Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Beatitudes cartoon

We are the poor in spirit

 What does it mean for us as ordinary people and Christians to live righteously and faithfully as a person of God? All our readings have god asking things of us, but arguable, they are ordinary things. We are not asked to be heroes, but good common people. In many ways it is looking only to heroes for these things that leaves us ordinary people feeling that ‘goodness’ is just out of our grasp. Yet you are good people. The beatitudes are not aimed at extraordinary people. They describe ordinary people.
We are the poor in Spirit, we are the ones who mourn, who hunger and thirst for righteousness and peace. We are the ones who can show mercy and even purity. When Jesus spoke from the mountain, he chose to speak in a public place, not the synagogue where he might get the intellectuals or the righteous, but in a place where the ordinary people came to him. Jesus was speaking to ordinary people, not heroes, just us.
And isn’t his message so different to that of John the Baptist. John screams out “Repent! You bunch of no-hopers , or you’ll rot in hell.” And Jesus begins his ministry by saying “you are blessed”.
It is an interesting exercise to read the beatitudes from the first person. We are the poor in spirit, I am the poor in spirit. We presume it is others, the somehow perfect, but see how it feels to say it and own it.

Monday, January 27, 2014


Blessed are you who live according to the yearnings of your souls,
not the evidence of your eyes.
Blessed are they who plant vineyards in their old age.
Blessed are those who are the masters of comfort,
and not its slaves.
Blessed are you who give and who will not stop.
Blessed is the one who leaves no scars upon the earth.
Blessed are they who carry their Lord’s scars within their hearts.
Blessed is the one who listens for the Spirit’s deep sighs,
and trembles within.
Blessed are you who sing your comrades’ songs.
Blessed are they who sigh before beauty.
Blessed are you who allow yourself to be broken by love.
Blessed are those who roar with anger, who confront the unjust,
and those who wait with aching.
Blessed are the lonely, and those who befriend them.
Blessed is the one whose words encourage.
Blessed are you who will awaken from your sleep,
and you who will not.
Blessed are the children of Truth,
sons and daughters of Light.
Blessed are the shameless ones, unafraid to die.
Blessed are they, who, for joy, dance among the stars.
Blessed are the defiant ones,
following the less-trod path.
Blessed are those who choose laughter over politeness
and peace ahead of fear.
Blessed are you who tell the great story
and dream righteous dreams.
Blessed is the pilgrim; travelling in hope
and coming near the kingdom.

© Ken Rookes
This poem is also found in my book, Promptings and Provocations.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Australia Day

I know this will not be a popular reflection, but as Australia day approaches, I feel ashamed about many things that our government is doing on our behalf at the moment. Foremost in my mind are the way we are treating Asylum seekers, our approach to international aid and the way continue to treat the indigenous people of Australia. So, this is a prayer that says much of what I feel this Australia day.
"May our eyes remain open even in the face of tragedy.
May we not become disheartened.
May we find in the dissolution
of our apathy and denial,
the cup of the broken heart.
May we discover the gift of the fire burning
in the inner chamber of our being—
burning great and bright enough
to transform any poison.
May we offer the power of our sorrow to the service
of something greater than ourselves.
May our guilt not rise up to form
yet another defensive wall.
May the suffering purify and not paralyze us.
May we endure; may sorrow bond us and not separate us.
May we realize the greatness of our sorrow
and not run from its touch or its flame.
May clarity be our ally and wisdom our support.
May our wrath be cleansing, cutting through
the confusion of denial and greed.
May we not be afraid to see or speak our truth.
May the bleakness of the wasteland be dispelled.
May the soul's journey be revealed
and the true hunger fed.
May we be forgiven for what we have forgotten
and blessed with the remembrance
of who we really are."
—The Terma Collective,

Thursday, January 23, 2014


(Matthew 4:12-13)

Jesus made his home in Capernaum.
His mother stayed in Nazareth,
along with his sisters and brothers.
They talked in low murmurs
about their eccentric older brother;
the girls were married,
most of the boys too,
with children of their own.
Family gatherings had been good times
of fun and celebration;
with Jesus, everybody’s favourite uncle.
At thirty he should have taken a wife;
should be thinking about his own children.
Perhaps that was his intention,
but why Capernaum, and not Nazareth?
Surprised, bewildered,
and somewhat hurt by his departure,
the family held a crisis meeting
and agreed that a delegation should go
to the seaside town to persuade him to return home.

“It’s good to see you,”
he whispered as he embraced each one.
“Yes, I will be staying.
Of course I miss you,
but no, I’m not lonely,” he said,
as he introduced his new friends.
They wept, spoke of his mother’s tears,
and pressed him for further explanation.
“The time had come,”
was all he offered.

© Ken Rookes

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

the call

But whether small or great, and no matter what the stage or grade of life, the call rings up the curtain, always, on a mystery of transfiguration – a rite, or moment, of spiritual passage, which, when complete, amounts to a dying and a birth. The familiar life horizon has been outgrown; the old concepts, ideals, and emotional patterns no longer fit; the time for the passing of a threshold is at hand.

–Joseph Campbell 1904-1987
The Hero With A Thousand Faces

filling us with hope, not dread

I think all to often the church has had a very narrow focus for its ministry. The church is called to engage the world.....all of it. It is called to move beyond its often parochial vision of ministry. I look at many church members who are literally exhausted by keeping the machinery of the church going and attending meetings to hear the minutes of the previous meeting and plan when the next meeting will occur. We need a new vision in the church such that we truly engage the world in a kind of dialogue on all of the real issues in life that really matter to all of us. Yesterday we celebrated Australia Day, and at this point it is important to ask ourselves just what it means to be an Australian. There are so many Australian issues to which Christianity brings a perspective. One such issue that stands out to me is the opportunity we have as Christian people to dare as followers of Jesus, to be compassionate and welcoming to asylum seekers at a time in our society when that is unpopular. Just as those early fishermen, we need to have our sites raised with a fresh vision about what engagement with other people whose ideas, whose heritage, whose lifestyles are different than ours really means. That to me is the "call" that Jesus lays on us all.

This can all be great encouragement to us, a sign of hope. We often are left with wondering if there is anything we can do for the kingdom. Many believe they can do nothing, they are helpless passengers in the ship of the church rather than crew. But we need to remember, God took a refugee like Moses, God took a young man like Jeremiah, God took a stubborn man like Jonah, a young naïve woman like Mary, ordinary people like the disciples, filled them with hope, not dread, and used them.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Here is the Lamb of God

Small and vulnerable;
God among us.
Gospel number four
tells us that we deal no longer
with the infant of Bethlehem,
with its sentimental trappings
of wise men, blinking lights and angels.
The long-expected one,
the divine Logos, has come,
according to John,
to be a lamb;
to speak to humankind of sacrifice,
of letting-go,
and of death.
Of love, of grace,
and of blood
that demands a response;
not of vengeance,
but of generosity.
by all earthly standards,
but the way of hope, peace,
and resurrection.
Here is the Lamb of God.

©Ken Rookes 2014

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Ready for the revolution

"Thus Jesus’ submission to John’s baptism is no simple act of personal piety. On the contrary, Jesus discerns that John’s baptism and fiery preaching constitute a revolutionary declaration about a new world order where God will set right all that the establishment (in Jerusalem and Rome) has put awry. Jesus says, "Through this baptism, I ‘take up arms with you, John, an (l join this revolution whereby God’s justice will be manifest in the world." By submitting to John’s baptism. Jesus declares, "I am ready for the revolution!"
Other textual clues indicate the political and religious radicalism of John and Jesus. John’s baptismal activity occurs in the wilderness. In the first century CE., the word "wilderness" held a subversive significance. In social protest movements around Judea, agitators led their followers into the wilderness. Thus, John’s choice of the wilderness and Jesus’ willingness to join him there carried a subversive symbolism, especially given the popularity of John’s movement. People joined through repentance and baptism, and declared that God’s true power would emerge on the margins of the society.
Still another indicator of the revolutionary commitment of John and Jesus is the centrality of repentance in their proclamation. Excessive, sentimental use has blunted the sharp edge of the word "repentance," which involves more than an admission of wrong. The Creek word metanoia connotes a change of mind-set. To repent is to adopt a new mind-set that causes one to turn around. It is an apocalyptic act, creating a new way of envisioning and thinking about the world. Only those with new mind-sets will be fit for the new kingdom.
Furthermore, the means by which John and Jesus meet their deaths should convince even the most hardened skeptics of the revolutionary nature of their ministries."

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The well of life

the well of life   He pitched backward into a pool of water to whose edge the furious combat had brought them. And there he lay, unmoving, while the monster roared its victory cry and Una, watching from afar, wept strickenly at the fall of her hero.   But it was no ordinary pool into which the knight had fallen. Its waters had rested in that land from earliest times, and its virtues had resisted even the dragon's foul presence. It was called the Well of Life, and had the power to cure the sick, to cleanse the sinful, to rejuvenate the aged, even to revive the dead.
   So, after a night of mourning and prayer, Una was stunned with joy to see her champion arise from the pool just as the sun rose to brighten the land. The knight seemed as if he had been reborn and baptized anew- his armour and weapons shining, his strength restored and enhanced.
-Edmund Spenser 1552-1599
The Faerie Queene, Modern Prose Adaptation by Douglas Hill

baptism of Christ el greco

Baptise me, John.

Baptise me, John.
Baptise me, John.
I’m tired, need a change,
something to happen,
don’t know what.
Immerse me;
let the Jordan splash over me
and let it wash me deep.
Let the icy plunge surprise me wakingly
and cause me to gasp
as it removes the weary dust of failure,
fear and disappointment.
The water that splashes over my head;
let it clear my mind of narrowness
and open my eyes to the broadest spectrum
of things new and holy.
Drench me, John,
that I may be ready for the soaking of the Divine One
who is surely present in the water and all around.
Let me be covered
and let me be naked.
Baptise me, John;
mingle my tears with your disturbing water
and turn me around
that I might find the new path,
and the way, beginning here,
among Jordan’s rocks and wetness.

© Ken Rookes

The plunge

The Plunge
Jesus, source of living water,
when you went to the Jordan that day
to hear the Baptiser’s cry,
what did you come to see?
Did you go seeking advice
about the lonely life of the prophet?
Were you expecting
to be moved by his message?
When you answered his call to repent
and joined him in the waters,
what were you thinking?
How did you decide that his strident call to sinners
needed the tempering of love’s gracious invitation?
Tell me, Jesus,
was there already an inner growing gnawing realisation
that your carpenter’s skill with timber, joints and nails
was about to give way to a new vocation
of stories, speakings, sharings and sacrifice?
Or was it only when the Baptiser
took you into the cool water,
and you emerged, saturated,
and kissed by the Spirit-dove,
that you had any idea
of what the voice might be trying to say,
or of what a beloved son
might be expected to do?

© Ken Rookes

Friday, January 3, 2014

Epiphany colouring page

The New year

A new year has begun. During this year, too, all the paths from east to west, from morning until evening, lead on and on as far as the eye can see, through the deserts of life, with all its changes. But these paths can be turned into the blessed pilgrimage to the absolute, the journey to God. Set out, my heart, take up the journey ! The star shines. You can't take much with you on the journey. And you will lose much on the way. Let it go. Gold of love, incense of yearning, myrrh of suffering – these you certainly have with you. He shall accept them. And we shall find him.

-Karl Rahner
The Great Church Year 

us vs them no more

This is a time when the list of “us” verses “them” seems almost endless: whites against people of color; pro-life advocates against pro-choice supporters; liberals against conservatives; Westerners against Middle Easterners; Muslims against Christians; rich against poor; male against female; native against foreign; whoever against someone else. “Us” against “them.”
...The three foreigners of today’s gospel remind us once more that our task is to embrace and teach the view that no one is so different that we dare treat them with less love or less respect than we would show those whom we know as brothers and sisters. The epistle reminds us that there is no gentile, no “other” who exists beyond the circle of God’s love. It reminds us that divisiveness like we experience so often is not consistent with the values of God.

The adult version of the Epiphany

The adult version of Matthew’s nativity moves quickly from the glad moment of the adoration and gifts of the magi to a darker, more ambivalent world of political intrigue, deception, and fear-induced violence. (There’s a reason we read Luke on Christmas Eve!) But if Matthew’s account is more sober, it is also realistic. We live in a world riddled by fear, a world of devastating super-storms and elementary school massacres, a world where innocents die everyday to preventable illness and hunger. In Matthew’s story of the visit of the magi – and the subsequent slaughter of the innocents in the verses to come – Matthew renders an accurate if also difficult picture of the world.
And that is what is at the heart of Matthew’s darker, more adult-oriented story of Jesus’ birth: the promise that is precisely this world that God came to, this people so mastered by fear that we often do the unthinkable to each other and ourselves that God loves, this gaping need that we have and bear that God remedies. Jesus isEmmanuel, God with us, the living, breathing, and vulnerable promise that God chose to come live and die for us, as we are, so that in Christ’s resurrection we, too might experience newness of life.
As Denise Levertov writes in her poem “On the Mystery of the Incarnation”:
It’s when we face for a momentthe worst our kind can do, and shudder to knowthe taint in our own selves, that awecracks the mind’s shell and enters the heart.

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; ...