Monday, April 25, 2016

Peace I leave with you.

It doesn't seem to have been very effective,
that Johanine blessing of peace
upon the lips of Jesus.
Wars, crusades and other violences
have never been in short supply
throughout the years of Christendom.

And so we internalised peace;
pointing to the interior serenity
of those who have come
to worship the Christ.
Self-satisfied peace is not worthy
of disciples.
It seems a sad substitute
for an end to brutality, violence and bitterness,
not to mention suffering, abuse, hatred
and fear-engendering politics.
Look around,
see for yourself.

“My peace I give to you,”
the Nazarene is reported as saying.
Are these words for real?
It we take them seriously,
we might need to accept our discipleship calling
to become makers of peace;
we might need to actually do something.
Something to give peace substance,
to clothe it in reconciling flesh and blood,
like the one who came to be its prince.
Something that helps end the fear
and begins to make peace happen.

© Ken Rookes 2016

Now that day was a Sabbath

A haiku sequence

In Jerusalem
by the Sheep Gate; see, a pool
with five porticoes.

Beth-Zatha by name.
There the invalids gather,
waiting for a sign.

When the angel stirs
the water, the race begins;
to claim the healing.

This man cannot walk;
he will never enter first.
He lies there, hoping.

It was a Sabbath
when Jesus came to that place;
breaking all the rules.

© Ken Rookes 2016

Sunday, April 24, 2016

An Anzac day challenge

"...So we may ask, as we gather within earshot of the ANZAC commemorations, which story are we to tell now?

Poet Wilfred Gibson says:
We are to ‘feel the heartbreak in the heart of things.’

This takes us to Detention Centres – that is prisons - to our north, the deep fear in many Australians of invasion, as permission to treat people seeking asylum badly. We must make the connection between those fleeing their homes and the war in Syria – as happened for people in Afghanistan and Iraq. Be angry at the waste.

Isn’t it is time for congregations Sunday by Sunday, as a matter of conscience, to heed the call to civil disobedience? Faced with years of imprisonment and large fines, we must act together, shaping a renewed ecumenical movement, welcoming our sisters and brothers from distant lands.  

Isn’t it time for us to warn politicians that our actions can put us outside the faith: as we do violence so we become an opponent of the Gospel.

Isn’t is necessary for us to hear the story of the First Peoples of this Land. Especially we who benefit from the invasion, with violence and deaths.
It is urgent for us to appreciate and celebrate the rich culture at the heart of this Land and its First Peoples; broken, yet in surprising ways, finding new life. Joining together with joy.

If we forget our story we no longer know who we are.

That is why we have listened to Scripture today, sung hymns, prayed, lit candles – and why we have donned our ecclesial uniform of servant’s clothes and the fiery red of the Spirit.

We are invited into a ‘counter’ story: a remembering that resists the drive to conflict and fear.

He conscripts for life. And gives us a story to tell us who we are.

So don’t be fooled into thinking otherwise! The powers love to make mayhem. They insist that war never ends; they use church language and try to convince us we are powerless to stop the chaos.

But we can resist! We need to train even more seriously than the military do. We have to take risks.

So acts of imagination are called for, ones we must share with children and grandchildren, as they look toward their future. Even working for the abolition of war!

We must say all this for Jasmine who stood up for a man about to be deported, and now faces the power of the law.

We must say it for the Brisbane Canon, Peter, and the Sanctuary church movement. To Grandmothers against Detention, and ‘Love Makes a Way! To all who gather to write letters, visit the detained, keep hope alive in a welcoming and friendly Australia.
To those who craft a Treaty with and for the First Peoples.

And to ourselves as we practice the art of declaring the oppressive powers to be null and void.

In his life Jesus embodies the dream the prophets announced – of a world transformed, rich in life-giving. Peace, Shalom, Salaam for humans and nature alike.
And for this Pope Francis announces the call to non-violent discipleship,
And then we must expect that the Spirit of God, the wind of life, will create turbulence that pushes our little boat into surprising places.

So grieve and  be angry at the waste;
Act for Peace.
This is the counter story Jesus tells, as he conscripts us for life.

That is what Easter celebrates!
Jesus Christ is risen: Alleluia;

 He is risen indeed, Alleluia." 
Rev Dr Wes Campbell - for full sermon see sermon's page.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

God our Mother

Julianne of Norwich

The struggle to love

We are still in Easter time in our Church seasons. The season of Easter attempts to bring together these times and dimensions, pushing us to know the substance of love within us to see into the reality of the Divine beyond. Observing Easter stretches the soul into a special expanded consciousness of love.
Sometimes this can happen when you pray. Beyond all our words and asking for things, our images and desires, the substance of prayer is love. Contemplation is the infusion of love. When Solomon asked for discernment in his youthful prayer at the high place at Gibeon, he was given, not more brains, but a listening heart.
A woman who served in the military during World War II (and is now a nun) was once at a conference with two men, a German and an American. As they wiped dishes one evening after dinner they exchanged stories about the war. The American told of the horror he felt as a young pilot during a particularly savage bombing of a city in Germany. He had orders to bomb the hospital, which he would know by the huge red cross painted on the roof. The second man -- after regaining his composure -- revealed that his wife had been giving birth to their baby in that very hospital when it was being bombed. My friend tiptoed out of the room as the two men fell into each other’s arms weeping.
What the author of Revelation was trying to do was to imagine being in heaven, at the end of the world, where we might fall weeping upon one another, waves of reconciliation breaking upon us as we adjust ourselves to this new dimension of pure love.
"And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more. . ."
Meanwhile, living the commandment to love one another is mostly a tough task -- love misdirected by anguishing mistakes, bad decisions or impulses, in the mess of our human life. And yet, even in the mess, signs of the kingdom of heaven emerge in the struggle to love.

Monday, April 18, 2016

The new commandment. Three haiku.

Life poured out for friends,
generous, painful, costly;
so are we to love.

Following Jesus
means loving one another.
No more; nothing less.

Disciples must love.
It is as simple as that.
Why complicate it?

© Ken Rookes 2016

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Anzac Day

Anzac Day

Day of shining medals.
With each marching step 
they clink solemnly the nation's gratitude
upon proud chests.

There are medals for peace-keepers, too.
Rightly so;
but only a few for peace-makers.

The peace-makers press on determinedly,
undaunted, undecorated
and undisturbed.

© Ken Rookes 2016

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The Lord is my Shepard

Bobby McFerrin does a great version of the Lord's prayer that comes at it from a different angle.

The 23rd Psalm Lyrics - Bobby McFerrin

The Lord is my Shepard, I have all I need, 
She makes me lie down in green meadows, 
Beside the still waters, She will lead.

She restores my soul, She rights my wrongs, 
She leads me in a path of good things, 
And fills my heart with songs.

Even though I walk, through a dark & dreary land, 
There is nothing that can shake me, 
She has said She won't forsake me, 
I'm in her hand.

She sets a table before me, in the presence of my foes, 

She anoints my head with oil, 
And my cup overflows.

Surely, surely goodness & kindness will follow me, 
All the days of my life, 
And I will live in her house, 
Forever, forever & ever.

Glory be to our Mother, & Daughter, 
And to the Holy of Holies, 
As it was in the beginning, is now & ever shall be, 
World, without end. Amen

Monday, April 11, 2016

Tell us plainly (no more riddles)

So, is he the Messiah;
and what does it mean
if he is?
That eternal-life thing;
is it about heaven and the afterlife,
or is it something more significant?
The sheep that hear his voice,
the ones that follow him,
we're talking discipleship now,
costly and committed,
aren't we?
It's not just some pretty, clichéd,
Sunday-school image:
an assiduous shepherd,
with beard and long flowing hair,
carrying a cute but errant lamb
upon his noble shoulders;
is it?

Yeah, I thought so.

© Ken Rookes 2016

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Open my eyes

Open my eyes that they may see
the deepest needs of people.
Move my hands that they may feed the hungry;
touch my heart that it may bring warmth to the despairing;
teach me the generosity that welcomes strangers;
let me share my possessions to clothe the naked;
give me the care that strengthens the sick;
make me share in the quest to set the prisoner free;
in sharing our anxieties and our love,
our poverty and our prosperity,
we partake of your divine presence. Amen.

Rev. Canaan Banana

Monday, April 4, 2016

Do you love me?

The evangelist writes as if for the theatre,
scenes that have been re-enacted
by countless ecclesiastical ensembles for millennia.
In the final act of his disturbing drama
the lead character returns unexpectedly to centre stage
and is brought face to face with a once-trusted friend.
One who famously abandoned him
at a time of desperate need.

We, who also know the bitter taste of failure,
squirm awkwardly with the fisherman
as his master invites him, three times,
to reaffirm his devotion.
The brash confidence of previous boasts
has been supplanted by the shame
of his pre-dawn denials.
Self-assured words no longer come readily
to his lips.

Jesus is gracious, accepting;
he does not chastise.
There is work to be done,
there are journeys to be completed,
there are sheep to be tended;
failures, too, are needed.

© Ken Rookes 2016

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; ...