Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Pondering God's love

Many, many people have had special experiences of God; life changing events; experiences which have caused them to repent in the true sense of the word that is to turn and go in a new direction. Especially in the mainstream Protestant Churches, we rarely ponder the aspect of God’s steadfast love that is individual’s experiences of God. It is outside of our comfort zone and we find it hard to believe that ordinary folk, people we think we know well, could be blessed in this way.
We can contemplate the revelation of God’s love in ordinary people doing extraordinary things and Jesus’ promise that we would do far greater things than he did. We can reflect on God’s love in experiences such as those of the disciples, Paul and Mary. We can mull over Bible passages, weigh up our own life story and open up our minds and hearts to the possibility of God’s love being far beyond anything we can think.

Pondering God’s love brings many surprises. We are able to see people more as God sees them, with love and not judgementally. We are not surprised by how much people are able to achieve if they are given opportunities and encouragement. God’s love says to us today, just as Jesus said in affect to his followers, “Go out trusting that everything you need for your work you have or it will be provided when the time is right and if the place where you find yourself isn’t right, then move on to a place that is right, where you can make a difference!” Perhaps this is some of the most startling advice Jesus gave and shows us another aspect of God’s steadfast love. May you be blessed in your pondering of God’s love, especially in your church services.
REv Julianne Parker
(for full sermon see sermons page)

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Hometowns are for leaving

Hometowns are for leaving,
with occasional returns
to visit family
and to catch up with friends.
On such occasions you will exchange warm greetings,
enquire after those absent
and share your stories.
You will try,
but you will find it hard to understand each other's journeys.    
How can you?
Too much has happened,
good and bad;
so many unexpected twists in the road.
All the surprises, disappointments,
challenges, triumphs and embarrassments;
you, and they, are no longer the same.

Nor was Jesus.
When he returned to his hometown
they would not receive him.
They could not understand
and they would not listen to his words.

© Ken Rookes 2015

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

More than mere miracle stories

"...If we remain at the level of the sheer miracle, we can become preoccupied with questions like: why is this useful ability not more widely available? how might it have happened? did it really happen? is it a legendary story designed to echo the feats of Elijah and Elisha? All questions have their place. But the sacredness of this text lies less in what history it might purport to tell and more in what it celebrates. It celebrates that the human yearning for new life, set out in dreams and visions for the climax of history, can find its fulfilment in being connected to Jesus. It celebrates that the reality of women in community, the suffering and deprivation, the promise of emerging womanhood and all which that entails, belongs firmly within the embrace of the gospel. It does not need male mediation. Sometimes that is its greatest threat. It is still probably a male story and still reflects dominant cultural assumptions about appropriate behaviour (5:33). But it is a moment of light and hope and, like the celebration of Gentile and Jew which it completes with 5:1-20, it celebrates inclusion of women and men and has something healing to say to both."

Monday, June 22, 2015

A woman and a girl

A woman and a girl

For the woman,
twelve years of suffering,
the physical distress of her bleeding
matched only by its consequent social exclusion.
(She is ritually unclean, and will remain so
while ever her haemorrhage goes unchecked).
For the girl, according to the fears of her father,
twelve years of living are about to be concluded,
just when her life should be beginning.

Except that the girl doesn’t die;
the woman, too, is healed by the teacher..
Connected only by a narrative
and the same span of years,
each is restored, in her own way,
to life, family and community.
This, according to gospel writer, Mark,
is what Jesus, the one sent from above,

© Ken Rookes 2015

Friday, June 19, 2015

God Bless this tiny boat

Tiny Little Boat: Boats, Michael Leunig

Whatever floats your boat.

Wake up, Master. Don't you care? Was the miraculous rescue from the forces of nature limited to the days when Jesus was present on earth? Is God really sovereign over the cosmos, including the earth and all its elements? If so, why doesn't God stop wars? Why do children suffer from cancer? Why does hostility invade homes and splinter relationships? Why do boundaries of exclusiveness divide us over race, color, sexuality and creed?
There is a modern saying; Someone will say to you … Whatever floats your boat? It sort of means whatever keeps you alive and happy.
What is your boat? What is it that keeps you afloat in this often violent and imperfect world?
There is a poem by Australian poet and cartoonist, Michael Leunig called Love and Fear which makes the point that there are only two things that motivate us.
There are only two feelings.
Love and fear.
There are only two languages.
Love and fear.
There are only two activities.
Love and fear.
There are only two motives,
two procedures, two frameworks,
two results.
Love and fear.
Love and fear. 
For some it is fear. Fear motivated the panic of the disciples, and it motivate the bloodshed and horror of the David and Goliath, and also Saul’s response to David. The defensive power of fear can be our first response when we are surrounded by difficulties and unanswered questions and our own human weakness. 
Arguably our modern politics is motivated by fear; fear of the refugee, fear of not having enough, fear of terrorists, etc.
It is a powerful motivator. Yet Jesus tells us and shows us, that an even more powerful motivator is love, compassion, hope in the eternal power of God.

Whatever floats our boat? Let it be love. Let it be the almighty love of God.
Rev Gordon Bannon

Monday, June 15, 2015

Peace, be still!

When the boat is getting swamped
and the wind and the rain
beat against our faces and drive into our eyes;
when the news bulletins are full of fear and pain,
our leaders point their fingers
and no one takes responsibility;
when women are beaten,
children deal (or don’t) with trauma
and men set their brains aside
for the sake of chemical pleasure;
when the poor are undeserving,
the wealthy are withholding
and compassion is declared a luxury
we cannot afford;
when the weak and the vulnerable go unprotected,
their oppressors go unpunished
and we are no longer outraged by injustice;
then, Jesus,
speak again those words
you spoke to your distraught disciples,
to the out-of-control elements,
and to a planet curtained with tears:
Peace, be still!


© Ken Rookes 2015

Thursday, June 11, 2015

I Find You, Lord, In All Things And In All

I find you, Lord, in all Things and in all
my fellow creatures, pulsing with your life;
as a tiny seed you sleep in what is small
and in the vast you vastly yield yourself.

The wondrous game that power plays with Things
is to move in such submission through the world:
groping in roots and growing thick in trunks
and in treetops like a rising from the dead.

Rainer Maria Rilke
trans. Stephen Mitchell

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The parable of the mustard seed


A wonderful take on the parables

A wonderful take on the parable. look up the full sermon..
"What’s the difference between a fable and a parable?
I think answering this question is crucial if we are to preach this passage. You see, a fable is primarily didactic, a clever story meant to offer some insight into and instruction about life – think Aesop’s Fables for a moment. A parable, on the other hand, is intended to be disruptive, to interrupt what you thought you knew and not just teach you something but actually to confront you with a surprising and often unwanted truth.
Fables are handy when you want to give kids some good advice or teach them some moral or practical lesson. Who doesn’t remember the lesson of “The Tortoise and the Hare” (slow and steady effort pays off) or “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” (honesty is the best policy)?
Parables, on the other hand, are useful when the truth you want to share is difficult – whether difficult to hear, comprehend, or believe. I don’t know if Emily Dickinson had parables in mind when she wrote her poem on telling the truth “slant” but she just might have:
Tell all the truth but tell it slant —
Success in Circuit lies
Too bright for our infirm Delight
The Truth’s superb surprise
As Lightning to the Children eased
With explanation kind
The Truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind —
Jesus describes the coming Kingdom of God in parables because he knows the reality it introduces is unexpected and that his hearers can’t really take it in all at once. Parables, as Eugene Peterson has said, are in this sense like narrative time bombs.
So here’s the thing: I don’t know how these parables and this sermon will sound to the most established of our congregation. But I do know how it will sound to everyone – established or not, longtime member or first time visitor – who is struggling, who does not feel accepted, who wonders about the future, or who has experienced significant loss or rejection. Because in these parables Jesus reminds us that the Kingdom of God comes of its own…and comes for us. The Kingdom Jesus proclaims has room for everyone. It overturns the things the world has taught us are insurmountable and creates a new and open – and for this reason perhaps a tad frightening – future. This is, in short, a threatening word for any and all who believe they are “self-made” men or women, but simultaneously good news – perhaps the best news – for anyone who can admit his or her need.
Early on in Leif Enger’s wonderful book Peace Like a River, the narrator, in talking about our penchant for domesticating miracles, contends that people fear miracles because they fear being changed. I think that’s true with parables, too. We want them to affirm our assumptions and confirm our faith. But perhaps this week, Dear Partner, our task is to shake things up a bit, unleash a parable or two, and preach the truth slant…that all may know of God’s surprising grace and disruptive love. Blessings on you and yours as this intrusive and redemptive Word takes hold."

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Seeds are cast

Seeds are cast
to lie among earth’s dust,
tiny parcels of potential;
waiting for the clouds to gather.
Tears of anguish and compassion
to water the earth.
Suitably awoken,
some seeds sprout,
putting forth leaves of promise.
Buds form
and open into flowers. Behold:
beauty, colour and wonder
to welcome insects of pollination;
the wind too.
Fruits are set,
bringing fertile anticipation,
and swelling to the generous ripeness
of maturity.
Then comes the harvest
and the rejoicing.
And with all this abundance,
fulfilment, kingdom,
fruitfulness, uncertainty
and hope.


© Ken Rookes 2015.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The way of David

How do we face a crises in our lives? There is the way of Israel which is paralizing fear as seen in Israel's army, shirking responsibility as the tallest man in Israel, Saul, wants to pay someone else to fight his battle for him, and scathing cynicism of Eliab who would rather for all Israel to perish than for his little brother to be right.

There is the Goliath way of confronting crisis which is faith in one's self wielding weapons of arrogance, ambition, and audacity. But there is always a chink in every armor of humankind. ( Of course, if Goliath could speak, he would say that it was the shield bearer's fault because he failed to hold the shield high enough.)
And there is the way of David- the way of faith, A faith based on a belief in past interventions of God- a faith based on belief that the Divine spirit equips individuals with unique gifts- a faith based on belief that God delights in using weakness to gain glory.
We can face our crisis by shaking in fear, shirking our responsibility, and soaking in cynicism. We can face it with arrogance that we have all power, the audacity to believe that we are self protected, and the ambition to tromp on anyone who thinks otherwise. Or, we can draw courage from our past experiences and the experiences of others, careful confidence from the unique, God-given gifts discovered within, and commitment to allow God to use our weakness to gain glory for the Divine Vision.
You and I are called to participate in taming giants, in healing and liberating the world around us.
Rev Gordon Bannon
(for full sermon see sermon's page)

Monday, June 1, 2015

He has Beelzebul

Figures of controversy,
shocking and always out of line;
driven by outrageous thoughts
and foolish enough to give them voice.
The straights heap their scorn upon them,
call them names,
ridicule their ideas,
and hide their disquiet behind their mocking laughter.
This man breaks rules.
His words threaten our authority
not to mention good order;
same thing, really.
These teachings could upset everything.
What might happen to us, our nation, even our world,
should we allow generosity to prevail over fear,
forgiveness to overcome vengeance,
and love to rule them all?
Better to pull the shoot
than wait for it to grow to a tree.
We’ll tell everyone he has Beelzebul;
that should get things happening.
By the time we’re finished
his own family won’t want to know him.


© 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; ...