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.