Monday, September 18, 2017

The politics of resentment.

Haiku of generosity

A new parable
to illustrate the kingdom,
turning things on end.

Vineyard labourers
hired in groups through the day;
get the harvest in.

Some worked twelve hours,
some laboured for only one.
Pay them what is fair.

The last are paid first.
They get a full day’s wages.
A happy surprise!

The twelve-hour workers
rub hands in expectation;
but get basic wage.

The grumble is great.
Quit whingeing says the vintner;
it’s what we agreed.

If I deal freely
with my money, that’s my choice;
why should you complain?

Others might get more
than they deserve, that’s all right.
Be happy for them.

This story disturbs,
offends our sense of justice.
Best to ignore it.

(We all take offence
when those who don’t deserve it
receive more than us.)

© Ken Rookes 2017

Thursday, September 14, 2017

perhaps a bit too close to the bone?


Ghandi on forgiveness


Forgiveness


 My heart was heavy, for its trust had been 
Abused, its kindness answered with foul wrong; 
So, turning gloomily from my fellow-men, 
One summer Sabbath day I strolled among 
The green mounds of the village burial-place; 
Where, pondering how all human love and hate 
Find one sad level; and how, soon or late, 
Wronged and wrongdoer, each with meekened face, 
And cold hands folded over a still heart, 
Pass the green threshold of our common grave, 
Whither all footsteps tend, whence none depart, 
Awed for myself, and pitying my race, 
Our common sorrow, like a mighty wave, 
Swept all my pride away, and trembling I forgave!

George William Russell

Look me in the eye

If you want a good example of  forgiveness then have a look at the first episode of  the new sbs series 'Look me in the Eye'. It had me in tears.
"Look Me In The Eye explores what happens when two estranged people come face to face - without conversation - to look each other in the eye. Hosted by Ray Martin, Australians from diverse backgrounds are genuinely looking to reconnect with someone in their life. This emotional and riveting series seeks to discover if eye contact alone can help bridge personal rifts, and reveals what happens when only eye contact is used as a form of communication between two people who are estranged. In this episode, former Sudanese child soldier Ayik tries to forgive his prison guard, Anyang."

https://www.sbs.com.au/ondemand/video/1030915651642/look-me-in-the-eye

Monday, September 11, 2017

Seventy-seven times.

Haiku for forgetting to keep score.

Peter came and asked:
How often must I forgive
my comrades in faith?

Would seven times do?
Not really, Jesus answered;
add seventy more.

Another story.
A king forgives a huge debt.
Well done, your highness!

The king shows pity,
his debtor is much relieved.
High fives all around!

Relieved and grateful,
the man will show like pity
to others, won’t he?

Quickly forgetting
the forgiveness he received,
he demands payment.

When you have known grace
how can you not live by grace?
Unbelievable!

We forgiven ones
are expected to forgive.
End of the story.

© Ken Rookes 2017

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Grounding in love

In the passage from Matthew's gospel, Jesus has come down from the mountain after 
the transfiguration and has been teaching lessons that clarify or cast 
question on the Law and how it is enacted and what it really means. 
In the verses read this week, Jesus is teaching the proper ways to 
handle conflict among the disciples. He recognizes this is bound to 
happen. We don't know about your life, but there are about 15 
practical applications of this teaching in our life DAILY. Imagine 
reviewing this prior to staff meetings or visiting it at a family 
dinner once a week. These are practical guidelines - especially for 
groups working together in love. If we truly are living out the 
command to love one another, doesn't this set of guidelines help us 
out? 

And finally, in Paul's letter to the church at Rome, Paul has been 
teaching about authority and has turned to Love - not the love of self 
but a guiding love of "other," of the neighbor, that he understands 
should permeate our lives. He's providing guidance - the commandments 
he references all come down specifically to loving with selfless care 
and concern another person. 

We are where we are today because of the places from which we have come and the rituals and practices that have shaped us. 

God, help us as we attempt to 
focus our energies 
on loving 
and respecting 
each other 
while we 
remember 
the ways 
we have been 
loved 
and 
respected. 
Amen. 

© matt & laura norvell 2011 www.settingourstones.org 

It's about community

"As much as I may not like what feels like an inherent legalism in this pericope -- and, truth be told, in much of Matthew -- when I get over this bias and read the passage carefully I realize that Matthew's deep concern in this passage and in so many other places is community -- honest-to-goodness, authentic Christian community. And the two things I've discovered time and again about community is 1) we all say we want it and 2) we usually have no idea how difficult it is to come by.
Community, after all, is one of those feel-good words that draw us into idealisms -- we imagine a place where you're accepted for who you are, where you're never lonely, and where, of course, everyone knows your name. But the really difficult thing about community is that it's made up of people! And people -- not you and me, of course, but most people -- can be difficult, challenging, selfish, and unreliable. Which means that usually when we're daydreaming about community we're often prompted to do so because we don't particularly like the people -- i.e., the community! -- we're currently a part of.....
To get even more succinct, I'd put it this way: Authentic community is hard to come by. It's work. But it's worth it. Because when you find it, it's like discovering a little bit of heaven on earth; that is, it's like experiencing the reality of God's communal fellowship and existence in your midst. And, as Jesus promises, when you gather in this way -- with honesty and integrity, even when it's hard -- amazing things can happen because Jesus is with you, right there, in your very midst, forming and being formed by your communal sharing."
http://www.workingpreacher.org/craft.aspx?post=1601

Monday, September 4, 2017

Be in agreement

Haiku of the disappointing

Sinners in the church!
How could it be otherwise?
Flawed humanity.

Work through your issues;
quietly if possible.
Maintain fellowship.

Try to practise grace,
forgiving one another.
Sort things out with love.

Rules are enacted
to limit bad behaviour;
love doesn’t need rules.

Accept correction
from your sisters and brothers
as a caring gift.

Agree together
on your Father’s purposes;
advance God’s kingdom.

Where two, three gather
in my name, to seek my will,
I am with them there.

© Ken Rookes 2017

Monday, August 28, 2017

Let them follow me.

Haiku for disciples

The ominous road
calls him to Jerusalem,
paved with suffering.

The elders and scribes
along with the Pharisees;
they will have their day.

And he will be killed.
Don’t say such things, said Peter.
This must not happen!

Move away, Peter.
Your concerns are human things;
they don’t come from God.

Jesus called his friends;
Be one of my followers,
carrying your cross.

In saving your life
you’ll lose it. Lose it for me;
and you will find it.

This is paradox.
Embrace its absurdity
and find your true life.


© Ken Rookes 2017

Friday, August 25, 2017

Who do you say that i am?

   And among the scholars? Some say he was a “peasant Jewish Cynic” 1,2 who offered “free healing” and “open commensality,” thereby spreading “religious and economic egalitarianism”.3 Others say that he was a “prophetic sage offering primarily counter-order wisdom,”4 or (and I like this one) that he was a “spirit person and mediator of the sacred”.5 Some don’t see the cynic/sage/wisdom figure Jesus but do see a “millenarian prophet” Jesus with a decidedly ascetic bent,6 while still others see Jesus in the line of the “classical hero” who patterns the heroic life for his followers.7 Finally, Wright sees a prophet whose “vocation” was to proclaim and embody the completion of Israel’s history, enacting “the return of YHWH to Zion” as king of the long promised kingdom.8
           It’s all very interesting—if sometimes confusing—and it matters. As N.T. Wright pointed out, “What you say about Jesus affects your entire worldview. If you see Jesus differently, everything changes.” Jesus' question, “Who do you say that I am?” is an invitation to take personally and seriously the possibility that maybe we need to see him differently. It is an invitation, as Robert Funk has suggested,9 to venture beyond the iconic Christs of popular culture, ecclesiastical hierarchies, and even scholarship, and allow ourselves to be confronted by Jesus of Nazareth.

           Jesus’ question is an invitation to take personally and seriously the necessity to stop taking refuge in the answers of others and answer for ourselves. It is an invitation to stand as existentially naked as we are able before the one in whom our existence takes on new meaning.

https://www.journeywithjesus.net/Essays/20050815JJ.shtml

Monday, August 21, 2017

But who do you say that I am?

Haiku for answering

What do people say,
Jesus asked his followers;
Who’s the Son of Man?

Some say John the B,
Elijah, Jeremiah,
or other prophet.

Fair enough, he said.
But you mob, what do you say?
Tell me, who am I?

Simon Peter said,
You are the Christ, Messiah;
the living God’s Son.

Good answer, Peter!
This insight is not your own,
it’s from God above.

My good man, Rocky,
I’ll build my church upon you;
you’ll hold heaven’s keys.

What you bind on earth
will be so bound in heaven.
What you loose, as well.

And, by the way, guys,
that thing about Messiah;
keep it to yourselves.


© Ken Rookes 2017

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The quality of mercy

The quality of mercy is not strain'd,

It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath: it is twice blest;
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes:
'Tis mightiest in the mightiest: it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown;
His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty,
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;
But mercy is above this sceptred sway;
It is enthroned in the hearts of kings,
It is an attribute to God himself;
And earthly power doth then show likest God's
When mercy seasons justice.

-William Shakespeare
The Merchant of Venice 4:1 (Portia)

the lesson of the syrophoenician woman

This, I think, is the great lesson of the Syrophoenician woman. It teaches us the dynamics of racism, of how even the best of humanity — the Incarnation himself — can get caught up in systems of oppression, in a culture of supremacy. As a good Jew, Jesus would have been reared to give thanks daily that he was born a Jew, not a Gentile, a man and not a woman. Jesus could not help but become entangled by such a sexist and racist snare.
Jesus, given his embedded culture, could not be colorblind. And neither can we.

But being caught in such evil, however, does not make one an overt racist. It is what happens in the moments afterwards that makes that determination. How we respond, when confronted with the narratives of the oppressed, reveal who we truly are. Do we continue to ignore or deny these realities of oppression? Mock them? Continue to brush them aside as dogs?

Or do we, like Jesus, do the miraculous and listen to them, be changed by the power of the truth of they are speaking?

When this woman, in boldness, confronts Jesus and his racist, sexist slur, Jesus listens, and hears. It is the only time recorded in the gospels in which Jesus changes his mind.

“But even the dogs get table scraps,” she replies, a complex response often required of the member of the “lesser race” who stands up to dismissive racism even while accepting its instituted, ugly, dehumanizing order.

Jesus is astounded, the holy wind knocked out of him. A moment before, she was but a dog to him. In the next, the scales fall from his eyes as he listens to her and sees her for what she truly is, a woman of great faith, a moral exemplar, his teacher.

Jesus does the most difficult thing for those of us born into the unfortunate privilege of dominance or prejudice.

He listens. And allows himself to be fundamentally changed.


Read more at http://www.patheos.com/blogs/davidhenson/2012/09/jesus-was-not-colorblind-racial-slurs-and-the-syrophoenician-woman-lectionary/#mUebgzFlobv8Hzgx.99

Monday, August 14, 2017

Even the dogs



Weary from the crowds,
he slipped across the border for a break.
A holiday with a few close friends,
up north among the foreigners.
Different people, culture, food.
Best of all, no one knows him here.

The woman's love
has grown achingly to despair;
such is her daughter's illness.
Her dormant hopes quicken
when she learns the identity
of the stranger from the south.
Disregarding his request for privacy,
she intrudes, insisting that he intervene
to heal her child.

His response disappoints.
Wrong race, wrong religion.
The man offers a domestic metaphor to justify
his lack of compassion.
Sorry, I can't help;
the food is for the children, not the dogs.

It takes our breath away.

Suddenly we hear the shrill, cheering voices
of the xenophobes, islamophobes, flag wearers,
shock jocks and opportunistic politicians.

But the story continues;
this foreign woman does not know her place.
She accepts the racial calumny,
but, with impertinence,
throws the image back at the teacher:
Yes, but even the dogs . . .

Even the dogs.

The woman, he concedes, is correct.
There are no boundaries to love
except the ones we fashion from our fears.
The man accepts his lesson with grace,
and setting aside his weariness,
offers her the crumb.


© Ken Rookes 2017

Even the dogs.