Monday, February 27, 2017

Out into the wilderness.
Haiku for considering

The Spirit led him
out into the wilderness.
Time to think and pray.

Fasting forty days,
the pangs gnaw at the belly,
the mind becomes sharp.

The tempter comes by
to clarify the issues
and offer advice.

If you are the one,
the Son that God is sending,
make bread from these stones.

I could use some food.
There's so much more to living;
I'll take the hunger.

Look at the city!
Throw yourself from its towers;
angels will catch you!

It's there in the book,
if you make demands on God
you're missing the point.

Power and riches!
Trust me, you can have it all;
simply worship me.

Enough! says Jesus.
Life is real, becomes worthwhile,
when you're serving God

The tempter decamps,
leaving Jesus by himself
to weigh his options.



© Ken Rookes 2017.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

a transfiguration Prayer for others

·       FOR OTHERS
Stir up in us, Loving God, the desire and the determination to glorify you in every prayer and in all our relationships. Transfigure not only our own lives but also the lives and affairs of the millions with whom we share this planet.
 Transfigure each ordinary church-goer.
     Dispel discouragement and self-doubt, self-righteousness and arrogance.
 Transfigure the women and men who preach the Gospel. 
     Enlarge their understanding and expand their capacity to love.
 Transfigure the hopes of the down-trodden and dispossessed.
     Give a new compassion to the strong and the prosperous.
 Transfigure the expectations of the young.
     Disperse the vainglory and indulgence with which this society indoctrinates them.
 Transfigure the values and goals of political leaders.
     Inspire them to act justly, love mercy, and to walk humbly with you.
 Transfigure the anguish of those who tremble or weep, suffer or die today.
     Let the valley of sorrows become an avenue of hope to your children.
 Through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen!
Bruce Prewer

beyond-ness

“[I believe] there is nothing more needed by humanity today …
than the recovery of a sense of “beyond-ness”
in the whole of life to revive the springs of wonder and adoration.”  John. V Taylor

Building the monument

The disciples who were with Jesus made a little error. The gospel writer even says so. Peter, James and John all wanted to be able to concretize and define their experience. They could not sit with the mystery and the unexplained nature of it. Their response was to erect booths or tents so that it the experience could be contained and to some extent understood.  I guess they also felt that the buildings could help convey their experience. But in some ways what they were trying to do was to limit God, to define God in their terms and in their own space and they were doing so for very real human reasons.

           This is just what we do whenever something of importance happens, we tend to want to put up a monument, partly in order to honor the people, partly to aid our memory of the incident, but also in order to make it confinable and explainable. It has been argued that the Church is nothing more than a historical monument to God. Not something vibrant and alive, but rather something more to do with memory and our inability to cope with the freedom of God and so we make a structure in the hope of being able to contain God. 
"Then alone do we know God truly, when we believe that God is far beyond all that we can possibly think of God.” (Thomas Aquinus)

Monday, February 20, 2017

His face shone like the sun


Haiku of fear and bewilderment


A small, select group
go hiking up a mountain
to admire the view.


A vision of light.
His face, it burns like the sun,
his clothes dazzle white.


Jesus shines, commands
his friends' attention; as if
words were not enough.


Jesus greets Moses
and Elijah, consulting
with history


The cloud of bright light
descends and immerses them
into mystery.


The cloud finds its voice:
This is my beloved son;
what he says is true.


The disciples quake,
with bewilderment and fear.
They fall to the ground.


They are left alone.
Jesus comes to them and speaks:
Do not be afraid.


Making their descent,
he instructs them: Tell no-one
'til death is conquered.



© Ken Rookes 2017

Friday, February 17, 2017

loving the Trump

I wonder if we truly realize the radical nature of this particular section of Gospel. We are 'commanded' to love our enemies and pray for those that hate us, and yet we live in a world that preaches and practices the very opposite. And before we get 'holier than the other bloke' then remember that we are called to love that which we cannot understand; that with which we cannot agree and even those we see hurting others by their words and actions. In other words we are called to love that which we see as 'evil', not just misguided.
So, yes, we are called to love 'the Donald'. What does that mean? Well firstly we pray for him. And secondly we do not let hate carry us away in its grip. We do the radical thing and find 'love' for him. The challenge is to balance the prophet in our faith (that which calls for justice for the marginalised and for a better world) with the call to pray for our enemies. We do not live by an 'eye for an eye' but rather use the Divine creative imagination to pray a new way into being. Jesus was talking about breaking the cycle of hatred and he knew (and practiced) that it is not broken by more hate but only by love. My guess is that what Jesus is saying in this gospel is that, if we allow ourselves to be ruled by hate and competition, then we are not living the Divine way ourselves.
This is not an easy thing to do when we are surrounded by anxiety and disillusionment and 'bad' news, but Jesus' guidance here is that we do not change the despot by hate, but only corrupt ourselves. Am i up to it???? I am still working on it i think.
And also, on reflection, perhaps what Jesus gives here is not so much a commandment as a guide to living a rich and blessed life.
Rev Gordon Bannon

no assurance, just a command.

"Jesus is far more realistic than we give him credit. The only certainty in Jesus’ command is that we will have enemies.  There’s no reassurance that our love will transform them, improve our earthly status, or end wars. We are simply told to love and pray for adversaries so that we “…may be children of (our) heavenly Father.”

Even if we interpret the preceding verses (5:38-42) as social historians of the Mediterranean world suggest (i.e. reframing insults and oppression in ways that assert our human dignity), the path of nonresistant love is rarely painless. It is, in point of fact, often lethal. Remember that Jesus is raised in triumph after we tortured and killed him.
But what’s realistic about a command like, “ Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect?”  (It’s no wonder many prefer Luke’s rendering (6:36): “Be merciful just as your Father is merciful.”)"
http://www.ekklesiaproject.org/blog/2011/02/realist-of-grace/

The mystery of God

"The "real target" of the ancient prohibitions against idolatry was religion itself: "And not just the kind that got people dancing around a golden calf.  It was warning us that no religious system could capture or contain the mystery of God.  Yet in history, that's exactly what many of them would go on to claim.  The Second Commandment was an early warning that the organizations that claimed to speak for God would become God's greatest rivals, the most dangerous idol of them all."
The commandment about idolatry would save us from our besetting sin of presumption: "You shall not misuse the name of the Lord." 
...The third commandment about the name of God warns us not only about our casual presumptions. It reminds us of the limits of human language when we speak about the Wholly Other God. CS Lewis captures the practical implications of this in his Footnote to All Prayers.
He whom I bow to only knows to whom I bow
When I attempt the ineffable Name, murmuring Thou,
And dream of Pheidian fancies and embrace in heart
Symbols (I know) which cannot be the thing Thou art.
Thus always, taken at their word, all prayers blaspheme
Worshiping with frail images a folk-lore dream,
And all men in their praying, self-deceived, address
The coinage of their own unquiet thoughts, unless
Thou in magnetic mercy to Thyself divert
Our arrows, aimed unskillfully, beyond desert;
And all men are idolaters, crying unheard
To a deaf idol, if Thou take them at their word.
Take not, O Lord, our literal sense. Lord, in thy great
Unbroken speech our limping metaphor translate."
 http://www.journeywithjesus.net/essays/1271-the-most-dangerous-idol-of-them-all

Monday, February 13, 2017

You have heard that it was said (2)

A second haiku sequence

You know it is said
eye for eye and tooth for tooth;
this prolongs the fight!

Jesus says revenge
and payback get you nowhere;
grace is what's needed.

Turn the other cheek.
It's not easy, but opens
the doorway to peace.

Do the things you should.
Let that be your starting point;
then the extra mile.

Love builds empathy,
enhances all of living,
goes beyond duty.

If somebody begs
or asks to borrow money,
do not refuse them.

Life is in giving;
withholding diminishes.
Live generously.

They say, 'love your friends.'
Love your enemies as well,
and pray for them, hat too.

God's loving regard
falls upon all, good and bad.
Try to be like God.

Love those who love you.
Big deal! The ratbags do that.
Jesus calls for more.

Be servants of love,
sons and daughters of heaven.
Here is perfection.


© Ken Rookes 2017

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Choosing Life

"The antitheses are all about choosing life. In this section of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus insists that life is threatened when anger and judgment and insult reign. Life is threatened when women are objectified, merely fulfillment of sexual desire or the carrying on the family name. Women, Jesus insists, are not culture’s for the taking. Life is threatened when women are consistently reduced, even discarded, based on their capacity to satisfy privileged and patriarchal needs and their capacity to bear children. Life is threatened when you do not follow through with oaths you make.
In other words, Jesus is saying that interpreting the law is far more complex than you make it out to be. And if your interpretations lead to death -- the silence of voices, the discounting of the personhood of the other, the disrespect and demeaning of entire groups of people, the labeling (which is a nice way to say calling names) thereby putting people in their place -- then you have to think long and hard about what it means to be a disciple of Jesus.
If “choose life” was the test case for what we did and said, the canonical marker, if you will for disciple-speak, we may pause before we lash out in anger and fear. We might take a moment before we label someone pro-life, pro-choice, pro-abortionist, (or anti all of those things). We might stop and think, is what I am about to say and what I am about to do something that would be recognizable as life-giving, life- upholding, life-empowering?
One of my favorite poems of late is one that speaks the truth of our bifurcated world but also the truth of what we as preachers might preach as the alternative: ( "clothesline," poem by Marilyn Maciel) 
i
you
us
them
those people
wouldn’t it be lovely
if one could
live
in a constant state
of we?
some of the most
commonplace
words
can be some of the biggest
dividers
they
what if there was
no they?
what if there
was only
us?
if words could be seen
as they floated out
of our mouths
would we feel no
shame
as they passed beyond
our lips?
if we were to string
our words
on a communal clothesline
would we feel proud
as our thoughts
flapped in the
breeze?
"
http://www.workingpreacher.org/craft.aspx?post=4810

We are called to say "Yes"

We are called to say yes
That the kingdom might break through
To renew and to transform
Our dark and groping world.
We stutter and we stammer
To the lone God who calls
And pleads a new Jerusalem
In the bloodied Sinai Straits.
 
We are called to say yes
That honeysuckle may twine
And twist its smelling leaves
Over the graves of nuclear arms.
We are called to say yes
That black may sing with white
And pledge peace and healing
For the hatred of the past.
We are called to say yes
That nations might gather
and dance one great movement
for the joy of humankind.
We are called to say yes
To a God who still holds fast
To the vision of the Kingdom
For a trembling world of pain.
We are called to say yes
To this God who reaches out
And asks us to share
This amazing dream of love.
From Edwina Gateley, There Was No Path So I Trod One (Sheed and Ward, 1996, 2013).

Monday, February 6, 2017

You have heard that it was said (1)

A haiku sequence,


Going beyond law.
You have heard that it was said;
but I say to you.

You shall not murder;
but anger with a brother
also is a sin.

Insult a sister
or call a brother “you fool,”
this will bring judgement.

Don't attend worship
if you have caused an offence;
first be reconciled.

If you are accused
don't wait 'til it gets to court,
sort it out before.

No adultery,
but even looking with lust
damages the heart.

If your hand or eye
leads you astray, discard it.
Live with truth and grace.

Do not swear falsely;
better still, don't swear at all.
Stick with 'yes' and 'no.'

He rewrote the law,
calling forth our better selves;
for the sake of love.


© Ken Rookes 2017

Friday, February 3, 2017

ode to salt

This salt
in the salt cellar
I once saw in the salt mines.
I know
you won't
believe me
but
it sings
salt sings, the skin
of the salt mines
sings
with a mouth smothered
by the earth.
I shivered in those
solitudes
when I heard
the voice
of
the salt
in the desert.
Near Antofagasta
the nitrous
pampa
resounds:
a
broken
v oice,
a mournful
song.

In its caves
the salt moans, mountain
of buried light,
translucent cathedral,
crystal of the sea, oblivion
of the waves.
And then on every table
in the world,
salt,
we see your piquant
powder
sprinkling
vital light
upon
our food.
Preserver
of the ancient
holds of ships,
discoverer
on
the high seas,
earliest
sailor
of the unknown, shifting
byways of the foam.
Dust of the sea, in you
the tongue receives a kiss
from ocean night:
taste imparts to every seasoned
dish your ocean essence;
the smallest,
miniature
wave from the saltcellar
reveals to us
more than domestic whiteness;
in it, we taste infinitude.