Tuesday, November 26, 2013


"Although waiting is not having, it is also having. The fact that we wait for something shows that in some way we already possess it. Waiting, anticipates that which is not yet real. That is, if we wait in hope and patience, the power of that for which we wait is already effective within us. Those who wait, in an ultimate sense are not that far from that for which they wait."
Paul Tillich

Advent candle lighting prayer

Candle lighting
In this birth
you will discover
all blessing.
But neglect this birth
and you neglect
all blessing.
Tend only to this birth in you
and you will find there
all goodness and all consolation,
all delight,
all being and all truth. (Meister Eckhart)
(The candle is lit).

Monday, November 25, 2013

If the owner of the house had known

If the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming
The vigilant householder;
an illustration of security,
or, rather, insecurity,
to convince the believer
to be awake and alert.
A warning to be ready
for that uncertain moment
when the Son of Man comes.
No need to stay awake today;
the gates, deadlocks,
screens, alarms, cameras,
and, if required, armed personnel,
will do the job for us
while we sleep on, oblivious.
This image inhabits a changed context,
and is not longer at home;
always a limitation
when we take the stories literally.
No. Not wakefulness;
Living with truth,
courage, generosity and love;
this is the house
into which no robber can break,
the life that no thief can steal.

© Ken Rookes 2013

Be ready, therefore.

There is only one way for a person to be ready,
only one thing that person should be doing
when Jesus comes. One thing
that he, who called himself the Son of Man,
expects of his followers at any time.
He set it forth in plain Aramaic
on more than one occasion, that is,
if the gospels are to be believed
and not merely taken literally.
One thing.
It is the singular mark of discipleship,
the sign that a person has listened,
truly heard, and been shaped by the words,
the actions, and the friendship of the coming one
It is he same thing that directed the course
of the Son of Man’s surprising life;
he who continues to come to his own.
This always-present one
defiantly embraces the costly consequences of his choice.
This one thing makes a person ready
for abundance in living, and fulfilment in dying.
The fumbling and grace-dependent followers
of He who comes,
know that they, too,
must become caught up into the generous
and sometimes painful work of love;
this one thing that declares our readiness
to receive him.

© 2010 Ken Rookes

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

A different sort of King

Here in Colossians is a crucified man wearing a crown of thorns.
King Jesus. The wounded healer. The bloodied reconciler. The one who lays down his life for others. This is Jesus our king, the one who turns all other ideas of kingship inside out.

Here is the humble son of Mary.
The apprentice of his earthly father, Joseph the carpenter.
A village man who become an itinerant preacher and healer.
The fellow who listened to women with an unusual respect in what was a man’s world
Here is a young physician actually touching untouchable lepers.
A blesser of street kids (not the same thing as kissing babies before an election!!)
A dinner guest among the equivalent of bikies and beach bums.
The saviour trusted by prostitutes and tax collectors.
Friend of foreigners and fishermen.
A servant washing the feet of guests.
The wanted man slipping through city streets by night.
A soul in agony, praying  in an Olive grove.
The young rabbi betrayed by a disciple.
Prisoner in kangaroo court, abused by the police guards.
Condemned man, mocked, flogged and spat upon.
A victim carrying his own cross to the Place of the Skull.
The crucified man, speaking forgiveness on his foes.
A corpse hastily buried in a borrowed tomb,
The stranger walking with men on the road to Emmaus.
A host with wounded hands, cooking a fish breakfast for his friends on the shores of Galilee
The everliving One, The Alpha and Omega, separated by a cloud from his disciples, so that he might incognito be with them always.


Christ the King coloring

Just a little bit scary really

The Christian King

"There are perhaps three essential attributes to the Hebrew and Christian concept of Kingship. The first is captured in the name Emmanuel that is used of Jesus, meaning God with us. The true King is one who journeys with his people. He does not sit in a palace and decree the direction of the journey, he journeys with the people. If there is a wilderness to be passed through, he leads the way. If there is a battle to be fought, he is there in the front line. If there is an execution to be faced, he is hanging there among the executed. According to what we heard from the gospel of Luke, it was hanging on a cross among criminals with thorns stuck on his head, journeying all the way in solidarity with the guilty and condemned, that another dying man recognized Jesus for who he was and begged acceptance into his kingdom.

Secondly, the scriptures call Christ King because he is creator. The King is one who brings forth beauty and who gives life to what he has shaped. One who acts to ensure that the world is worth living in, that we means to life and fullness of life are available to all.

Which leads us to the third attribute of true Kingship. The King is the one who brings about justice. The psalms and the prophets repeatedly call for earthly Kings to emulate God's example and be justice makers. Even before Israel chose their first King, God warned them through the prophet Samuel that a King would lord it over them, tax them harshly, and promote inequality and injustice. And that's exactly what most of their Kings did, and what most kings, emperors, presidents and premiers have done to this day. But when we say Christ is King, we offer our allegiance to the one who will not rest until every cup is overflowing, until the pathway to fullness of life is open to every man, woman and child of every race, class and culture."


the hollow crown

"For God's sake, let us sit upon the ground
And tell sad stories of the death of kings;
How some have been deposed; some slain in war,
Some haunted by the ghosts they have deposed;
Some poison'd by their wives: some sleeping kill'd;
All murder'd: for within the hollow crown
That rounds the mortal temples of a king
Keeps Death his court and there the antic sits,
Scoffing his state and grinning at his pomp,
Allowing him a breath, a little scene,
To monarchize, be fear'd and kill with looks,
Infusing him with self and vain conceit,
As if this flesh which walls about our life,
Were brass impregnable, and humour'd thus
Comes at the last and with a little pin
Bores through his castle wall, and farewell king!
Cover your heads and mock not flesh and blood
With solemn reverence: throw away respect,
Tradition, form and ceremonious duty,
For you have but mistook me all this while:
I live with bread like you, feel want,
Taste grief, need friends: subjected thus,
How can you say to me, I am a king?"

Richard II Shakespeare.

Monday, November 18, 2013

He saved others

He saved others;
touched them, blessed them,
warned them, loved them,
heard them, healed them.
He reached out to embrace them,
waited for them,
gave them permission,
wept with them.
He told them stories that lead to life,
laughed at their foibles,
forgave them,
offered them freedom.
He placed among them, children;
invited them to learn,
asked them to listen,
sat with them in silence.
He came into their houses,
entered their lives,
ate bread with them,
shared their wine.
He argued the point with them,
got angry,
taught defiance,
played, prayed,
and walked with them
on the road to the kingdom.
He whispered where God might be found;
pointed towards hope,
made peace,
established love,
and showed them the way.
He saved others;
and felt no need to save himself.

© Ken Rookes 2013

In Paradise

In Paradise
I could never get much excited
by the notion of Paradise / heaven / the hereafter.
It sometimes seems to be a construct of the church,
attached to the teachings of Jesus
and distracting us from his command
to get on with the work of love.
At best, it is a bit-player,
thrust on to the centre-stage, to claim the spotlight.
There it assumes the role
of an all-controlling Master of Ceremonies
through whom ecclesiastical authorities,
popes, priests and everybody in-between,
direct the thinking and the behaviour of the masses.
If you want to get there, as opposed to the other place,
remember; we hold the keys!
It suited, too, the civil authorities
with its message of divinely ordered patience.
No need for revolution,
in Paradise you will receive your reward / recompense
for all the indignities, pains and brutalities
suffered during your earthly sojourn!
In Luke’s story of the passion
the word is placed upon the lips of the cross-suspended Jesus,
as he responds to the justice and compassion of a fellow criminal.
Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.
To die with Jesus;
perhaps this is the proper meaning of Paradise.

© Ken Rookes.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

we plant seeds

" This is what we are about: we plant seeds that one day will grow. We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise. We lay foundations that will need further development. We provide yeast that produces effects beyond our capabilities.
   We cannot do everything and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that. This enables us to do something, and to do it very well. It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for God's grace to enter and do the rest. We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker. We are workers, not master builders, ministers, not messiahs. We are prophets of a future not our own."

-attributed to Oscar Romero 1917-1980

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

When Jesus returns

It doesn’t really matter what we do
in our own finite occupation of planet earth;
so one theory goes.
All the pollution and the global warming
and the depletion of the fishing stocks
and the extinction of the various species;
not our problem.
And all the refugee camps in border regions
and the ragged children on the smoking garbage mountains
and all the repression and the fear
and the greedy corporate exploitation
and all the political lies; about these things
we need have no concern.
Because Jesus is coming back.
Yeah, Jesus is coming back
and he’ll wave his hand,
his magic Holy Spirit hand,
and the new heaven will replace the old,
and the new earth will take over from the old,
and everything will be clean and sparkling
and smell like a pair of shiny new shoes,
fresh out of their box.
Or so one theory goes.

© Ken Rookes

Prophets and other dreamers

Dreaming aloud as the perplexing words
of the strange and mysterious God
dance to their unique rhythms; catapulting
into the prophet’s conscious thoughts and out again.
Words, this time, of hope;
encouraging affirmations of renewal,
with the troubled times retreating into non-memory.
For the once great city there is a promise
of restoration, of joy and delight; and of blessings
that will become for all an invitation to life.
Words of domestic contentment;
people dwelling in the houses they have toiled hard to build,
and granted the greatest of all signs of hope,
the birth of a child.
The words continue their unconstrained dance
singing of enjoyment and satisfaction in old age;
and of planting vineyards
with the expectation of enjoying their fruit.
“You plant grapes for your grandchildren,”
a winegrower once told me.
The words dance crazily
as they tell of wolves and lambs feeding side by side,
and of lions and oxen sharing the same bale of hay.
At this point we know that the dreaming
has taken over from reality,
and that what really counts is the abiding presence
of the God who answers
even before she is called.

© 2010 Ken Rookes

All things made new?

"But how we delude ourselves! I've been around the Church a long time, and let me remind you of something: in the Church we generally do not like new things! Why, it's the new things that are so often the battlegrounds for church political life!
It'd be fine if the Church stuck with replacing only those things which we want replaced. There's always something we want made new. We want new acolyte robes or new paint in the parish hall. We want the preacher to preach about something new. Sometimes we just want a new priest entirely. But a new sanctuary? Of course not! A new way of praying? No way. Sing to the Lord a new song? No, no, the old ones suit us just fine. The old towers suit us just fine, too.
"All things made new" is one of the most unsettling and downright controversial themes in the Christian Church. Most of us, I daresay every single one of us, whether we are liberal or conservative, whether we are rural or urban, whether we are large church or small church, everyone single one of us have some special image of what church and religion means to us. We definitely do not want that to change. That image is what we inwardly long for when we show up Sunday after Sunday. That image may be what we think we had some time long ago. And it's that image, more often than not, which prevents us from experiencing God."

How do we live today?

"Consider the poetic beauty of today’s reading from Isaiah. To the people who knew exactly what it meant to lose a temple, God says, “See, I am about to create new heavens and a new earth; the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind. So be glad and rejoice forever in what I am creating.”
How do we live today when we don’t know tomorrow? We draw strength from God, who invites our participation and endures long after the cities and buildings and stones have crumbled. We adopt a posture that asks not what God can do for us, but calls us to bring the Kingdom of God just a bit closer. We love neighbor as self and we strive for just societies and a stable planet- new heavens and a new earth. We pray without ceasing, and we trust in a mighty God from whom all blessings flow."

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; ...