Wednesday, November 30, 2016

John the Baptist song

I have found this Song by Peter Kearney to be very insightful about John the Baptist.
JOHN AND JESUS         Peter Kearney
Of John and Jesus, the rise and the fall -
John was the prophet, the greatest of all
And Jesus the saviour whom God did send
They had the same message and came to the same sudden end.

 John kept to basics in food and in dress
He made his home out in the wilderness
The down and the out were his neighbours there
He showed us a way when we didn't know where to begin.

He said: Come on everyone to the river to drown
To be tumbled and tossed, turned upside down
Change your heart, come clear your mind
And find your feet on new ground.

One day the Pharisees came from the town –
Smooth talkin' men in their fancy gowns
And John he said - "you're a brood of snakes
You know every law but not what it takes to be good!"

He spoke without fear and news of him spread
The poor, like children, came to hear what he said
He wasn't giving them stones, he gave them bread
They fed on the truth - every word that he said said it all.

John gave a warning- "destruction is due!"
The people asked him - "just what should we do?"
"If you've got two coats then one is to share
If you have power, be sure you are fair to the poor."

You know that Jesus, when he came along
He went straight to the river to be baptised by John
He took his place where John took his stand
Brought news of a Kingdom where the poor of the land could belong.
Herod the King liked to hear John speak
What he said made him nervous but he sure was unique
Then John criticised his plans to rewed
So they put him in prison - before very long John was dead.

And how many people since Jesus and John
Spoke out the truth and soon were gone
After naming the names of the snakes in the pile
They're gone - but just for a while.
"What did you go to the desert to see?
Was it a reed shaking in the breeze?" "
Oh no it was a wiry tree

Growing up strong in a place where a tree shouldn't be!"
Song also available on Itunes to download.

John the Wild Man

Wild Man John exhorts people to fight within their times against their temptation to believe that they can have the riches of Caesar’s kingdoms and the endless pleasures of the empire and still be God’s people.
John inveighs, calling them a brood of vipers who choose to flee from the real work of preparing the world for God. Repent! he exhorts them, urging them to follow a different drummer – him, and the One who is to come.
... God’s earth has always belonged to all people  – people who have moved across  continents and seas, moved bodies and souls, languages and religions with them. Somehow the church has allowed privatization to encroach upon our minds and our land. And somehow the church has allowed  hospitality for the stranger, the persistent biblical theme, to fall into dishonor among the people of God.
Our flight has been into fantasies that are ungodly at best, demonic at worst. The fight Wild Man John urges is for us to separate ourselves from all of this, in a warfare of repentance, of turning away.
This infested darkness, this bog of angers that has hold of our souls, is the place where the Presence will come. Born into no palace but in an animal’s stall, laid in an animals’ trough, then fleeing from war, the Child and his immigrant family have no papers as they arrive in Egypt, where they live as refugees outside the system, the father working any job he can find, the mother, too.
John’s repentance begins with an acknowledgement that God does not need us. We need God, who insists on joining us together as brothers and sisters, us and all the despised people in the world, this motley crew of religions and pieties.
Just getting to that relationship requires a terrific fight.
Everything else follows on from there."

John and Jesus

"John dreamed of the peaceable realm and so do we. He never lived to see its full embodiment, but he planted seeds that enabled Jesus to move forward as its messenger and embodiment. John is Advent personified: he embodies the fierce urgency of the now, but not yet. He is impatient with our foolishness and sin, and wants us to be better. As Advent messenger, he knows that salvation occurs through the transformation of one person at a time. This very moment is the right time for us to let go of the past, turn away from our half-heartedness and complicity with injustice, and find a new pathway to God’s peaceable kingdom, one step and one breath at a time.
The uniqueness of John’s message is a good theme for this Sunday’s sermon. His radical vision, preparing the way for Jesus, challenges us to prepare the way for Jesus’ mission in our time. Our preparation is a matter of deeds as well as words. Walking in the way of Jesus involves a commitment to constant transformation and renewal, to changing our ways in response to God’s wondrous gifts of grace. Like John, we are challenged to announce the coming of a world not yet born, critique our own and our community’s hypocrisy, and recognize that Christ’s presence demands a radical reorientation of values so that we might recognize the realm of God already emerging in our midst."

Monday, November 28, 2016

Prepare a path

Haiku of readiness

The Baptiser came;
a voice, calling, defiant.
Preparing a path.

In the wilderness;
broken stones and tangled weeds
of human despair.

Through the wilderness
one is coming to bring hope;
a way must be found.

It is drawing near,
this strange kingdom of light, life
and revolution.

Make yourselves ready,
bring forth the repentance fruits;
grace and compassion.

Through the scrub he comes
with his words of love and life;
most unexpected.

© Ken Rookes 2016

Monday, November 21, 2016

The day is not known

Haiku for watching and waiting
The day is not known,
nor can the hour be guessed at;
the accounting time.

The days of Noah;
doing our everyday things,
expecting the same.

Eating and drinking,
marrying – things to be done
as our lives proceed.

The mythical flood
comes to change everything,
surprising us all.

Fearful images;
one is taken, one is left.
The day is not known.

Keep awake, therefore.
You don't know when the thief comes.
You must be prepared.

The Son of Man comes
when we are not expecting;
the accounting time.

© Ken Rookes 2016

Thursday, November 17, 2016

The Dawn is coming

“God has called you to your life.  Let it speak.  Let nothing get in the way of being the person that you are.  Zachariah claimed in his prophecy that through the birth of Jesus, “we have been rescued from the power of our enemies so that we could serve him without fear.”  We need no longer fear.  We need no longer hide from God or from each other.  We are free to use the gifts that God has granted us for God’s purposes.  We can serve God in our homes, in our churches, and in our workplace.  We can serve God with our hearts, hands, feet, and minds.  We are free to love God, because it is only in freedom that love is possible.  We are free to love ourselves because we know that we were created in the image of the God that is love.  We are free to love one another because God has called us to do no less.
… Through our freedom, humanity has created many dark and terrible places.  The shadow of death at times looms large over our world, but in the midst of darkness a baby is born.
Zachariah saw a great purpose in his son’s life.  People wondered, “What then will this child be?”  John grew to be the voice in the wilderness that cried out, “Prepare the way of the Lord.”

What then will you be?  For what purpose have you been created?  Use what you have been given to do as John did.  Prepare the way of the Lord.  Show people the way of salvation.  Find those that sit in the shadow of death, and sit next to them.  Hold their hand.  Weep with them.  Give them love.  Show them the light, and declare that the dawn is coming.  Declare that the dawn is coming, and let the Holy Spirit guide us on the path of peace.” (

Zechariah's prayer

this year i feel prompted to look at the Luke reading that gifts us with Zechariah's prayer.
I think this is, in part, due to my need for a hopeful response to darkness. I love this poem by Carter Heyward which i think is a response to this gospel.

And you whose spirit is sad and unsure, try to remember
the very best parts of your life, the loveliest
feelings in your body self,
occasions of bold delight and quiet confidence,
moments of unambivalent commitment and unrestrained joy.
Try to remember when you have believed passionately in
something or someone human or divine.
Try to imagine that someone now believes in you
because she trusts your loveliest feelings
… commitments… confidence… joy.
She goes with us as we are called forth to go, with one
another, evoked by historical memory
and voices audible only to ears that can hear the
power of God in history.
Her name is love.
Carter Heyward:

Monday, November 14, 2016

The place called the skull

haiku for those who scoff.

It is called The Skull,
this place where problems are fixed
in time-honoured ways.

Bodies are broken
and causes brought to an end,
Hopes meet their nadir.

People standing by
join their leaders' scoffing cries.
Soldiers also mock.

The man saved others;
if he is God's chosen one,
let him save himself!

Not much sympathy
from one who also hangs there;
he joins the mockers

Are you not the Christ?
Save yourself! While you're at it
spare a thought for us.

The third man protests:
He's not deserving of this!
Asks: Remember me.

Not permitting pain
to determine love's limits,
Jesus answers: Yes.

© Ken Rookes 2016

Friday, November 11, 2016

Take Heart

You Were Made For This
By Clarissa Pinkola Estes

My friends, do not lose heart. We were made for these times. I have heard from so many recently who are deeply and properly bewildered. They are concerned about the state of affairs in our world now. Ours is a time of almost daily astonishment and often righteous rage over the latest degradations of what matters most to civilized, visionary people. 
You are right in your assessments. The lustre and hubris some have aspired to while endorsing acts so heinous against children, elders, everyday people, the poor, the unguarded, the helpless, is breathtaking. Yet, I urge you, ask you, gentle you, to please not spend your spirit dry by bewailing these difficult times. 
Especially do not lose hope. Most particularly because, the fact is that we were made for these times. Yes. For years, we have been learning, practicing, been in training for and just waiting to meet on this exact plain of engagement.
I grew up on the Great Lakes and recognize a seaworthy vessel when I see one. Regarding awakened souls, there have never been more able vessels in the waters than there are right now across the world. And they are fully provisioned and able to signal one another as never before in the history of humankind.
Look out over the prow; there are millions of boats of righteous souls on the waters with you. Even though your veneers may shiver from every wave in this stormy roil, I assure you that the long timbers composing your prow and rudder come from a greater forest. That long-grained lumber is known to withstand storms, to hold together, to hold its own, and to advance, regardless. 
In any dark time, there is a tendency to veer toward fainting over how much is wrong or unmended in the world. Do not focus on that. There is a tendency, too, to fall into being weakened by dwelling on what is outside your reach, by what cannot yet be. Do not focus there. That is spending the wind without raising the sails. 
We are needed, that is all we can know. And though we meet resistance, we more so will meet great souls who will hail us, love us and guide us, and we will know them when they appear. Didn't you say you were a believer? Didn't you say you pledged to listen to a voice greater? Didn't you ask for grace? Don't you remember that to be in grace means to submit to the voice greater?
Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach. Any small, calm thing that one soul can do to help another soul, to assist some portion of this poor suffering world, will help immensely. It is not given to us to know which acts or by whom, will cause the critical mass to tip toward an enduring good. 
What is needed for dramatic change is an accumulation of acts, adding, adding to, adding more, continuing. We know that it does not take everyone on Earth to bring justice and peace, but only a small, determined group who will not give up during the first, second, or hundredth gale. 
One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Soul on deck shines like gold in dark times. The light of the soul throws sparks, can send up flares, builds signal fires, causes proper matters to catch fire. To display the lantern of soul in shadowy times like these – to be fierce and to show mercy toward others; both are acts of immense bravery and greatest necessity. 
Struggling souls catch light from other souls who are fully lit and willing to show it. If you would help to calm the tumult, this is one of the strongest things you can do. 
There will always be times when you feel discouraged. I too have felt despair many times in my life, but I do not keep a chair for it. I will not entertain it. It is not allowed to eat from my plate.
The reason is this: In my uttermost bones I know something, as do you. It is that there can be no despair when you remember why you came to Earth, who you serve, and who sent you here. The good words we say and the good deeds we do are not ours. They are the words and deeds of the One who brought us here. In that spirit, I hope you will write this on your wall: When a great ship is in harbor and moored, it is safe, there can be no doubt. But that is not what great ships are built for.

Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Ph.D.


Waste of Muscle, waste of Brain,
Waste of Patience, waste of Pain,
Waste of Manhood, waste of Health,
Waste of Beauty, waste of Wealth,
Waste of Blood, and waste of Tears,
Waste of Youth’s most precious years,
Waste of ways the Saints have trod,
Waste of Glory, waste of God,– War!
G A Studdert Kennedy,  !st world war chaplain

Remembrance day

Monday, November 7, 2016

End time warnings

End-time warnings are stock-in-trade for the literalists
who delight in making pronouncements on behalf of the almighty.
These words tell of the fragility of human existence,
of the imperative to mend our ways,
and of the need to be ready.

Accusations, betrayal, hatred, death!
(Rest assured, not a hair of your head will perish!
Work that one out.)
Wars, earthquakes, famines, plagues
and other portents!

I was never much interested in eschatological speculations.
And yet with the planet soon to bake in an atmospheric oven,
and life as we know it most likely changing for ever,
Darwin may yet prevail. If not over the Almighty,
then at least over the self-declared faithful.

All those biblical warnings about end-times
are conveniently ignored by those who doubt the science
and who also refuse to pay the cost.
It seems that the temple and the planet might both be cast down,
neither of which would appear to have much hope of restoration.

© Ken Rookes 2016

Friday, November 4, 2016

The Holy Longing

Janis Joplin was once asked what it was like being a rock star. She replied: "It's pretty hard sometimes. You go on stage, make love to fifteen thousand people. Then you go home and sleep alone."
   Jesus was once asked, as a test: If a woman marries seven times and all her husbands die before she dies, whose wife will she be after the resurrection? He answered that, after the resurrection, we will no longer marry or be given in marriage.
   These two answers, Janis Joplin's and Jesus', are not unconnected. Each, in its own way, says something about the all-embracing intent of our sexuality. What Janis Joplin is saying is that, in our sexuality and our creativity, we are ultimately trying to make love to everyone.
   What Jesus is saying is not that we will be celibate in heaven, but rather that, in heaven, all will be married to all. In heaven, unlike life here on earth where that is not possible, our sexuality will finally be able to embrace everyone. In heaven, everyone will make love to everyone else and, already now, we hunger for that within every cell of our being. Sexually our hungers are very wide. We are built to ultimately embrace the universe and everything in it.

-Ronald Rolheiser OMI
The Holy Longing

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

“Indeed they cannot die anymore… being children of the resurrection.”

"Those words sound radical, almost too good to be true. They encompass more than a physical death, but perhaps aim at the littler (but not little at all) deaths which come to mark our existence. If Paul Tillich was right, that death isn’t a moment, but a process we are living every day fulfilled finally in one moment, what does it mean for us to be progressing in death while simultaneously progressing in life? Just as physical death is the culmination of the slow dying that is life lived, is the resurrection of the body also the culmination of the slow living that is death dying away?
In Li-Young Lee’s poem entitled “From Blossoms,” these words snag me in similar ways to how those of Jesus do:
O, to take what we love inside,
to carry within us an orchard, to eat
not only the skin, but the shade,
not only the sugar, but the days, to hold
the fruit in our hands, adore it, then bite into
the round jubilance of peach.
There are days we live
as if death were nowhere
in the background, from joy
to joy to joy, from wing to wing,
from blossom to blossom to
impossible blossom, to sweet impossible blossom."

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; ...