Monday, March 31, 2014

Lazarus

 
Unbind him,
and let him go;
release her from her bonds.
Let them be quickened,
let them be free.
Liberate them from the bands,
the baleful bands of delusion,
the cords of despair
and graveclothes of fear.
Take the stone away;
let loose the morning’s hopeful light
to chase the shadows from the cave.
Allow sweet birdsong
and the gentle sounds of spirit breeze
to find voice in the previously silent recesses;
so that we who have been dead
might hear the callings of the living,
and, glimpsing some of the possibilities of resurrection,
consider leaving our tomb.

© Ken Rookes 2014

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Myth of the cave

The Fourth Gospel's stark contrast of appearances and reality, true and erroneous opinion, light and darkness, is often seen as a result of Greek and Gnostic influences. But such contrasts are not limited to this Gospel, nor are they a theme of the Greeks alone.

The story of the blind man does, however, ring a bell for anyone who has ever read "The Myth of the Cave" in Plato's Republic. There we find a story of all humanity chained in a darkened cave throughout life. These captives can see nothing but flickering images on a wall—shadows, appearances, illusions—which they take for reality. One prisoner, liberated from the chains, makes the arduous crawl upward to the world of the shining sun. When he returns to the cave with his tales of the new-found source of light and the life and warmth it gives, the prisoners think him crazy. They simply deny his experience. It just can't be. The chains and the amusing images on the wall are reality. Thus his conversion is ridiculed; his invitation is resisted.


http://liturgy.slu.edu/4LentA033014/theword_embodied.html

spittites and non-spittites

     It has been suggested that the origins of denominations occurred when the healed blind men met each other. At first they were all excited about the miracle of sight that Jesus had given them, but as they talked about how Jesus had healed them, they began to discover some significant differences. For some, the healing came with simply a touch from Jesus (Mt 9:29; 20:34). Another proudly boasted that he had enough faith so that Jesus didn't have to touch him to perform the miracle (Mk 10:52). Another meekly exclaimed that Jesus not only touched him twice, but also "spit on his eyes" in order for him to see clearly (Mk 8:23). The final one really felt embarrassed to admit that even though a touch wasn't part of his healing, Jesus' "spit" wasn't enough. Jesus had mixed his saliva with dirt and put the mud on his eyes and then told him to go and wash in some pool of water (Jn 9:6-7). Since each one thought his healing was normal and better than the others, they divided into spittites and non-spittites; muddites and non-muddites; touchites and non-touchites. Denominationalism was born.

Brian Stoffregen

Monday, March 24, 2014

They drove him out

 
They drove him out of the Temple;
the unnamed man, who,
according to John, had been born blind.
Now, with the wondrous gift of sight,
he could not be less concerned;
he has no desire to ever go back,
and he won’t.
The Temple no longer has what he needs;
he will manage without it. In turn,
the Temple will have to get on without him;
and all the others, who,
over the millennia,
have been dismissed from its hallowed courts.
The Temple has been adept
at expelling embarrassments;
those who no longer recite the creeds,
who ask their awkward questions
and dare to give shape to their doubts.
Preferring the elusive uncertainty of truth,
whatever its unexpected contours,
they despise the Temple’s promise
of security and comfort.
They would rather die outside the walls
than live the delusions within.
Do your worst, Temple;
drive them all out.
Nobody cares
anymore.

© Ken Rookes 2014

seeing and not seeing

A man who had been held in solitary confinement for 29 years spoke of how his eyes had adjusted to looking no further than the length of his cell. When he was released, it took many months for his eyes to begin to see further than a few metres.
Chris had been out with his mates for a drive. He commented later how they had teased him because he was continually drawing their attention to things he saw along the way. “I thought everybody noticed things, but they don’t.” he said, disappointed for his friends that they missed so much.
In the story from John 9, we have a number of different forms of seeing and not seeing. Jesus saw a man who was unable to see, because he had been born blind. The disciples, with their question about who had sinned had a blinkered view of the causes of blindness. The Pharisees, with biased religious views, were upset that the man had been given his sight on a Sabbath day. They were blind to the ways of God. The neighbours didn’t know if they could trust what they were now seeing because he looked quite different to them as a sighted person.
We are probably not physically blind, but many of us have had our sight restricted by walls built to protect our religious views. We may find it hard to see beyond the boundaries of our Biblical understandings. No  one may have pointed other insights out to us or encouraged us to look further.

Brother Pinto says that if the way we see God now is the same as the way we saw God five years ago then our vision is severely limited and we haven’t been hearing God’s offer to open our eyes to the possibilities that are available to us. The good news in this is that God is willing to open our eyes, heal our blindness and help us to adjust to new visions of ourselves, others and God. May you be blessed with a clearer vision of God, others and yourself and many new insights.
(Rev Julianne Parker) (for full sermon see sermon page above)

Julianne's ponderings

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The fountain

The Fountain
Don't say, don't say there is no water
to solace the dryness at our hearts.
I have seen
the fountain springing out of the rock wall
and you drinking there. And I too
before your eyes
found footholds and climbed
to drink the cool water.
The woman of that place, shading her eyes,
frowned as she watched -- but not because
she grudged the water,
only because she was waiting
to see we drank our fill and were
refreshed.
Don't say, don't say there is no water.
That fountain is there among its scalloped
green and gray stones,
it is still there and always there
with its quiet song and strange power
to spring in us,
up and out through the rock.
Denise Levertov 1923 - 1997 
Poems: 1960-1967

living water?

I'm not sure they're referring to Jesus here, but i thought it was interesting.

samaritan woman at the well, sixth century mosaic


a mosaic from the sixth century.
I think all of us at some point in our lives have someone—maybe our parents, a teacher, a certain group—someone we wanted so much to just love us as we were. We want someone who knows everything about us, all the good stuff and all the bad stuff, and who still wants us anyway.
Sometimes our world tell us: She’s too Black, he’s too White, they’re too conservative, they’re too liberal, you’re too old, too young, too dark, too different, you’re not holy enough, you’re divorced, you’re gay, you got pregnant, you messed up. Whatever you are, you are NOT ENOUGH.
Today, Christ says, enough! Enough of all of this fear, enough of all these barriers we’ve created. We have work to do, and we can’t do it if we’re divided.

In the Gospel, Jesus doesn’t care about barriers, or rules, or laws if they are meant to separate us. He doesn’t care about tradition if it’s meant to put other people down. In today’s story, all Jesus cared about was the Samaritan woman and her people. In those few moments, he showed her by his words and his actions that no matter what she thought, no matter what society thought, and no matter what the law thought, in his eyes she was enough.

image from 4C roman catacombs - notice no beard on JC
http://www.teamrcia.com/2011/03/enough%E2%80%94a-scrutiny-homily-for-the-woman-at-the-well/

Monday, March 17, 2014

At Sychar

 
At Sychar the ancient well,
said to have been dug by Jacob himself,
continues its unfailing work;
storing the generosity of the even older spring
in its cool, dark pool.
Deep below the sun-bleached rocks,
it holds enough water
to deliver its aqueous life
to inhabitants of the Samaritan village,
and to all who come looking;
provided they have a bucket
and sufficient length of rope.
Lacking such basics,
the travelling man from the north,
thirsty from his journey,
makes his famous request
of a woman who came to fill her empty jar.
A spirited conversation bubbles up.
From earnest banter it spills out
into life’s exponential invitation;
to fashion a bucket,
to twist a rope,
and to delve deeply within.

© Ken Rookes 2014

Julianne's ponderings

There are several questions posed in the Bible which recur over and over in human existence. “Is the Lord among us or not?” is one of those questions.
The Israelite people were thirsty and judging by his reaction to their complaining, so was Moses. They had become understandably anxious about the supply of water which they needed for life. As soon as Moses asked God, he was told where to find water. God was waiting to help as soon as they asked. This suggests that God doesn’t intrude in our lives but waits to be invited. When we find ourselves in trouble, we often assume God has deserted us. It is extraordinary how deeply ingrained in us is the idea that when things are going well, God is blessing us and that when we are in trouble, God has deserted us. It certainly feels like that.
The Samaritan woman had had what for many of us would have been a hell of a life. It was a time when women were at the mercy of men for survival. She wasn’t an ancient Elizabeth Taylor, a conclusion we often jump to when we hear of her five husbands and present de facto. If she had been divorced several times, it was not she who had initiated these. She could not. Only a man could do that and with relative ease and no responsibility. She may have been widowed several times.

How can we know if God is among us?

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Holy Spirit midwife

The Holy Spirit is midwife to born again understandings of God. Anyone who has committed to the Way of following Jesus has been born again. So the crucial thing for most of us is have we matured and grown in wisdom since our rebirth as was said of Jesus?
It is believed by many people that the church is going through a process of rebirth. This is being called by some, “the emerging church.” Last September I attended a conference where the theme was, “Midwives to Change.” One the speaker looked at what it means to be a midwife. She pointed out that traditionally, midwives were mothers who had already been through the birth process. Midwives are there to assist the woman giving birth. They are never the centre of attention which is focused on both the mother and baby. After the birth and a few weeks of follow-up, the midwife steps back, trusting the family to raise the child. At maturity, no one would probably remember the midwife who so faithfully attended the birth, but without her, the child may not have survived.
Now it is the church which must be born again and it is happening through lay people. The role of clergy is as midwives to this birth, not mothers. Throughout Scripture those, including Jesus, who have brought God’s most important messages were lay people, not religious. Often they were people who were considered insignificant or unsuitable by their communities, but not by God.
Sometimes babies who threatened the powerful have not been allowed to live. Midwives have been instructed to kill unwanted ones. We have the stories from the time of Moses and of King Herod of boy babies being killed. As midwives of change deliver new life for the Church may they be as bold as the midwives Shiphrah and Puah [Exodus 1:15] who at great personal risk, refused to kill the babies of the Hebrew women.
Rev Julianne Parker

Monday, March 10, 2014

A teacher come from God

 
A teacher come from God;
that’s what we all need.
Recognising him or her
might be the challenge, though;
and which God?
Seriously, though,
we’ve had more than a few
across the millennia; prophets, messiahs,
gurus and the like,
not to mention all the mystics,
visionaries and spiritual guides
who we didn’t even notice at the time
or dismissed as fanatics.
In John’s classic nocturnal encounter
Nicodemus, a teacher of Israel,
affirms the educational credentials
of one called Jesus.
A teacher come from God:
speaking to remind us about generosity,
justice, grace and truth, (whatever that is),
and of living with courage;
recklessly, passionately and outrageously.
Fully alive, for the sake of love,
the children, and the planet.

© Ken Rookes 2014

Julianne's ponderings

The Holy Spirit is midwife to born again understandings of God. Anyone who has committed to the Way of following Jesus has been born again. So the crucial thing for most of us is have we matured and grown in wisdom since our rebirth as was said of Jesus?
It is believed by many people that the church is going through a process of rebirth. This is being called by some, “the emerging church.” Last September I attended a conference where the theme was, “Midwives to Change.”  One the speaker looked at what it means to be a midwife. She pointed out that traditionally, midwives were mothers who had already been through the birth process. Midwives are there to assist the woman giving birth. They are never the centre of attention which is focused on both the mother and baby. After the birth and a few weeks of follow-up, the midwife steps back, trusting the family to raise the child. At maturity, no one would probably remember the midwife who so faithfully attended the birth, but without her, the child may not have survived.
Now it is the church which must be born again and it is happening through lay people. The role of clergy is as midwives to this birth, not mothers. Throughout Scripture those, including Jesus, who have brought God’s most important messages were lay people, not religious. Often they were people who were considered insignificant or unsuitable by their communities, but not by God.

Sometimes babies who threatened the powerful have not been allowed to live. Midwives have been instructed to kill unwanted ones. We have the stories from the time of Moses and of King Herod of boy babies being killed. As midwives of change deliver new life for the Church may they be as bold as the midwives Shiphrah and Puah [Exodus 1:15] who at great personal risk, refused to kill the babies of the Hebrew women.

Julianne's ponderings

Julianne's ponderings

Julianne's ponderings

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Rebirth



Luke 14:28-30 says, “For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not first sit down and estimate the cost, to see whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid the foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it will begin to ridicule him.” Jesus was warning of the cost of following him and it is true that this may be significant. But if we worry too much about the cost, we will never get started. Somehow, we need to keep a balance between the benefits and the cost and trusting that it can be done.

love and right and wrong

“The trouble with you is that it’s never your fault.” The words hit her like a slap across her face. “Well, it rarely is.” She spat back.

Carol is a pretty mixed up sort of person. As a child she had been abused in multiple ways. She had received mixed signals about things like love and right and wrong. This influenced the way she behaved. Some might have put it that she was more prone to sinning. She was chronically depressed and her marriage wasn’t happy. There were emotional, social and financial pressures. She blamed her inability to cope with all this on her parents. They had made her who she was. It was the influences of her childhood which led to her adult choices. 
If we look at the situation Jesus was in and at the behaviour he modelled when he was being tested, we see ways which may help us. Self -awareness is one key to resisting temptation. At weight loss groups, they advise you to not go food shopping n an empty stomach. You are more vulnerable to temptation when you are hungry. This requires being aware of your hunger. We don’t only hunger for food. We hunger for attention, love, acceptance, status, and material goods.  We will be more able to see temptation for what it is we hunger for when we are more self- aware.
Each of the temptations which Jesus faced were about things any of us could hunger for. The first was for food, the second for loving care and attention, especially from our parents and the third for possessions and power. When we look at the advertising that surrounds us, we might even say, envelopes us continually, we can see it falls into these same three categories.  Fast food advertisements may not be about the food as much as the caring, promoting so called ‘family meals’, or the comfort and fun chocolate can give. Car and house ads are about prestige and the power associated with them.

the powers of this world

In the Gospel story of the temptations, Jesus is engaging the powers of this world--the underbelly of human existence, that is embodied for the purpose of telling the story in the figure of the devil. The powers of this world are the great resistant forces, largely uncontrollable, that hold people hostage, captive to the institutions and systems that carry us along, the forces that drive the spirit of the age promising life but leading to death. The powers of this world seek to render us powerless, before the immensity of the world's problems.
  • These are the powers that say, "No one really wants war, but the bodies keep piling up."
  • That say, "No one really wants homelessness, but we can't seem to do anything about it."
  • That say, "No child needs to die of hunger anywhere, but especially in the wealthiest nation on earth, and yet they do."
  • These are the powers that say, "I am not really living, but simply being driven along by forces beyond my control."
http://day1.org/2694-choose_life

the truth in the wilderness

A truth is always the truth with reference to something. Truth is the radiant manifestation of reality. Not truth but reality is the object of love. To desire truth is to desire contact with a piece of reality. To desire contact with a piece of reality is to love. We desire truth only in order to love in truth. We desire to know the truth about what we love. Instead of talking about love of truth, it would be better to talk about the spirit of truth in love.
-Simone Weil 1909-1943
The Need for Roots
http://www.edgeofenclosure.org/lent1a.html

if you go to the desert

If you therefore go to the desert to be rid of all the dreadful people and all the awful problems in your life, you will be wasting your time. You should go to the desert for a total confrontation with yourself. For one goes to the desert to see more and to see better. One goes to the desert especially to take a closer look at the things and people one would rather not see, to face situations one would rather avoid, to answer questions one would rather forget.
-Alessandro Pronzato
Meditations on the Sand

http://www.edgeofenclosure.org/lent1a.html

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Be tempted

How like you, Jesus,
to claim the moral high ground.
You say you choose the better way
over the easier way;
do they have to be mutually exclusive?
Besides, in our opinion, least resistance
is generally under-rated.
If you have the power, why not use it?
Who cares? They’ll make you king, anyway;
it can be our little secret,
no one else need know.
Our little secret on the way to world peace;
you could make it happen,
if you wanted to.
What makes your way better?
Can you be sure,
and how do you measure the outcomes?
Compromise and pragmatic solutions
have always been the order of the day;
lofty ideals are all very well
but the economy surely can’t afford them.
It’s a low-percentage plan, Jesus;
won’t convince anybody.
Go on; be tempted.

© Ken Rookes 2014