, each of these
causes me to stumble.
Other parts too, including some
which my innate sense of decorum
precludes me mentioning.
My brain is the worst,
harbouring, as it does,
my quest for comfort,
my desire for a quiet life,
and those thoughts
which might properly be described
as lustful.
Shall I cut them off, or tear them out,
as the gospel writers suggest?
But I no longer believe in hell,
and my brain might be considered
a somewhat essential organ;
and it appears that my selfish desires
are as much a part of my core being
as any proclivities towards goodness,
love and generosity.
This latter group of worthy aspects
are, I like to think, fruits
of a discipleship choice I have made
to follow one who is truth.
These qualities I try to cultivate;
the others, I strive to keep in check.
Everything else is grace.

© Ken Rookes 2012

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

suffer the little children

the kid understands

let the little children come to me

children are something like communion

If we are to take seriously what Jesus is saying here, these children are to us something like what the bread and wine is to us at communion — signs of the life of God — signs which we can receive unworthily and mindlessly, or in which we can recognise the fragile presence of God and receive as both a gift and a call to totally reorient our lives. Perhaps the main difference is that, unlike the bread and wine, the children will detect how we regard them and respond in ways that reveal the truth. You can’t fake it with children. They pick up very quickly who loves them and treats them with joy and respect, and who sentimentalises them and patronises them in a parody of care, and who simply pushes them aside. When Jesus wanted to illustrate his point with a child, there was one close at hand and only to happy to hop onto his lap. Kids were always coming to Jesus, despite the best efforts of adults who thought them too unimportant. The kids knew that Jesus took them seriously and that they were safe with him. That’s all he’s asking of us. Simple request.  Probably a lifetime project to live it out. But the realm of God is like that!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Who will be the greatest?

Every four years
the Christians put aside
their differences to gather
at the Discipleship Olympics.
There they contend with each other
to determine who is the greatest.
The rivalry is fierce,
with acolytes punishing their bodies
and exercising their minds for many years
even to prove worthy of selection.
After days of contesting, measuring,
personal-best scores, fingernail finishes
and acts of heroism and sacrifice;
after countless stories of love,
devotion, triumph over adversity,
courage, heartache and disappointment,
winners are declared.
Flagpoles are readied, anthems are cued
and the victorious ones are called
to stand behind the podium
and await the invitation to ascend.
Before they can do so,
a group of children,
playful, unkempt and disorderly,
is herded before them.
The medals are presented
to the children, who play with them,
laugh, and take turns
in having their pictures taken.

© Ken Rookes 2012

Monday, September 10, 2012

So also the tongue

So also the tongue
James 3:5-10

The heart is hungry,
the tongue is its servant.
“More, more,” it cries,
even though it has never missed a meal
and knows that the storehouses overflow.
The heart is greedy;
the tongue insists,
“I know what is best
for your well-being.
Trust me, make me your king;
these others are fools.”

The mines thrust deeper
to ravage red earth,
forests are levelled,
while quarries gobble their way
to the horizon and beyond.
The heart is never satisfied.
“More, more!” the tongue shouts
at gargantuan dozers and digging machines;
“Less, less!” the tongue protests against
the people and their taxes.
They are an inconvenience, undeserving;
annoying obstacles to the heart’s
never-ending lusts.
The heart will never have enough,
even as multiple tongues bring
their restless evil workings
to the task.

© Ken Rookes 2012

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Gospel

"It seems to me that it is a minority that ever gets the true and full Gospel. We just keep worshiping Jesus and arguing over the exact right way to do it. The amazing thing is that Jesus never once says, “worship me!”, but he often says, “follow me” (e.g., Matthew 4:19).
Christianity is a lifestyle—a way of being in the world that is simple, non-violent, shared, inclusive, and loving. We made it, however, into a formal established religion, in order to avoid the demanding lifestyle itself. One could then be warlike, greedy, racist, selfish, and vain at the highest levels of the church, and still easily believe that Jesus is “my personal Lord and Savior.” The world has no time for such silliness anymore. The suffering on Earth is too great."

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

the healing of acceptance

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body      
love what it loves.Tell me about despair, 
yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, 
high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, 
harsh and exciting 
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
-Mary Oliver

Definition of ephphatha.

EPHPHATHA - ef'-a-tha, ef-a'-tha (Ephphatha): Aramaic word used by Christ (Mk 7:34), the 'ethpa`al imperative of Aramaic pethach (Hebrew pathach), translated, "Be (thou) opened"; compare Isa 35:5. The Aramaic was the sole popular language of Palestine (Shurer, History of the Jewish People in the Time of Jesus Christ, IIg, 9) and its use shows that we have here the graphic report of an eyewitness, upon whom the dialectic form employed made a deep impression. This and the corresponding act of the touch with the moistened finger is the foundation of a corresponding ceremony in the church’s formula for baptism.

be opened icon


Monday, September 3, 2012

Speech impediment

We have a collective problem
with our hearing, our seeing, too.
There are sounds that we struggle to hear,
sights that our eyes refuse to see.
There are certain frequencies,
cries, groans and wailings,
that auditory senses fail to discern
above our chosen and familiar din.
There are vistas pleasant and reassuring,
scenes of blue skies and gum trees;
with these we make pretty our walls,
convincing ourselves
that cruel and confronting landscapes
in territories beyond our own,
either do not exist
or are none of our concern.
Hear no evil, see no evil;
not my problem.
The denials of sensory perception
are employed to foster
an untroubled existence.
Thus we avert the need
to speak, to act, to confront,
and our voices become forfeit.

In the blurry stories of human origins,
a mythical man
demonstrates the timelessness
of speech impediments.
In feigned innocence, he enquires:
Am I my brother’s keeper?

Jesus, we are told, came
to open the eyes of the blind,
to unstop the ears of the deaf,
and to release the tongues
of those who will not speak.

Pick me, Jesus;
pick me!

© 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; ...