Monday, March 30, 2015

The Betrayal

Rev Dr Wes Campbell has done a new Easter journey triptych and has given me permission to post his paintings and share on our site. 
This is the first panel portraying the betrayal of Jesus. 
Please feel free to use with acknowledgement.

The agony of Good Friday

Rev Dr Wes Campbell has done a new Easter journey triptych and has given me permission to post his paintings and share on our site. 
This is the central panel portraying the agony of the cross. 
Please feel free to use with acknowledgement.

the irrepressibility of love

Today, of all the days of the year, is when we think and feel and tell the Good News. Today we are celebrating the irrepressibility of love, joy, peace and all the other fruits; of faith and hope; of life in all its fullness, overcoming all obstacles. Truly, love will come again like wheat that springs up green; not only love but joy and life. This is the key to the conclusion of Mark’s Gospel. That we are here celebrating today is evidence that love can be battered, bruised, even thought to have been killed, but that is an illusion.
Love cannot and will never be destroyed. It can be ignored, suppressed, denied but still it keeps on springing back. Love has been largely overlooked as the source of all good. To show love has even been considered a weakness. But love will be expressed. When it could not be spoken of openly for cultural reasons, it has been shown covertly. One doesn’t have to watch many episodes of the Antiques Road Show, to see and hear them talk about the language of love being powerfully expressed symbolically in flowers and jewellery.

Love is what happened on the first Easter day. It had, of course been happening since the beginning of time. Creation itself was the first act of love and it is believed to have gone off with quite a bang!
Rev Julianne Parker
(for full sermon see sermons page)

'Out of Darkness'

A bit of a different post for this site, but inspired by the wonderful theme and a desire to share the beauty of this exhibition. Click on any of the pics to see the closeup and have a just a a taste of the exhibition. For those close enough; don't miss it as a part of your Holy Week journey.

art exhibition by Queenscliffe artists,

speaking the truth to power

For the past few years, as traumatised people have fled towards safety, towards what they believed was a civilised and compassionate haven, our national peace of mind has been built upon the hidden, silent suffering of others.Palm Sunday commemorates the day an itinerant prophet spoke truth to power. Jesus of Nazareth arrived at the gates of Jerusalem in a parody of imperial pomp. But he was a nobody. Instead of a stallion, he rode up on a borrowed donkey. In place of an army, he had a bunch of lily-livered misfits throwing down their cloaks and palm branches as if he was a big shot.  Street theatre, if you like. And a week later he was dead. He was there to challenge the commonsense of the day. Armed with only an idea.

Jesus used to say things like this. If a child asks you for bread, will you give him a stone?Awkward things like that.
His followers called his idea The Way. Many of us are here today because the idea has stuck. We try to follow the Way of Peace and Love. Just another bunch of lily-livered misfits.
For generations, in communities all over the globe, Palm Sunday has been a day when people walk for peace and reconciliation. And not just Christians. People of every faith and of no faith at all come together as we have today in solidarity. To express our communal values and yearnings, the things that bind us rather than those that separate us. 
We belong to a prosperous country, a place where prosperity and good fortune have made us powerful. Yes, whether we feel it or not, we are exceptionally powerful as individuals and as a community. We have the power of safety. We're richer, more mobile, with more choices than most of our fellow citizens worldwide. Not because we're virtuous, but because we're lucky. But we don't come here to gloat. We're here to reflect. To hold ourselves to account. We didn't come here today to celebrate power or to hide in its privileged shadow. We're here to speak for the powerless. We're not here to praise the conventions of the day, but to examine them and expose them to the truth. We're not here to reinforce the status quo. We gather to dissent from it.
Tim Winton (see rest of speech in The Age here) 

It is finished

A stone to seal an entrance,
asserting the boundary between the living
and the dead.
Linen cloths to bind a corpse,
cold lips hidden within coarse fabric;
no longer can they speak their words of love.
A hundred pounds of myrrh and aloes
to weigh a body down,
to keep it from floating off
into mythical certitude;
or uncertainty, if you prefer.
On Friday, with the setting of the sun,
light is overcome by the darkness
as a man is laid in his tomb.
Death's accoutrements
determinedly underline the tears,
the despair,
and the apparent finality:
it is finished.

© Ken Rookes. 2015

Monday, March 23, 2015

God's encouragement

Since the story of the resurrection has been known it has been an encouragement for those who are experiencing suffering, whatever its cause. There are several places in the gospels which seem to indicate that Jesus knew that he would rise again after three days. Why then was he so distressed at this time? After all, it would soon be all over! If we believe that Jesus was truly human he could not have had this knowledge and scholars believe these passages were written with the benefit of hindsight.
It can be encouraging for people to read of the experiences of how others coped with adversity two and a half thousand years ago and how Jesus did two thousand years ago, but it is also encouraging to hear stories since then and in particular, in our time. Feelings associated with difficult times are similar today to those experienced by the Psalmist, by Isaiah and by Jesus. It is good to know God is with us in these experiences now.

We may speak of the encouragement we have received through experiences of God’s action in the lives of others. These people may be seen as special, not ordinary folk like us. We are often reluctant to tell of the encouragement we have received through the experience of God’s love in our own lives even though we know it will help others because we fear being ridiculed as Isaiah was. God still wakens our ears to listen, to be strengthened, to have the words to encourage and sustain the weary. God answers our desperate prayers with encouraging reassurances that all we will need for this day will be provided.
Rev Julianne Parker 
(for full sermon see sermons page)

Sunday, March 22, 2015



In Willowra

languorous donkeys make their way

along the paved roads and unsealed streets,

chomping on their grassy tucker.

They move at an easy pace.

Sometimes they stroll across invisible boundaries,

disturbing packs of proprietorial dogs

These rouse themselves from shaded slumber,

to dustily defend their family’s territory

by chasing the offending beasts away.

The two-legged inhabitants of this community,

unlike their canine companions,

mostly leave the donkeys alone.

Like all of their kind,

the donkeys of Willowra

prefer a quiet life.

In Bethpage, near Jerusalem,

the colt of a donkey was, for a time,

wrenched from its stillness

and prevailed upon to carry a man into the city.

The procession was noisy,

with flourished cloaks and branches

thrown excitedly upon the road

in front of the shy, equine creature;

all the way to the temple.

A few hours later it was all over.

The colt was dismissed

and allowed to return to his gentle ruminations.

For the man who rode him,

the ruckus had just begun.

© Ken Rookes 2015.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Unless a grain of wheat dies!

Living a true life

I struggle with the idea that we are called to 'hate' our lives. But i think that what Jesus was doing doing was calling us beyond a shallow definition of living to a deeper, truer path.
On hating one's life: Jesus did NOT mean that we are to hate ourselves. We are children of God and how can we hate God's creation? He also did NOT mean to hate our jobs or our homes, or our marriages, or anything that we DO on this earth. What we DO is only a superficial part of our lives. And he did NOT mean the disregard for life that comes from being depressed and leads to suicide. He was not talking about killing ourselves (as in suicide, or suicide bombing), but being killed for a higher good.

What Jesus meant is that we are not to be so attached to our life that we can't see anything more important than it; than 'me'. When we 'hate' our life, we are willing to give it up for the sake of something good... for the sake of God, or truth, or justice, or love. In a real sense i think that to 'hate' our life in the way Jesus speaks of is to love what is true and meaningful and beautiful in life, not what is hollow or false. It is to live a life of Love.

The challenge of God's law within us

In the Gospel reading, we heard Jesus say that unless a grain of wheat falls to the earth it remains a single grain, but if it dies, it bears much fruit. This could be another way of expressing the idea that the primary goal for Christians is not their own comfort and advancement but to do everything possible to encourage others to life in all its fullness. We know that the seed falling to the ground does not die. In fact, if it did die, it would produce little except a minute amount of nutrients for another plant. What happens when the seed falls to the ground is that it comes in contact with the ground of all being which enables all the hidden potential of the seed to be released and to flourish.
Christians for the main have aspired to move away from earthiness rather than towards it. Why has the Church thought that grand buildings were what brought glory to God? Does a great cathedral, which was built at the cost of many lives both in the actual building and in the cost it was to the poor people of the district show more of God’s glory than a single sprouting seed? It depends on how you see glory. Do we see the glory of God’s humble goodness or is it the power and wealth of Empires we see? Such buildings show how clever humans are rather than the glory of God..
Being prepared to lay down our lives is about acting humbly rather than showing how great we are. The world by now might be quite different if the Church had remained an example of the humility of God rather than its idea of the glory of God? If we had taken note of what God told Moses about the glory of God being goodness, if we had heard the prophets telling us that God hated the way the people worshiped and that what God wanted was justice, mercy and humility, the whole world might be different.

God has made a new covenant with us and put God’s law with in us. God has given us many gifts, fruit and abilities to enable us to become more Christlike. We have the responsibility  to trust these are sufficient for us to behave as Jesus behaved and calls us to do.
Rev Julianne Parker
(for full sermon see sermons page)


He was elevated.
It was not for the purposes of admiration or acclaim;
a strange glorification.

The crudely fashioned wooden platform
is no pedestal.
What, then, shall we call it,

this instrument of shame and death;
conveniently named for its shape
rather than its purpose? No matter,

the two have been conflated
over the millennia.
There is, however, no convenience in death.

No, that is not true.
It is all a matter
of where you are standing.

Lifted from the earth,
three metres, four at the most,
anchored to earth’s rocks and dust

not by nails driven cruelly into timber,
but by cords;
willing ribbons of love.

© Ken Rookes 2015.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

preferring darkness to the light

"...we can be critical of the Israelites as they wandered. We don’t actually know exactly how long it took them to reach their destination. Someone reminded me recently that it is a journey of less them a week on foot if you go directly from Egypt to the Promised Land. But when you are in the wilderness of grief, it can seem a long, long time and many times you wonder if you will ever make it to the other side. Like the Israelites, it can help us to have something held in front of us by a friend, to remind us that God still cares even when we feel we are being attacked on all sides. We can hang on to the knowledge of Christ and the message from the Gospel of John that God did not send Jesus to judge or to condemn us but to save us.
It is not at all unusual for grieving people to feel they are being condemned by others who think they should be over it or just forget about it and get on with their lives. People who have suffered loss do not need to be further traumatised by the use of Scripture that condemns them and seems to show God as harsh and uncaring.
It has been pointed out [Richard Rohr] that Jesus selectively emphasised texts that revealed his God as good, faithful, inclusive and merciful. And he created stories and healing events to communicate that point. Jesus consistently ignored passages that reveal God as punitive, exclusionary, imperialistic, small or tribal.  The Gospel reading set for today [John 3: 19-21] talks about people preferring darkness to the light which has come into the world. Concentrating on passages about God sending poisonous snakes is preferring darkness to the light which Jesus shines on God."
Rev Julianne Parker
(for full sermon see sermons page)

Hide and seek

Hide and seek

We are children.
We play hide and seek,
and cling to the shadowed places;
pretending that no one can see us.
Imagining that we
will not be found.

The light is not our friend.
Send it away,
lest it shine revealingly
upon our hiding places;
our living, our dying,
the things we do.

Seductive darkness, brush our cheeks.
Let our eyes remain closed,
that we might continue
our multiple deceptions.
Lest we be found.

The darkness is many;
the cracks
through which the light comes in
are few.
The candle flame flickers;
Small, but defiant.

© Ken Rookes 2015.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Unless someone like you cares a lot

The lorax is definitely a book about standing up against injustice. To me a theme in common with Jesus stance in the temple.

Righteous anger

Righteous wrath like Jesus displayed is a dangerous passion. I am always uncomfortable with the imagery of war in relationship to faith. But when wielded "against the enemies of love" in defense of the vulnerable... perhaps the anger at times is necessary.

Righteous Wrath

There are many kinds of hatred, as many kinds of fire;
And some are fierce and fatal with murderous desire;
And some are mean and craven, revengeful, sullen, slow,
They hurt the man that holds them more than they hurt his foe.

And yet there is a hatred that purifies the heart:
The anger of the better against the baser part,
Against the false and wicked, against the tyrant's sword,
Against the enemies of love, and all that hate the Lord.

O cleansing indignation, O flame of righteous wrath,
Give me a soul to feel thee and follow in thy path!
Save me from selfish virtue, arm me for fearless fight,
And give me strength to carry on, a soldier of the Right!

Henry Van Dyke (1852-1933)

Lent Video

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

A warning

Jesus Cleansing the Temple, Jeffrey Weston.

 I read the cleansing of the temple as a stark warning against any and every false sense of security. Misplaced allegiances, religious presumption, pathetic excuses, smug self-satisfaction, spiritual complacency, nationalist zeal, political idolatry, and economic greed in the name of God are only some of the tables that Jesus would overturn in his own day and in ours. Church is more than a place to enjoy a night of bingo or to reinforce my many prejudices and illusions. Thank God, then, for the Psalm for this week which concludes with a prayer that is wonderfully appropriate this Lenten season: "Who can discern his errors? Forgive my hidden faults. Keep your servant from willful sins; may they not rule over me...May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer" (Psalm 19:12–14). 

Monday, March 2, 2015

Getting away with it

Wandering around
on the fringes of respectability
and caring nothing for the good regard
of the religious establishment,
Jesus pulled a ‘Pussy Riot’ protest
in the sacred precincts of the temple.
He left behind a chaos of coins and cattle,
upturned tables,
and a whip of cords.

He seemed to have gotten away with it.
They didn’t arrest him,
or throw him, Baptist-like, into prison;
things eventually settled down.
The teacher got on with his unorthodox life,
roving the land in his capacity
as a no-fixed-address itinerant,
outrageously telling it like it was.

Those in authority,
the Chief Priests and the others,
played it cool.
They righted the tables,
rounded up the livestock,
and gathered together the discarded cords.
These they plaited into rope enough;
and waited for the moment.
The arrest, incarceration,
and much worse,
would come.

© Ken Rookes 2015.

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; ...