Monday, September 30, 2013

If you had faith as big as a mustard seed . . .

Quite silly, really;
the notion of trees being uprooted
and planted in the sea because of faith.
Wouldn’t do anything for the environment.
The meaning of the teaching, therefore,
is clearly not in the literal;
so it must lie somewhere else.
How much faith does a person need
to successfully negotiate through life?
A mustard seed’s worth? Hardly;
with that amount we’d all be showing-off
and the oceans would be full of wasted metaphors.
No, a lump of faith as little as half a mustard seed,
or a quarter, that will be enough:
probably still too much. God
will do the rest. “Make our faith greater!”
the disciples request. “No need,” says Jesus.
“You’ve already got plenty. Enough
to do great things in my name. Enough
to serve and give and love. Enough
to tread the paths of the kingdom. Enough
to turn the world upside down. Of course,
you might want to get together.”

© Ken Rookes


The great Apostle
wasn’t much good at spin,
nor would he ever have been elected
to the position
had apostleship been subject to
democratic processes.
“Join me in suffering
for the gospel,” he writes
in a policy speech to his young acolyte;
seemingly oblivious to the oxymoron
that many good people see in that
brief invitation.
Yes, folks; that’s what discipleship
can do for you, too!
Out the window with that ‘prosperity’ stuff;
if you want a world of justice,
truth and love,
it looks like we’re in for the hard slog.
Not quite the good news we were expecting;
might as well vote for higher taxes,
while we’re at it.

© Ken Rookes 2013

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

If they do not listen

If they do not listen,
if the warnings go unheeded
the war will not be ended,
the climate goes on changing,
the poor will always languish,
the wealthy will never let go,
the raucous will not be silent,
kings will still raise armies,
and cheats will keep up their long established practice
by moving their headquarters off-shore.
Miners will make their holes ever larger,
generals will keep sending soldiers to their death,
politicians will compromise for the sake of cheap opinion,
the rich will pay less taxes,
the beggars will not go away.
Desperate people will travel once more on boats,
bullies will have their way,
children will be hurt again,
and mothers will weep
while fathers are immobilised by guilt.
If they do not listen,
love will fall into ruin,
truth will be vanquished,
and the memory of hope is lost.

© Ken Rookes 2013

Monday, September 16, 2013

The harvest is past, the summer has ended, and we are not saved.

Jeremiah 8:20
The season for salvation
came and apparently passed
with no-one noticing.
We were distracted,
captivated by the wonder and glory
of the collective reflections in our gazing pool.
There is darkness all around,
still it does not bother us
whilst there is even the palest light; flickering,
yet sufficient to see our own beautiful
but blinkered eyes.
There was, supposedly,
a season for repentance, too;
but for that to be effective there needs to be
an acknowledgement of the reality of the darkness,
and we would rather not know.
Anxiously feigning bravado,
we gather in our harvest
and boast about its yield,
blissfully unaware of its bitter nature.
The summer has ended,
and our time of harvest moves inexorably
to a Narnian winter,
wherein we will whisper the rumours
of Gilead’s springtime promise
with yearning, tears and lamentation.

© 2010 Ken Rookes

O that my head were a spring of water and my eyes a fountain of tears

Jeremiah 9:1
My people turn away
from light’s revealing rays,
seeking shadows.
My people stop their ears
to the cries of the lost, of cast-off wanderers,
of the unworthy and the fearful,
preferring pretty ditties of distraction.
My people build dams to hold back tears,
high walls around their hearts;
they refuse to weep or ache.
The thirsting land groans abandoned,
a salty wilderness where compassion grows limp
and wilts in rising indifference;
a desolate place where justice is found
only by digging deep below dry creek beds.
Truth, falling frail like dew before dawn,
evaporates unvalued and vanishes,
unseen by those who sleep late.
A modern luxury, who can afford it?

O that my head were a spring of water
and my eyes a fountain of tears;
and that grace might flow
like a never-ending stream!

© Ken Rookes

Two masters

Surely Jesus was wrong
with his misconceived diatribes
against wealth and possessions.
He was making some heavy-handed points,
and we all understand
that in the heat of vigorous debate,
one is prone to exaggeration and hyperbole.
It’s not that possessions are wrong, per se;
it’s more that in the wrong hands,
(the self-centred and unenlightened),
the preoccupation with money and wealth
can be something of a distraction.
It doesn’t really apply to us;
we know how to deal with it.
I’m sure that if Jesus was here today
he would recognise the sheer necessity
of wise investments, a solid superannuation plan,
and a dwelling that adequately reflects
the needs of modern living. You and I
would never let such matters determine our priorities,
or intrude into our spiritual lives, would we?
No, I’m sure that Jesus wasn’t referring to us,
and that he was simply, at times,
guilty of a little overstatement.
A lot of times, actually.

© Ken Rookes

Monday, September 9, 2013

Once, when wandering

Once, when wandering
uncertain and without a destination,
an unexpected wind-spirit thing
claimed my attention with a whisper;
a voice that spoke of the fulfilment of divine love
but mostly spoke of home. I followed;
listening, and immersing myself
in the stories of one who found himself truly mortal;
a fellow traveller and child of dust,
like the rest of us.
My journey began anew,
with more meanderings,
an enduring share in uncertainty,
and a goal that continues to shine;
distant but defiant.
In my sometimes hesitant following
I have learned to be at peace with my need for grace.
There are stories,
more murmurings from the travelling man,
that speak of searching and of being found;
and of the surprising wind-spirit thing.
The stories give me courage to wander,
to explore and to be free;
trusting that even when I feel myself lost,
I will be found.

© Ken Rookes 2013

Monday, September 2, 2013

real love always involves risk

Loving your enemy and forgiving those who hate you, for instance, will not necessarily make you many friends. There will be many, including family, for whom such a way of living will be alien and strange.

When you advocate a love that turns slaves into equals and asylum seekers into people with the same rights as the rest of us, regardless of the cost, you are not going to be admired and applauded. The letters pages of the newspapers and the talk back airwaves will not fill up with voices saying “you can tell they are Christians by their love.” Instead the voices will say that we are failing in our duty to love those closest to us. That we are putting at risk the interests of those for whom we have the greatest responsibility, those closest to us. They’ll say that we are failing to love our country, our families. They’ll say we are a bunch of bleeding hearts that don’t care enough about our children’s welfare. They’ll say we are advocating the destruction of everything our society holds dear, and that such an attitude has more to do with hate than love.

And that’s exactly what Jesus warned us about. He said that if we are not willing to risk being accused of hating our families, then we haven’t got what it takes to follow him. The fact is though, that real love always involves risks. Real love always lies beyond our comfort zones. And a new community founded on risky, socially controversial, deep love is well and truly worth whatever discomfort and disrepute it takes. Jesus has gone that way before us, and as we gather around this table we are reminded that he was broken for it. But we are also reminded that on the other side of the deep waters of disrepute, scandal and death lies the promised land where the new wine of love and mercy and peace is poured. And with the bread and wine of scandalous love, we are nourished for the unpopular journey into the ultimate love.

I went down to the potter' house

Calculated recklessness

There’s a calculated recklessness
to discipleship
they never told you about in Sunday School.
Didn’t mention it much in church, either.
A willing wild abandonment that, if you let it,
might take you anywhere;
everywhere. If you let it.
Across oceans, into sparse deserts,
crowded places, lonely places;
climbings beyond imagining,
and descendings well past our fearing.
Perhaps you will enter into realms of crisis and conflict,
occasional districts of comfort and peace,
and sometime regions of shadow and despair.

There’s a calculated recklessness
to discipleship
that is more likely to lead you into the blessings of poverty
than those of prosperity.
A determined irresponsibility
that may well put you at odds
with respectable lifestyles, polite politics,
and prudent planning.
Not to mention the family.

There’s a calculated recklessness
to discipleship.
At least, that’s what Jesus seems to be saying;
if you can believe him.

© Ken Rookes 2013

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; ...