I read a very powerful sermon about this reading, in was a powerful warning to preachers everywhere. This preacher was preparing his sermon to preach to a congregation where he knew there were a couple of parents who were mourning the death of their infant son. He knew he could not preach any sort of sermon that made shallow promises about God’s provision in the face of despair. So he preached what I have heard many times from my Father. He preached about a God who knows brokenness and despair and travels with us into the face of death, and can yet bring life. This is a warning that we should not be tempted here or elsewhere to thing that this story is about a magic trick, it is about the presence of the divine and that is an entirely different kettle of fish.
Monday, May 30, 2016
This reading sits firmly within the Middle Eastern spirituality that says that one must always make provision for the stranger. Hospitality is not just manners it is an obligation. When a ragged stranger turns up on the widow’s doorstep looking for food, little as she has, she must help! No such thing here as fear of the stranger or the refugee, the law of faith is that, little though she has, she must help!
When the New Testament book to the Hebrews says: Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. It is quoting ancient sayings and practice.
Elijah meets a widow who is in such desperate circumstances that she is making preparations to cook what she believes will be the final meal before she and her son, with nothing left to sustain them, starve to death. Elijah comes to them asking for food and drink and though we might see him as arrogant, he was only doing what was normal and appropriate in his culture at the time. He was fully entitled to ask for such help from a stranger and to expect assistance.
Do not seek death, death will find you.
But seek the road that makes death a fulfilment.
Another resurrection story. In the township of Nain
an only son joins Lazarus, and in time, Jesus himself.
(Let's be generous, and add the daughter of Jairus;
that makes four members of the resurrection guild.)
Perhaps the widow's son will outlive her, this time;
(this is the way things should be).
Then she will be spared the bitterness
of rekindled grief.
Another resurrection story,
but they are all really part of the one.
Death's ultimate conqueror
having come among us.
The ones who followed after him
eventually understood that bodily resurrections
have little use
beyond the postponement of grief.
should be received as a divine gift.
Death's purpose is not found in its reversal
but in the fulfilment of living.
© Ken Rookes 2016
Monday, May 23, 2016
They have an efficacious power
written deep within the interstices of their syllables;
these words of Jesus.
We disciples should repeat them often,
even the difficult ones.
We should speak them confidently
with an attitude of blessing, hope
Be at peace! Forgive!
Love your neighbour!
(And your enemies.)
Do for others
as you would have them do for you!
Walk away from your wealth!
(How did that one sneak in?)
Be free! Live fully! Follow!
laying aside reservations
and overcoming our inhibitions,
we might even voice the words
loudly, in public spaces.
We could spray them rudely on walls,
pass them out with cups of water,
or paint them boldly upon our faces;
shouting with appropriate outrage and defiance,
and causing good people
© Ken Rookes 2016
Wednesday, May 18, 2016
"...The template of all reality is Trinity : Trinity that is totally male AND totally female. We are told this in the first chapter of our Scripture. “Let us create humanity in our image, male and female they were created.” the creation story says [Genesis 1:26]. Within the Trinity perfect love and are perfectly loved. We come to know who God is through exchanges of mutual knowing and loving.
We will always run into trouble when we try to name or describe God with human words. We do not have either genderless or gender inclusive pronouns to use when talking about people. This is a problem for people with gender dysphoria so perhaps some will be developed in coming years.
If Wisdom was present in the beginning as John tells us Christ was; where does Wisdom fit with the Trinity? Was Paul correct in naming Christ the Wisdom of God and has the Body of Christ been severely limited through the centuries as it has ignored this? As we heard earlier, Paul saw Christ as both the Power and the Wisdom of God. If the Church had honoured this image it may well have come to call Christ, the daughter of God with subsequent very different outcomes for women through the centuries.
Total exclusion of women in the Church did not occur until after the Reformation. The Orthodox Church has at least one famous icon that depicts a member of the Trinity as female. The Roman Catholic Church has always had Mary, revered as the Mother of Christ. But after the Reformation, neither men nor women in the Protestant Churches had even one woman to look up to. How much might our portrayal of God as totally male influence male dominance and violence against women? It is surely something to prayerfully contemplate."
Rev Julianne Parker
For full sermon see sermons page
Monday, May 16, 2016
To make sense of Christ,
(they say it is essential);
this trinity thing.
How does it all work?
Some questions can't be answered,
but still we ask them.
Father, Son, Spirit;
our mystical formula.
Ah, we are foolish!
© Ken Rookes 2016
Friday, May 13, 2016
Monday, May 9, 2016
My eyes, my mind and my heart,
I like to believe, are open.
But when the Spirit of truth comes,
how will I know?
Perhaps she has already come.
She will, I assume, speak to me of Jesus
and his teachings; telling of love
and generosity, of justice and defiance,
of courage, anger, compassion and peace.
I am emboldened, and challenged
to join with my sisters and brothers
and pray: Come Holy Spirit!
But when she comes;
how will I know?
© Ken Rookes 2016
Monday, May 2, 2016
Most of us live in quite favourable circumstances of relative freedom and these do not guarantee us salvation or true liberty. Most people in the world would envy us our freedoms of liberty and economic choice. Perhaps we don’t know the meaning of the yearning for freedom because we don’t know about the lack of it. Much of the world knows such a yearning. A yearning for the freedom of having enough food, water and a place to sleep. Freedom from the constant threat of having your home bombed or your
When I was young person growing up in the church (about 13 or 14), I remember nothing moved me more in the church service than singing those words of the Wesley hymn “my chains fell off, my heart was free, I rose went forth and followed thee.” I felt charged and close to tears with the passion of the words and the image in the story of Paul in prison. A few years ago at the funeral of
that same hymn was sung by a packed church. I presume many of you have had the
chance to sing that hymn in a packed church. It is very uplifting. But, at the
same time as I was being carried away with this marvelous hymn, I looked up
and, on the balcony of the church there were a large group of people who were
not church people. It was fascinating to see the expressions on their faces as
some of them tried to join in and others stood exchanging bemused and puzzled
looks with each other. It occurred to me that some of them may have been
impressed with the singing, but to most of them, the concepts involved in the
hymn, the theology, was alien and unintelligible.
To me, in my younger days those words spoke to me somehow of my own liberation from personal sin somehow. The joy I felt was about me personally and what I felt God was giving me.
I have also spent some time in my life when I have felt that those words apply to the sort of political liberation that God promises. It is a liberation from the politics of dishonesty and oppression to one of justice and compassion. In many ways that is where I am today when I think of our liberation.
As I grown older I no longer see things in that way. In fact sometimes when I look at my self in the church I feel like those people in the balcony. So we have before us the question, What do we ask of God when we say .. Be our Freedom Lord!
The role of the church when it comes to freedom has often been to be the oppressors and rightly or wrongly, many people in our modern age regard the church as just that.
“In every country and every age, the priest has been hostile to
-- Thomas Jefferson
So what is the meaning of the liberation we have as Christians and the liberation we are called to be and to share?
Of Paul and Silas it is said
There were in Prison laid
But when they went to take them out
They were not there instead.
Security the same insures
To our assaulted Minds --
The staple must be optional
That an Immortal binds. (Emily Dickinson)
Part of the challenge of our disciple's work is undoubtedly to put all this in terms that resonate with the twenty-first century. How do we make real our 'way of salvation' today? The rest is just to be there when suddenly it is clear that someone does require saving, healing, freeing, rescuing, here and now. God needs one or more of his disciples, probably at some cost, to deliver his love at the point of need. God also requires of us to lose our own chains, to give over those things that keep us down and restricted in our lives. AMEN.
Rev Gordon Bannon
Jesus' parting prayer
for those who come after him.
That they may be one.
Sent into the world
that love might find fulfilment;
Jesus, among us.
He spoke unity:
I in them and you in me.
© Ken Rookes 2016