Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The rich fool image


The Rich fool

A great painting exploration of the parable. Look up the Website to see closeups and an explanation of the parable. http://www.rejesus.co.uk/site/module/jim_janknegts_rich_fool/

The Nobel peace prize

One morning in 1888,  Alfred Nobel was quite surprised to read his own obituary in a French newspaper.  Obviously, it was a journalistic mistake.  One of his brothers had died, and a careless reporter had used a prewritten obituary of the wrong man. But as he read, Nobel was shocked and deeply disturbed to learn what the world really thought of him.  He was seen simply as the dynamite king, the merchant of death, who had amassed a great fortune out of explosives.  Nobel had hoped his inventions would be useful to people and to nations. At that moment, Alfred Nobel resolved to show the world the true purpose of his life.  He revised his will so that his fortune would be dedicated to the recognition of great creative achievements  with the highest award going to those who had done the most for world peace.  Today, we all associate him with the Nobel Peace Prize.

Building bigger barns

Building bigger barns

Dwelling in the frantic phoniness
that fills the weeks
between the calling of the election
and the voting,
we are confronted by the various parties’ priorities
for building bigger barns.
We shall gather to ourselves
and lock away for the fearful future
those things that make us rich,
that we value above all else.
We shall erect a barn for the borders
that must be desperately protected
from people who voyage in boats;
poor, fearful, and as wretched as the vessels
to which they have entrusted their lives and their hopes.
Wealth shall be gathered into silos
and defended against the ravages of responsibility
that might see it paying for the big clean-up
that everybody knows will have to come. One day.
There shall be a separate, sheltered barn
for leaders afraid of making decisions
that might prove to be unpopular,
lest they no longer enjoy the favour of the people.
This is democracy, and it has its own barn,
galvanized and gleaming in the sun.
There is also a barn, full and overbursting
with responsible economic policies,
that all of our leaders are required to visit regularly,
to establish their correct credentials,
or else we will not place a number low enough
 in the boxes beside their names.
They say that there is a barn, somewhere,
that holds the nation’s store of compassion, truth and justice.
It is apparently a small barn
and there are no proposals to build a larger one;
besides, its GPS coordinates are believed to have been mislaid.

© Ken Rookes


Nearly seven decades ago
a cloud hung horrible
before finally distributing Hiroshima’s toxic dust,
Nagasaki’s too,
between the four winds;
who dutifully dispersed it among the planet’s oceans,
forests and deserts and cities.
Violence is not so easily eliminated,
its half-life is long;
the ghost-cloud of cruelty lingers
and expands with each season of corruption and war.

The ghost-cloud continues its cold journey
drawing earth’s violent excesses
and storing them in cavernous shelves:
the smoke from death ovens,
the cries of the tortured,
the wails of women brutalised,
the tears of children abused,
the scandal of holy wars and crusades,
the shame of detention centres and politics.
The ghost-cloud feeds upon misery.
Gloating, it mocks good people,
and gives succour to the powers of darkness.

Only defiant prayings,
Yearnings, weepings and seekings
seem to diminish the cloud’s shadow.
These, along with occasional acts of kindness,
grace and peace,
ascend to erode the cloud at its edges,
and to bring hope.

© Ken Rookes 2013

Friday, July 26, 2013

God is like the mum or dad who really cares... who is holy and makes you feel holy.

"...It is a kind of secular theology in the sense that the argument is not from the great biblical tradition, citing the epics or the law. Instead it stands in the tradition of sages who employ the everyday to do theology, also rooted in biblical tradition. We should not imagine that Jesus played the one off against the other. Clearly his theology is informed by the great tradition, but it is also grounded in perceptions about human life and human relationships. The tradition has a way of being hijacked by the articulate and educated, and then employed in ways which reflect their agenda. That agenda is usually about holding onto power and privilege and creates a theology of God in those terms: the most powerful and therefore the most privileged. That easily becomes the basis for hierarchical control.
Instead, Jesus democratises the basis for doing theology, locating it in the human relations which we all know and experience, and where we all have some basic insight and understanding, whether we can articulate it in abstract or not. Do we know what it is like to love and be loved? Then we are well on the way to a sound theology. What is more, it is a sound basis for critical theology where you can then see through ‘father’ and ‘king’ or ‘kingdom’ to the qualities they are meant to represent and which they often stifle. God is not a ‘father’ and a ‘king’. God is not a male. God is not a claimer of privilege. God is like the mum or dad who really cares (and confronts us with reality), who is holy and makes you feel holy. So prayer is an activity of intimacy and awe and thus a model for all relationships; it is the language of the kingdom. It brings the gift of the Spirit."

Monday, July 22, 2013


You tell your kids as they grow older;
anytime, it does not matter.
We do not measure inconvenience,
nor will we mention it again.
We will leave our bed and we will come,
if that is what is needed,
to ensure that you will arrive safely home.
It is unthinkable that we should refuse.
Unthinkable, in the story Jesus told,
that a friend should decline
to embrace a minor inconvenience
for the sake of a simple request,
to fulfil the claims of hospitality
and to avoid shame.
Thus is delivered
bread for a hungry traveller.
Unthinkable that the Creator-Spirit God
should be too busy to listen,
should fail to love,
or should withhold
God’s Spirit-presence.

© Ken Rookes 2013

The door will be opened

God’s presence with humankind
is imaged in the New Testament
by the gift of the Holy Spirit
who gently whispers deep into our dreamings
and speaks into our silences.
Not one will be left alone,
no-one will be without the Spirit’s
companionship as they journey
towards the kingdom.
Let your eyes be opened
to see where the Spirit is at work,
renewing a struggling creation.
Tune your ears to the soft voice
calling all creatures into relationships
of harmony and cooperation.
Let your hearts be opened
to all the Spirit-possibilities
of grace and reconciliation.
Every day, with each breath and heartbeat,
may your soul quicken and your mind take notice
of wondrous presence and mystery;
a wind of change, disturbing but generous,
joyfully enlivening our spirits
and those of all who ask,
search and knock.

© Ken Rookes 2013

Come your kingdom

Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread.
And forgive us our sins,
for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us.
And do not bring us to the time of trial." Luke 11:2-4

Great Parent God,
Come, come; come your kingdom.
Come your kingdom.
Come your kingdom glowing light.
Come your kingdom piercing truth.
Come your kingdom outraged cries.
Come your kingdom tears of sorrow.
Come your kingdom gracious tender.
Come your kingdom strong determined.
Come your kingdom dancing hope.
Come your kingdom compassion burning.
Come your kingdom daily-bread justice.
Come your kingdom holding hands.
Come your kingdom good forgiveness.
Come your kingdom aching hearts.
Come your kingdom joy surprising.
Come your kingdom life no limits; ever new.
Come your kingdom dove descending.
Come your kingdom touching, welcome;
Come, come, come your kingdom.
Come your kingdom; come.

© Ken Rookes

Meet the kids: the prophet Hosea introduces his family

G’day, mate.
It has been a long time.
This is the wife, Gomer,
and the kids.
Yeah, she’s always liked bright colours,
haven’t you dear?
I keep telling her that she’s a natural beauty,
that she doesn’t need so much make up,
but she never listens to me.
No, I never thought I’d get married either,
didn’t seem to go with the lifestyle,
but I guess that the Lord had other ideas.
Domestic bliss?
We have our ups and downs.
This one’s our eldest, we call him Coniston*.
His sister, there, her name’s Pathetic Cow,
and the baby; we christened him Refugee.
Yes, I chose the names. Well, no;
it was the Lord, really.
It’s a prophecy thing.
Think about it.
Yeah, we’re all hoping that when they’re older
the message might change
and we can give them new names,
like Mercy, Joy, and Welcome.
I think the Lord would like that, too.

* The Coniston massacre was a series of killings of Aboriginal
people in Central Australia in 1928.

© Ken Rookes 2013

Friday, July 19, 2013

Mary and Martha: Luini

I Love this painting by Luini of Mary and Martha. How smug does Mary look? "No way am i coming into the kitchen Martha. I have this pretty little flower and i'm not going anywhere!"

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Lord's prayer cards

The Lord's prayer translated from Aramaic

(visit the website and hear it spoken as well)
The Prayer To Our Father
(translated into first century Aramaic)
Thou, from whom the breath of life comes,
who fills all realms of sound, light and vibration.

Nethkâdasch schmach
May Your light be experienced in my utmost holiest.

Têtê malkuthach.
Your Heavenly Domain approaches.

Nehwê tzevjânach aikâna d'bwaschmâja af b'arha.
Let Your will come true - in the universe (all that vibrates)
just as on earth (that is material and dense).

Hawvlân lachma d'sûnkanân jaomâna.
Give us wisdom (understanding, assistance) for our daily need,

Waschboklân chaubên wachtahên aikâna
daf chnân schwoken l'chaijabên.

detach the fetters of faults that bind us, (karma)
like we let go the guilt of others.

Wela tachlân l'nesjuna
Let us not be lost in superficial things (materialism, common temptations),

ela patzân min bischa.
but let us be freed from that what keeps us off from our true purpose.

Metol dilachie malkutha wahaila wateschbuchta l'ahlâm almîn.
From You comes the all-working will, the lively strength to act,
the song that beautifies all and renews itself from age to age.

Sealed in trust, faith and truth.
(I confirm with my entire being)


A prayer that asks for change

"Unfortunately for us, we are stuck with the irony that this is a prayer where we are asking God for change.
          After beginning with acknowledging God as the source of all goodness we move on to, “Your Kingdom come.” May the day come when you, loving God, reign over everything and everybody and every place in justice and love and peace. Rather than a specific request, this is an expression of a general longing; a longing for the new and for change. When faced with all that is corrupt and brutalized about the world, we long for the tide of God's goodness to wash over the earth and renew it all. When faced with the atrocities of Bosnia, the hypocrisies of the response to East Timor, the tragedies of abused kids selling their bodies on the streets, the obscenities of injustice, hatred and the abuse of political power, we don't know where to start in our prayers so with deep sighs of longing we capture it all up in our plea for God to come and renew the face of the whole earth. Your kingdom come.
          If you like we are putting ourselves on God's side and at God's disposal. We are aligning ourselves with God's purposes in the world. We are adding ourselves to God's movement for change. And it is in the context of that renewed orientation that we bring the specific requests. These could be summed up as “God give us the sustenance to help us through the change” and “God help us to change and to forgive others.”
          That then is Jesus' basic lesson in prayer. Acknowledge the goodness of the God to whom you pray, then be prepared for God to use you as an agent for change and to be changed yourself."

poem - Lord's prayer

Poem found in a mailing from the Omaha Home for Boys:

You cannot pray the Lord's Prayer and even once say "I."
You cannot pray the Lord's Prayer and even once say "My."
Nor can you pray the Lord's Prayer and not pray for one another,
And when you ask for daily bread, you must include your brother.
For others are included ... in each and every plea,
From the beginning to the end of it, it does not once say "Me." 

The Lord's Prayer and the Talmud

"The Lord's Prayer, like so many more of the precepts and discourses ascribed to Jesus, is borrowed. Dr. Hardwicke, of England, says: "The so-called 'Lord's Prayer' was learned by the Messiah as the 'Kadish' from the Talmud." 

"Our Parent which art in heaven, be gracious to us, O Lord, our God; hallowed be thy name, and let the remembrance of thee be glorified in heaven above and in the earth here below. Let thy kingdom reign over us now and forever. The holy men of old said, Remit and forgive unto all men whatsoever they have done against me. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil thing. For thine is the kingdom, and thou shalt reign in glory for ever and for evermore.""

Only one thing

The one we call the Lord of Life
happened by unexpectedly,
the other day.
Not slow to recognise
his cosmic significance,
we set about making him welcome;
with one of our number
engaging him in light conversation
over a cuppa and some scotch fingers.
The rest of us set about tidying up,
sorting out and clearing away;
making sure the right books
were prominent on our shelves,
and gathering up the gossip mags
to replace them with more worthy
intellectual and philosophical offerings.
Only after turning the wireless
to Radio National,
did we each grab a cup
to join him at the table.
He held out his arms in greeting,
grinned, said he’d been waiting.
and referred obscurely
to someone called Martha,
whoever she is.
Then he spoke plainly
of mysteries, grace and love;
and we all listened.

© Ken Rookes 2013

Sit quietly, Mary.

Sit quietly, Mary,
and try to become invisible
so that your sister,
in all her busy-ness,
might not notice you among
the men.

But no;
you just can't help yourself.
Listening to the voice of your Lord
with wonder and delight,
your eyes seem to reflect
more light than the lamps offer.

Your absence
from the kitchen
has long been noted.
Now you have been seen,
and you will be called to account
for your indolence.

In resignation, you rise to leave,
but the Master says, "Stay!"
"This is the best thing."
Your heart sings as again you sit
and listen. And your eyes
shine once more.

© Ken Rookes

The land trembles

The land trembles

The land still trembles
under terrible and insatiable burdens:
desperate urges to acquire and to accumulate
the wealth that we worship
and in which we have placed our trust.
The poor are still bought for a few pieces of silver
and the needy for a pair of sandals.
Today it happens in an overseas factory
or sweatshop for designer jeans or sports shoes;
whilst we anxiously flock to the purveyors
of all things shiny and new, lest we miss out.
Nothing ever changes
as the words of Amos the prophet
are either sanitized or avoided.
For the sake of economic and political expediency
we close our eyes and stop our ears.
We pretend that all is well with God’s world,
as we gather to ourselves
leaders with words that caress and reassure,
declaring that, in his/her benevolence,
God wants for God’s pious and faithful flock
the benefits and security of comfortable wealth,
along with all its trappings.
So it is that we self-righteously demand
cuts to our taxation, limits to our welfare
and strength to our borders;
lest the wretched, the unworthy
and the undeserving should receive anything
to which they are patently not entitled.

© Ken Rookes

Thursday, July 11, 2013

It would have to be a Muslim

It would have to be a Muslim.
The one who nobody in the audience liked,
or had any time for.
The one we are suspicious of,
uncertain of how she/he might fit in.
Dressed strangely,
living according to another set of rules;
whose motivations we question.
Praying in different ways,
refusing to eat our foods;
a sometimes guest
who ignores the polite conventions
we have so carefully constructed
over these past centuries.
It would have to be a Muslim,
who, when Jesus tells his story today,
about the one who took a chance
and stopped to help the wounded man,
is made into the neighbour-hero.
The Good Muslim,
who causes us all to gasp,
as she/he is offered
as love’s shining exemplar.

© Ken Rookes 2013

Good Samaritan Rap


One day there came to Jesus a dude who knew the law,
who tried to trick him; "Man," he said, "You know the score!
I want to find my life in God, tell me what to do!"
Jesus said, "You've read the Scriptures, so you should know what is true;
so tell me what they say!" The man opened up his mouth
and said, "Love your God and love your neighbour as yourself."
"You've got it right," said Jesus: "Now you've really made the scene!"
"But who, then, is my neighbour?" said the man. "What does it mean?"

He said, "You gotta love your neighbour!"
Yeah, but tell us what that means.                     (Twice)

So Jesus told a story, he said, "Once upon a time
a man was going down the road from big Jerusal-ime
to Jericho; sun was shining, he was feeling good,
'til some robbers leapt out of the trees and hit him with some wood.
They took his clothes and money, left him lying in the sun,
all a-bleeding and a bruis-ed, soon his life would all be gone.
He wondered as he lay there whether anyone would come
and render him assistance, yeah, he sure did hope for some.

"Well it happened that a holy man was headed down that way,
but when he say the wounded man, he didn't pause or stay -
he crossed the road and walked on by upon the other side;
he didn't seem to care whether the poor man lived or died.
Another man, a Levite, well respected in the town
came down the road and saw the man and gave a little frown.
He thought, 'I'd like to stop and help, but time I can't afford.'
And quickly moved a few steps to the far side of the road.

"Well the people of Samaria were like fans of Collingwood
all the other people thought that they were really not much good.
So when one came on down the road the battered man thought, 'No,
there's not much chance that he will stop.' But little did he know!
The Samaritan felt sorry, he bandaged up the man,
he put him on his donkey, yeah, he gave him a real hand.
He took him to a pub and gave some money to the Landlord.
'Look after him,' he said. 'I'll pay you back, I give my word'"

Then Jesus asked the teacher of the law, "What would you say;
which man acted like a neighbour to the injured man that day?"
He said, "The man who stopped to help, the Samaritan by name."
"That's right!" said Jesus, "He's the one; now go and do the same!"

You know you gotta be a neighbour
Yeah, 'cause that’s what it all means.                (Three times)

© Ken Rookes

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; ...