Friday, December 29, 2017

but at a cost

but at a cost

The three-fold terror of love: a fallen flare
Through the hollow of an ear;
Wings beating about the room
The terror of all terrors that I bore
The Heavens in my womb.
Had I not found content among the shows
Every common woman knows,
Chimney corner, garden walk,
Or rocky cistern where we tread the clothes
And gather all the talk?
What is this flesh I purchased with my pains,
This fallen star my milk sustains,
This love that makes my heart's blood stop
Or strikes a sudden chill into my bones
And bids my hair stand up?
-W.B. Yeats 1865-1939

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

The old people sing

Haiku of fulfilment

Old people hang out
in churches and in temples;
watching and waiting.

Something might happen.
You never know, it might be
the day God appears.

Righteous and devout,
old Simeon was patient;
he would see the Christ.

His words erupted!
This child, he would be the one;
light and salvation!

The old man blessed them.
It is enough, I’ve seen him
Let me go now, God.

He spoke to Mary.
There will arise much turmoil
on the road to peace.

Anna, the prophet,
saw the child, raised her old voice,
and joined in the song.

Wisdom and insight
come not just with the years,
but with openness.

© Ken Rookes 2017.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

The new place of Christians at Christmas

This echoes my sentiments and the whole article is worth a read.

"There's no doubting the church has been a mixed bag over the centuries. My own experience as "the son of a preacher man" was one where I saw up close the best and the worst of the church community — the charlatans, the crazies and, yes, the ones you knew to avoid as a kid. But I also saw lives of undeniable beauty and grace and joy. These were unheralded, and in many ways unspectacular, lives of women and men whose commitment to caring for others, especially the unfortunate, left a lasting impression.

That's not everyone's experience of course. But it's with that memory that I will recall the baby born in a stable this year, with all the mystery and profound promise that he carries. To my mind that remains the best antidote around to Christmas-induced anxiety, stress and disappointment"

Saturday, December 23, 2017

When the song of the Angels is stilled

When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,
The Work of Christmas begins: To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among brothers and sisters,
To make music in the heart.
Then indeed we shall be blessed!  

Howard Thurman:

A subeversive gift of Peace

In the Christ child born in poverty in a stable the divine brings a subversive gift; 
The gift of a powerless baby where the world demanded a king, 
the gift of vulnerability and innocence where the world wanted a warrior and justice, 
the gift of peace where the world was preparing for war.
And what I like in this story is the presumption that the gift of peacemaking is ordinary 
and in all of us. We are all princes/princess of peace, 
we all have the divine child of hope within, 
and the gift of Christmas becomes the turning of swords into ploughshares.
(Rev G Bannon)

John the baptiser

Original painting by Rev Dr Wes Cambell
used with permission

Wednesday, December 20, 2017


haiku for losing control

As the story goes
Augustus and his minions
decreed the counting.

A census gives us
the needed information
to order our world.

Numbering people,
keeping control and power,
imposing taxes.

The count brings the man,
along with his pregnant bride
south to Bethlehem.

But in this baby
God upends all creation;
here is the promise.

Humble mum and dad,
common tradesman and his wife;
folk the same as us.

Find them a stable,
a shelter for giving birth.
How appropriate.

No fancy cradle;
he can sleep in a feed trough,
there among the straw.

Invite some shepherds,
poor and lowly witnesses;
they’ll proclaim his birth.

Something about God
spurning grandeur and power;
these are good stories.

© Ken Rookes 2017.

Monday, December 18, 2017


Haiku of wonder

In these ancient tales
unexpected pregnancies
convey the wonder.

God, they assure us,
is at last doing something
to sort the world out.

An agéd woman
has managed to conceive, now
it’s her cousin’s turn.

The angel’s busy
conveying surprising news.
The girl is nonplussed.

Do not be afraid!
Easy to say, Gabriel;
it isn’t your womb!

You will bear a son.
You’ll call him Jesus. He will
do amazing things!

That, we know is true.
We will follow his story;
we will follow him.

Her fears overcome,
the girl agrees, allowing
events to proceed.

Only Luke gives us
these strange announcement stories,
stretching the waiting.

We’re left to ponder:
is wonder the same as truth;
and does it matter?

© Ken Rookes 2017.

Monday, December 11, 2017

His name was John

Haiku of promise.

His name was John
He pointed to light; shining,
challenging the dark.

Down beside the creek
he spoke of revolution.
People sought him out.

A man sent from God.
The leaders came to see him:
Who the heck are you?

If you’re not the Christ
are you Elijah; are you
some other prophet?

I am a loud voice,
lonely, crying in the dark:
Make straight the Lord’s path.

Why do you baptise;
you are not the Messiah?
No, but he is here.

I’m using water,
he who comes will do much more;
wait, watch and see!

© Ken Rookes 2017.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Prepare the way

Haiku of expectation

The brutal powers
wink smugly, worship Mammon,
plan their victory.

John the baptiser
stands tall and immovable,
prophet for us all.

Hear the earth weeping,
as she waits for her offspring
to remember love.

Something might happen
if we want it hard enough.
Make yourself ready.

The messenger comes
sent to speak God’s awkward truth,
to prepare the way.

One is soon to come.
He brings a word of hope, life,
not to mention love.

Far greater than I;
in him the heavens draw near
with the Spirit’s kiss.

We need more prophets;
women unafraid of truth,
men who make a stand.

They won’t be silenced.
Like the master they follow
they’re driven by love.

Make the pathways straight
for the one who brings true life,
who makes all things new.

© Ken Rookes 2017.

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; ...