Sunday, December 27, 2015

And the word became flesh and lived among us

The Logos-word came,
so the story goes,
sharing light and truth and wonder
with us earth-folk;
receiving, in return,
the planet's dust and strife,
along with our tears, regrets and weariness.
Hardly a balanced transaction.

© Ken Rookes 2015

Friday, December 25, 2015

Among the teachers

The boy was precocious, no question;

Speaking of God as father, and such.

Twelve years old, adrift in the temple
and taking it up to his elders.
Being advanced for one's age
is a quality not always welcomed
by the educated, wise and experienced;
Israel does not need another Samuel.

Still, his youthful idealism captured our attention;
in a decade or so,
given the benefit of our collective wisdom,
he might be made into something,
or Someone.

A useful Someone.
With proper guidance and direction
he could become a minor sensation.
Imagine: a peasant teacher from the northern provinces.
Never happened before,
he could prove quite handy.
Such a possibility is, of course, a long way off.

We'll get him to come back in a few years.
The first step will be to re-channel
that youthful idealism;
then we can begin his real education.

© Ken Rookes 2015

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Christmas Poem A bell

Had I the power
To cast a bell that should from some grand tower,
At the first Christmas hour,
And fling
A jubilant message wide,
The forged metals should be thus allied:-
No iron Pride,
But soft Humility, and rich-veined Hope
Cleft from a sunny slope;
And there should be
White Charity,
And silvery Love, that knows not Doubt nor Fear,
To make the peal more clear;
And then to firmly fix the fine alloy,
There should be Joy! 

 Image result for bell of hope

Singing for Hope

Image result for we shall overcome
I found this very interesting sermon about Singing as an act of resistance.
What struck me most was the insight that singing is spread right throughout the Christmas story and i think it was as an act of Hope rather than just resistance.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Nativity Haiku

Shepherds and angels
conversing in the shadows,
illumined by hope.

Good news pronouncement;
Great joy! The one sent from God
breathes earth's air today.

Down in Bethlehem
while everyone sleeps; at last
something has happened!

No room at the inn;
so the man and the woman
had to improvise.

Why do you delay?
You should get yourselves moving
or you'll miss the show.

Entrusting their sheep
to the angelic choir,
they went to find him.

A baby is born.
It happens every day;
what's special this time?

This feed-box cradle
is offered as a sign. Strange,
but appropriate.

The shepherds returned,
sharing their wond'rous story;
couldn't keep silent.

© Ken Rookes 2015

Monday, December 14, 2015

Bizarre rejoicing

For many unmarried women who find themselves pregnant, Mary’s rejoicing would seem almost bizarre. They do not feel that it is a blessing. Fortunately society does not condemn them as much as they did fifty years ago but it still looks down on single mothers. It may take many of them time to adjust to the new circumstances. It would be better for them and ultimately for their child and our communities if we were friendly faces they could turn to as Mary did to Elizabeth; if we were the ones who could give them space to contemplate the situation in which they find themselves.
We may think of the glory of God as being what is shining in God’s face. Moses asked if he could see the glory of God and was shown the goodness of God. God is far beyond what we can know and God’s ways are not our ways but God blesses us too, with glimpses to encourage us.
In the Hebrew tradition, the person pronouncing a blessing is making a commitment to carry through the promise embedded in the blessing. This is the tradition Jesus came from and that Christianity follows. Every time we sing the Aaronic blessing, such as at a baptism, we have a responsibility to help the person to whom we are singing it, understand and experience God’s face shining upon them. We are committed to lives which shine and reflect God’s love, acceptance and encouragement.
This is the week in Advent when we contemplate and celebrate love and the God of Love whose love was most apparent in the life of Jesus the Christ. What can we learn about the shining, smiling face of God’s love as we turn our faces towards the new born child this Christmas? Can we dare to take time out as Elizabeth and Mary did to contemplate the nature and purpose of the blessings of God? Can we face the God who faces us and say, “I delight to follow your way”?

May those of us who know the blessing of God’s face shining on us live in that blessing and pass it on in smiles of love given freely to those who need to see a friendly face this Christmas and for all of our lives.
Rev Julianne Parker (for full sermon see sermons page)

Blessed the fruit of your womb

The story begins with a girl,
fecund, mid-teens,
belly beginning to swell.
It will get much larger,
as, within her womb,
the miracle of life claims its space.

An unlikely sign, vulnerable,
yet outrageously defiant;
a sign to engender hope,
to confront earth's bondage
and futility.

A peasant girl,
pregnant with purpose and possibility;
the lowly are to be elevated to positions of significance
while kings, emperors, princesses
and other persons of power and plenty
will be asked to descend from their lofty seats
to begin their acquaintance with earth's dust.

The girl could be anyone;
any place on the planet,
any point in its history.
She is caught up in this common human tale;
the wonder,
the waiting,
the struggle,
the pain
and the joy.

A sign for eternity.

© Ken Rookes 2015

Monday, December 7, 2015

Enjoying God

Enjoying God is about spending time together, listening to and honouring God and all God has for us! It’s about not taking ourselves too seriously. The writer of the piece of music we call “Jesus Joy of Man’s Desiring” must have known about enjoying God. I heard on the radio that a better translation of the title of this music would be “Jesus Remains My Joy”. What a delightful thing to be able to say! When we are enjoying God, it changes our life. We are more relaxed in other relationships and we are likely to read the Bible quite differently. Joy is about connecting with the things that really matter in life. It is a spiritual experience that helps us to be both gentle and generous.
Most of us will have known from an early age of the call for those who have two coats to give one to someone who has none and to share our food. We may have thought these were the words of Jesus, not realising that these words are attributed to John. Many of us have endeavoured to be generous in our sharing. We may have heard that we should not only tithe our money but our time and talents as well. Paul, in writing to the Philippians, urged them to be generous in their thanks, enjoyment and gentleness so that all people could see and experience it. [Philippians 4:5]
... Someone else had told of how once a year she sat down and worked out how much she had that she could give to charities like the Christmas Bowl appeal and Uniting World. We may, at times like our immanent retirement, spend some time contemplating our gifts and how we can use them productively for as long as we are able. A couple of times, Spiritual Mentors have spoken of the beneficial effects of choosing five things to give thanks to God for at the end of each day but I have never before heard of a near daily check on how generously and affectively we are using the gifts with which we have been blessed.

Perhaps when we are taking stock of things as New Year approaches, we might reassess our lives and the way we are using them, realising that it is a blessing to be alive. And of course, we are all familiar with the idea that if we have two coats we can give one to someone who has none, but we don’t often get around to doing this even when our wardrobes are full. 
Rev Julianne Parker (for full sermon see sermons page)

Sunday, December 6, 2015

The people were filled with expectation

Our expectations are not high.
Should a prophet like John appear in our midst
to tell us how we should modify our lifestyles
so that the whole planet and all its people might benefit;
we would not listen.
We would dismiss him,
deny any truth in her message
and surround ourselves with clever people
to comfort and reassure us.
We would prefer, rather, that some Father Christmas fix-it-God
should descend from the heavens
with his big red bag of gifts for humankind
and sort everything out,
(world peace, climate change, terrorism, the poor,
domestic violence and such);
but most of us don't really expect that to happen.
In the end we find ourselves reluctantly admitting
that the prophet might have been right,
and that change
and fruitfulness
and real hope
might have something to do with the serious work
of repentance.
But, then again . . .

© Ken Rookes 2015

Thursday, December 3, 2015

may we bless our children and grandchildren

The blessing that we heard that Zechariah gave his son “You, child will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people by the forgiveness of their sins.” [Luke 1:76,77] is one that God the Father has given to each of us. We have tended to think that the role of prophets was to fore-tell the future. The role of Jewish prophets was to call people back to God and God’s Way. It was to help people have a realistic understanding of themselves as sinners and also to have a realistic understanding of God’s love and forgiveness. The prophets warned the people that if they continued to behave in certain ways, the inevitable consequences would be disastrous, often in the form of wars.  
Prophets all around the world have been warning for years that unless we take our responsibility to reduce carbon emissions and curb our materialism much more seriously, there will be more war as less privileged people fight for access to dwindling supplies of food and resources.
Today, unusually we had a second Gospel reading that gave us a glimpse of the man John, who had grown from the child whose birth and blessing we first heard about. He was living a simple life in the Jordan Valley as an example of the blessing. He taught about the need for people to be realistic about the things that they did wrong and to see they were on the wrong path; that the way they were doing thing was leading to “no win” situations. It was important that they realise this and that they alter the way they were going, their life style and turn to a different way to avoid disaster. John offered them baptism as a sign to show their commitment to this new way of life.

May we bless our children and grandchildren with our commitment to their future by rejecting the values of capitalism and committing to a simpler life-style. May we bless all children so that they know the peace in their hearts and lives which comes from close relationship with the God of love and peace.
Rev Julianne Parker (for full sermon see sermons page)

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; ...