Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Responsive Prayer on Psalm 23

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want;
We believe in the goodness of God.
We believe God hears and responds to our needs.
We believe God responds to all people everywhere.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters, he restores my soul.
We are grateful that we’ve been blessed with enough water.
But we know that many do not have enough.
Not enough water, not enough food, not enough peace.
He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Too many people do not see God’s righteousness.
Too many children watch violence, taste hunger, feel fear.
Too many children cry from the unspeakable horror of war.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil; for thou art with me;
thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.
To become involved is risky. Pain is often contagious.
Our hearts may be broken and our lives may be threatened.
Yet we hear God calling and we can no longer hide.
Thou preparest a table for me in the presence of my enemies;
thou annointest me head with oil, my cup overflows.
Our steps may be small and timid.
We may read a book, write a letter, or make a gift.
But each tiny step is blessed by God and multiplies.
Surely goodness and mercy
shall follow me all the days of my life;
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
God is more relentless than war.
God is more pervasive than hatred.
God is more insistent than despair.
Amen. Amen.
Based on Psalm 23. Written for the Union Church UCC of Tekonsha, 1994.
Katherine Hawker

The good shepherd

This is probably more the good shepherd image that Jesus had in mind rather than our romanticised version.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Good shepherd Jesus

haiku for sheep

Good shepherd Jesus
looks with love upon his sheep,
gives himself for them.

No paid employee;
his commitment to his flock
is deep and caring.

He won’t run away
when things get tough and scary,
like when the wolves come.

A fine metaphor,
this shepherd-sheep partnership.
Jesus and his friends.

I know my own well,
and they know me; listening
to the things I say.

Lots of diff’rent sheep
in lots of diff’rent places:
all belong to me.

There will be one flock,
there will be one shepherd, too.
God’s love will shape us.

I lay down my life
for my sheep, then take it up,
to share risen life.

© Ken Rookes 2018

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

They thought him a fool

"Did you notice Easter Day this year was April Fools Day’. Apart from a few jokes I almost missed it. But it was rich for imagining. Traditionally on April Fools day in medieval life the King took off his crown and stepped down from his throne. And the Fool, a wise but questioning figure, put the crown on and sat on the throne for a day. I wonder what decisions such a wise fool might have come up with.

Today we might see Jesus as a ‘fool figure’, who goes onto his throne - on the cross. And, with that, tips everything upside down.

Isn’t Mary Magdalene , with Peter , calling us to join this crowd of fools who see the world upset?

So that’s the way it is. We are called to take the risk of being members of the foolish community willing to act in foolish ways, in the name of our crucified Lord, who wants our allegiance, - ready to resist the powers that want us for heartless, uncaring, unjust, brutal ways. He comes to us in the crowd of strangers, war victims, refugees, abused and starving children, sufferers of mental illness and homeless.

He wants us to recognise him there as he fosters gentle life- giving lives and hearts.

As children of God, we are called to give up securities and fixed orders and doing things as we have ‘always done them’ – into an experiment of hope that looks, waits and acts for the radically renewing life of our risen Lord."

Rev Dr Wes Campbell
For full sermon see sermons 2 page

Monday, April 9, 2018

They thought him a ghost

Haiku of wonder

They thought him a ghost
when the risen Jesus came
and stood among them.

They were terrified,
did not know how to react:
hardly surprising.

He reassured them
with his words of peace, as if
all was quite normal.

Showing them his hands
and his feet; he ate some fish.
See, I’m just like you.

He died, we saw him
buried, along with our hopes;
and yet now he lives!

Joy and disbelief,
a clumsy combination;
how to deal with it?

Remember the words
that I spoke in your presence;
they make sense of it.

The law of Moses,
the words found in the prophets,
they all point to me.

It is written thus,
the Messiah must suffer,
and rise the third day.

Go, proclaim the Christ,
his life and his forgiveness.
Be my witnesses.

© Ken Rookes 2018

Monday, April 2, 2018

An elusive figure

Haiku for us sceptics

The risen Jesus
is an elusive figure:
now you see him. . .

From behind closed doors,
according to the story,
he appeared to them.

His greeting of peace
was not quite enough, so he
showed his hands and side.

He breathed upon them.
Receive the Holy Spirit:
go out and forgive.

Thomas was absent,
didn’t believe the reports.
I must see his wounds.

What is there to see;
what evidence sufficient
to bring us to faith?

Thank you, man of doubts,
Thomas with your questioning;
you speak for me, too.

Risen Lord Jesus,
present with those who question,
be patient with me.

What more can I say?
Should ev’ry story be told
they would fill volumes.

These have been written
that you might know God, have faith,
and life in his name.

© Ken Rookes 2018

Sunday, April 1, 2018


Haiku of recognition

A couple of hours
to Emmaus; much talking
trying to make sense.

Two friends, followers;
their hopes had been swept away
when their master died.

The stranger caught up.
What are you talking about
as you walk the road?

How come you don’t know;
where have you been these days past?
The fear and turmoil.

We had been hoping
that he might be God’s promised;
and then he was killed.

Three days have now passed.
Some women went to the tomb;
his body was gone.

It’s got us flummoxed;
we don’t know what to believe;
not sure what to think.

It isn’t so hard.
What do the prophets tell us?
The Christ must suffer.

Starting with Moses,
and picking up the prophets,
he explained it all.

When they reached their house
it was getting dark. Stay here;
spend the night with us.

At table that night
he blessed the bread and broke it.
They recognised him.

Then he disappeared.
They were amazed, rejoicing.
Did not our hearts burn?

© Ken Rookes 2018

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

On Belief in the Physical Resurrection of Jesus

On Belief in the Physical Resurrection of Jesus
by Denise Levertov
It is for all
'literalists of the imagination,'
poets or not,
that miracle
is possible and essential.
Are some intricate minds
nourished on concept,
as epiphytes flourish
high in the canopy?
Can they
subsist on the light,
on the half
of metaphor that's not
grounded in dust, grit,
carnal clay?
Do signs contain and utter,
for them
all the reality
that they need? Resurrection, for them,
an internal power, but not
a matter of flesh?
For the others,
of whom I am one,
miracles (ultimate need, bread
of life,) are miracles just because
people so tuned
to the humdrum laws:
gravity, mortality-
can't open
to symbol's power
unless convinced of its ground,
its roots
in bone and blood.
We must feel
the pulse in the wound
to believe
that 'with God
all things
are possible,'
bread at Emmaus
that warm hands
broke and blessed.

Monday, March 26, 2018

The Sabbath had passed

Haiku of hope and celebration.

The sabbath had passed,
here they come with tearful eyes
to tend his body.

Three of the women,
bring their spices to the tomb
along with their love.

The sun had risen,
the darkness was at its end:
lots of metaphors.

Of the entrance stone
they questioned each other: Who
will roll it away?

The tomb was open,
the stone already rolled back!
Nothing to stop them!

Entering the tomb
there is nothing to be seen;
at least no body.

A man, dressed in white
with his most puzzling words;
Do not be alarmed!

Jesus? He’s not here.
There is the place they laid him;
he’s been raised to life.

Go inform his friends!
The women flee in terror
and keep their mouths shut.

© Ken Rookes

Friday, March 23, 2018

The things that make for peace

""He shall judge between the nations and shall decide for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more." That is our Palm Sunday hope, and it is our only hope. That is what the palms and the shouting are all about. That is what all our singing and worshiping and preaching and praying are all about if they are about anything that matters. The hope that finally by the grace of God the impossible will happen. The hope that Pilate will take him by one hand and Caiaphas by the other, and the Roman soldiers will throw down their spears and the Sanhedrin will bow their heads. The hope that by the power of the Holy Spirit, by the love of Christ, who is Lord of the impossible, the leaders of the enemy nations will draw back, while there is still time for drawing back, from a vision too terrible to name. The hope that you and I also, each in our own puny but crucial way, will work and witness and pray for the things that make for peace, true peace, both in our own lives and in the life of this land."
excerpt from a sermon by Frederick Buechner, 'The things that make for peace'.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

The greatest irony ....

"Hailing Jesus as Messiah was dangerous and open to misunderstanding. The passion is about one who was executed as ‘king of the Jews’, made to wear a crown of thorns, mocked as a king, set between other revolutionaries and made subject of barter with Barabbas. Irony is at work. John is fond of having people state the truth without knowing it. Here they hail Jesus as Messiah, probably for all the wrong reasons, just as the crowds did whom Jesus fed in the desert in 6:14-15. The ears of faith know however that in a different sense what they say is true.

It is all part of the greatest irony of all: the true king, the true Messiah, the great human being and Son of God, is a collapsed figure on a cross. Compassion and lowliness confront human images of power and success. The ‘failure’ of Jesus is his success. His truth is faithfulness to love and compassion without bowing to compromise which would betray himself and others. Even though asses were not necessarily bottom of the range in public transport, the image of Jesus on the foal of an ass does depict lowliness."
William Loader

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

The last day

Haiku of the passion

Lord, we are your friends;
You’re everything to us:
we’d never betray.

You’ll all desert me,
but don’t dwell on these failures.
There is always hope.

Even you, Peter,
so stop your protestations;
you will deny me.

Take my body-bread,
this wine, red like my bleeding;
my life, shared for you.

Facing his fears
while his weary friends sleep on;
praying all alone.

Jesus is betrayed,
arrested and put on trial.
There is one outcome.

Who are you, Jesus?
Are you the king that some claim,
the promised from God?

It has been settled.
He walks to the killing place
where his cross awaits.

They laugh and they mock,
they taunt him as he hangs there,
silent, accepting.

His work is complete.
He takes his final breath, sighs,
and lets it all go.

© Ken Rookes 2018

Monday, March 19, 2018

The entrance

Haiku for an arrival

Near Jerusalem
he sent the two disciples
to fetch the donkey.

An unridden colt
was his chosen conveyance;
perfect for a king.

They shout in welcome
and wave their leafy branches;
Jesus, we want you!

They shout, Hosanna!
Hosanna, Son of David!
How political!

He rode into town,
took a look at the temple.
It was getting late.

Back to Bethany
he retreated with the twelve
and the moment passed.

© Ken Rookes 2018

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

On remembering and Forgetting

Please visit the Sermons 2 page to see Rev Dr Wes Campbell's latest sermon "On remembering and forgetting."
 With this talk of remembering we are brought into the experience of forgetting, forgetfulness, dementia. The recalling of the texts as we have heard today will be less possible for those who are now forgetting. Some will continue to connect with hymns and other music or reading favourit stories. action.
Notice that there are two experiences here:
one for the person whose memory is being lost and lose a sense of self.,
the other for those who live with and see the effect of forgetfulness in their partner or other loved one.
Thinking about this from the side of Jesus there are two experiences here too.

First, Jesus went into the darkness alone . He died. He  did not ‘experience his own death. The dead Son was in the darkness with others threatened by death.The Son  died.

Second,  His Father experienced his death. And the Spirit carried the death of the Son to the Father, who grieves his Son.
Does that speak to the forgetting of dementia? Will it give resources for us to live through this experience? Will we together share memories as we remind each other.?

Those whose memories are now fragile or lost may nevertheless take confidence that they are known and remembered by the Spirit of life, and their loved ones..
When memories disappear for the carer, let the community of Christ gather, surround all those affected by love, and embrace them with care that springs from the eternal life of God. Let the reading aloud of Scripture draw us into the Story of God’s care for us.
We will be able to share life with others, in spite of dementia.
When the confusion has passed for the forgetter, there is still the confusion and questioning in the one who remembers. Those who are partners and carers will not forget; they will experience the distance that grows between them and their partner.
.May they (may you) likewise receive the consolation and comfort of the community of Christ and his meal.
The word of comfort here is offered in the figure of Jesus, our brother, who went into the darkness of being removed from us, into darkness and death, and is with us in the darkness. There his promise of eternal life offers his deep and unending care for all, won for us in cross and resurrection.  
Simply put, in all this, we are in the company of him who came, not to condemn but to give his life for the world. 

May we remember his gift of life to us, so that we may find in him that which generates new life here and now, and entrust ourselves to him who is both beginning and end for the world."
Rev Dr Wes Campbell

Monday, March 12, 2018

For this reason

Haiku for those who seek

Some Greeks found Philip,
knew he was a follower,
asked to see Jesus.

Jesus met with them,
laid it out straight and simple;
The seed has to die.

To be made fruitful
the grain of wheat is buried
and dies to itself.

The same for us all;
if you want to save your life,
you must give it up.

Become my servant.
You must follow after me
to the hard places

My soul is troubled,
not looking forward to it:
the coming hour.

Should I entreat God
to spare the pain and dying?
No, it’s why I came.

The voice from heaven:
God’s name has been glorified
and will be again.

As he is lifted
Jesus changes ev’rything,
restores creation.

© Ken Rookes 2018

Thursday, March 8, 2018

some pastoral implications of the feeding of the crowds


"Bread is given by Jesus to bind his followers together. The great irony is that bread of certain sorts can produce pain and inflammation. It has led to a practice in the Lord’s Supper of offering two or more sorts of bread, gluten free, for example.  That might be seen as an accommodation of the sufferer of gluten. But the symbol of unity is lost. Far better is that we acknowledge the sick among us (as Jesus did) and find bread that can be shared by all in the congregation and, preferably, a bread that is wholesome, tasty and (like the Orthodox Christians) made with yeast so the dough rises.

A second pastoral implication of the feeding of 5000 and 4000 suggests itself: Jesus feeds the entire crowd, women and children, with the numbered men. The feedings are a sign of unity. So, we of the Uniting Church in Australia would do well to revisit our worship practice when it comes to bread: generous, and a frequent ‘breaking of the bread’ (as in the Acts of the Apostles), and so become a sign to our divided humanity of a meal of peace. If peacemakers are blessed, so Jesus’ companions are also to bear the unity he offers. Think globally, and as we act locally we are Christ’s witnesses. Something similar may be said about the sharing of the cup. It is time for us to share one common cup from which all at the meal drink from the same cup. The Lord Jesus who offers his cup, asks us to take the risk of eating and drinking together, even those called enemy.

A third implication is this: Jesus who feeds the crowds is one who feeds all humanity, and does this by beginning with the desolate poor. As Jesus’ followers, we are also called to stand with the poor, to be in solidarity with those whose humanity is smashed, as in warfare (in Syria, for example, and Afghanistan), and who are torn from their homes seeking asylum in other lands, like Australia. Support of refugees is not just a political issue; it is the claim Jesus puts on us in our sisters and brothers who seek our welcome, a readiness to share our bread (food and money), just as Jesus calls us to eat at his table.
So as we commit to preparing for Easter in some form of Lenten discipline, remember that Jesus asks us to receive the free gift of bread, and with it free grace; with that he calls us to long for justice, and so to live for the new world God is making."
Rev Dr Wes Campbell

Monday, March 5, 2018


Haiku for those who grope in darkness

In the wilderness
Moses lifted the bronze snake.
The people were healed.

So, too, will Jesus,
the Son of Man sent from God
be elevated.

Of the Father’s love
Jesus is sent, precious gift
bringing us true life.

He came, grace-laden,
embodying forgiveness.
No one is condemned.

There are those who hide,
preferring darkness to light;
judgement awaits them.

Blankets of darkness
drape heavy to hide evil.
Light is cast aside.

It’s all about light,
truth, hope, love; made incarnate.
Light shines, defiant.

Their deeds are in God,
those who seek to serve the truth.
Come, embrace the Light.

© Ken Rookes 2018.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

religious and spiritual

"Jesus’ cleansing of the temple – we might call it “occupying the temple” – is spiritual theatre.  In turning over the tables, Jesus is calling his religious tradition to be both “religious and spiritual,” that is, to become liberated from consumerism, power, polarization, and class to embrace the spiritual needs of an oppressed and hopeless people.  While God loves humus, the floors of the temple are not intended to be dung-covered.  Sheep and goats are part of God’s glorious handiwork, but their place is in verdant pastures, not temple floors.  We need to look at our faith and practice and discern those places where we have co-opted by consumerism, self-indulgence, materialism, and power plays.  The beauty of the universe and the wonder of our bodies call us to amazement and gratitude, but also to confession and repentance.
Today’s scriptures invite us to integrate a sense of beauty and emotions of gratitude with personal, congregational, and social self examination.  Do our practices reflect and contribute positively to the beauty of the universe and the ability of small children to join innocence with maturity in growing to be persons of appreciation,faithfulness, integrity, and beauty?  Ifnot, we need to embrace the wonder of Psalm 19 and soak our hearts and minds in the presence of a beautiful God."
Bruce Epperly


cleansing of the temple

I read the cleansing of the temple as a stark warning against any and every false sense of security. Misplaced allegiances, religious presumption, pathetic excuses, smug self-satisfaction, spiritual complacency, nationalist zeal, political idolatry, and economic greed in the name of God are only some of the tables that Jesus would overturn in his own day and in ours. 
-Dan Clendenin
Subtle as a Sledge Hammer: Jesus “Cleanses” the Temple
March 19, 2006 

Monday, February 26, 2018

Behaving recklessly

Haiku for the angry

In Jerusalem
people gather for the feast;
things are heating up.

The Passover nears
time to remember; recall
God’s saving actions.

As is his practice,
Jesus behaves recklessly,
upsets good order.

Goes to the temple,
where he observes the commerce
and money changing.

The man gets angry,
makes a whip from cords of rope,
drives the traders out.

Escaping doves soar,
as tables are overturned.
Coins spill to the floor.

Take them out of here;
these instruments of Mammon
do not lead to life.

Temple is a place
for drawing near, listening,
and worshipping God.

They ask him, What right
do you have to come in here
and to do these things?

Destroy this temple
and I’ll raise it in three days.
Another riddle.

© Ken Rookes 2018.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Those who lose their life

Haiku for disciples

He taught many things.
Pay attention, disciples,
you have most to learn.

He will suffer much,
the Son of Man; he will die,
killed by the bosses.

They reject his words,
fearing that they pose a threat
to their ordered world.

He spoke of his death,
and of his resurrection.
His friends can’t grasp it.

Hardly surprising.
Peter said, Don’t say these things,
they disconcert us.

Jesus spoke sternly:
Just because you don’t get it,
doesn’t mean it’s wrong.

To follow, he said,
You too must embrace my death;
lose your life for me.

Take up your cross.
Don’s, t be frightened, or ashamed.
You might just find life.

Hold life too tightly
and you’ll find it disappears.
Learn to let it go.

© Ken Rookes 2018

Thursday, February 15, 2018


Ministered to by angles

James Tissot: Jesus ministered to by angels

Australian Wilderness

a perhaps pertinent poem for an Australian Lent.

A Nation of trees, drab green and desolate grey
In the field uniform of modern wars,
Darkens her hills, those endless, outstretched paws
Of Sphinx demolished or stone lion worn away.

They call her a young country, but they lie:
She is the last of lands, the emptiest,
A woman beyond her change of life, a breast
Still tender but within the womb is dry.

Without songs, architecture, history:
The emotions and superstitions of younger lands,
Her rivers of water drown among inland sands,
The river of her immense stupidity

Floods her monotonous tribes from Cairns to Perth.
In them at last the ultimate men arrive
Whose boast is not: 'we live' but 'we survive',
A type who will inhabit the dying earth.

And her five cities, like five teeming sores,
 Each drains her: a vast parasite robber-state
Where second-hand Europeans pullulate
Timidly on the edge of alien shores.

Yet there are some like me turn gladly home
From the lush jungle of modern thought, to find
The Arabian desert of the human mind, -
Hoping, if still from the deserts the prophets come,

Such savage and scarlet as no green hills dare
Springs in that waste, some spirit which escapes
The learned doubt, the chatter of cultured apes
Which is called civilization over there.

- A. D, HOPE

Monday, February 12, 2018


Haiku of commencement

Mark takes up his pen
to write upon the parchment:
Jesus makes a start.

Departs Nazareth,
leaves the family behind.
South to the Jordan.

Finds the Baptiser,
raises his hand, comes on down;
Baptise me too, John.

As he emerges
dripping wet from the water
the Spirit descends.

Does the voice boom loud,
or is it a mere whisper:
My beloved son.

The Spirit takes charge,
drives him into wilderness;
a place for testing.

A time for praying.
Forty days of questioning;
forty days of doubts.

The days pass. He comes,
back to his people, convinced,
now, of his calling.

The time is fulfilled,
God’s kingdom is drawing near.
Good news: trust in it.

© Ken Rookes 2018

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Angels in the wilderness

This edition of the River of Life we are focussing on the journey towards Easter that we call Lent. Our scripture at the beginning of that Lenten journey is the Gospel story Jesus in the wilderness (often called the Temptation). This story has always been one of my favourites in scripture. It is full of danger and temptation, but underneath it all it is a story about the quest for meaning. Jesus is being faced with the core question that faces us all… ‘How will we spend our life?’ The temptation story is full of power and passion, danger and potential violence. The story in Mark only rates one verse but we are familiar with the expanded versions in the other gospels which make it clear that in the wilderness he faced the darkness of the world embodied in the Devil or ‘the Tempter’. And so in Lent we have often also focussed on our own temptations and out own darkness. Yet in all these years of reading about Jesus in the wilderness I missed the angels!
Jesus spends a self-imposed, agonising time of self-examinatio
n in the wilderness but he is accompanied not only by his lonely questions but he is also attended by angels. In fact in our version from Mark the angels are just as present as Satan. Unlike the other gospel writers Mark rarely refers to angels at all yet they are important in this story. Lent can be a time to take stock of our lives, to come clean about the things that tempt us and the things that scare us. It can be a very helpful time of self-examination but in the midst of this deep time the angels are a reminder that we are not alone. God promises to be with us in the wild, lonely places of our lives and God promises to bring us blessing out of these deep times.
I must say also that many people regard parts of our beautiful presbytery as being wilderness. For me Loddon Mallee contains a lot of wild open spaces, big wonderful skies and vast horizons and, if we choose to accept it, spaces to reflect and be. And that our Presbytery is ministered to by angels I have no doubt. I meet them all the time, but I need eyes and a heart to know them. I invite you to make this Lent a time to recount the angels you have known and the ones who currently attend you, the ones who attend you in your wilderness times. I read an article recently that referred to the angels, in the words of William Sloan Coffin, as the one who remind us that there "is more grace in God than sin in us."
So this Lent I invite you use the time as a time for an inner journey of reflection and the search for meaning, but be reminded that in doing so that you too, like Jesus, are being ministered to by angels, both human and Divine.
Rev Gordon Bannon
painting by Cheryle Bannon at

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

transfiguration colouring


Quite a few years ago i visited Israel and, as a part of that pilgrimage, i went to the Church of the Transfiguration on Mount Tabor. It is a beautiful place set on a mountaintop from which you you can see for miles over the surrounding plains. the church itself is quite stunning, full of gold and blue mosaics. It shines! 
On reflecting upon the Transfiguration story this year i have been deliberating on our own transfigurations. Like many aspects of Jesus person-hood, we are not called just to stand by in awe at Christ, but to be Christ-like. When Jesus was transfigured, the story tells us that he was shown as his own true self, in all his truth and beauty. So, i am called by the transfiguration to be open to my true self. I am called to know myself as God knows me and to be transfigured by that knowledge. I guess when I imagine myself as God knows me I usually think of only my shadow and darkness. This story calls me take the more challenging path of seeing the beauty, divine light and creativity within me and in others around me and so to be transfigured. The story also calls me to be a Divine agent by having the loving eyes of God and seeing the beauty and light in others. So perhaps transfiguration is not just a pretty story about Jesus. It's about us. 
Rev Gordon Bannon

Monday, February 5, 2018

Just Jesus

Haiku of bedazzlement

Upon a mountain
a man with his closest friends,
seeking some answers.

A lighting display
worthy of the harbour bridge
on new year’s eve.

They gasp in wonder,
dazzled, those three companions;
what does it all mean?

Two guests from the past,
Elijah stands with Moses,
prophet stands with law.

Its all about light,
from above, in our darkness,
shining hope and love.

In the cloud of light,
the voice of affirmation;
he will be the one.

Fade to normal light.
They are alone, just Jesus
standing with his friends.

Once more to the plain
they descend with their master.
Tell no-one; for now!

© Ken Rookes 2018.

Monday, January 29, 2018

the Mysteries of prayer

"For those of us who like to earn our way, or prove ourselves to God, ourselves, and to others, it's hard to do nothing at all but accept God's love. Edwina Gateley's beautiful poem is full of wise advice:
Be silent.
Be still.
Before your God.
Say nothing.
Ask nothing.
Be silent.
Be still.
Let your God look upon you.
That is all.
God knows.
God understands.
God loves you
With an enormous love,
And only wants
To look upon you
With that love.
Let your God—
Love you.
           Yes, God is infinite and Wholly Other, and therein lie the mysteries of prayer. But in his own prayers Jesus reminds us that God is also intimate, like a Loving Father.
           To experience God's love is the true end of all true prayer.
           Paul prays for the Ephesians that, "being rooted and established in love, you may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge — that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God."
           And so, says the English mystic Juliana of Norwich (1342–1416), "the greatest honor we can give Almighty God is to live gladly because of the knowledge of his love.""

Make him a wonder worker

Haiku for establishing credentials

Jesus the teacher
spoke of forgiveness and love;
the way to true life

Forget other stuff;
love and generosity
create peace and hope.

His words of promise
bring great joy to hungry hearts.
They make him welcome.

But words are one thing:
make him a wonder worker
to prove he is God.

In bed with fever,
Simon’s wife’s mother is ill;
Jesus makes her well.

They came that ev’ning,
the sick and the troubled ones;
all of the city.

Jesus had pity.
He looked on them with mercy,
healed and blessed them all.

On to other towns;
his words must be spread widely.
This is why he came.

Peace and grace abound;
God’s undistinguishing love
is for all people.

© Ken Rookes 2018.

Monday, January 22, 2018

What have you to do with us?

Haiku of authority

At Capernaum
he entered the synagogue,
and taught the people.

They were astounded
he spoke with authority;
most unusual.

A man most troubled,
(an unclean spirit, they said),
cried out in anguish.

His question was good:
What have you to do with us?
We wonder the same.

He does not answer.
Speaks firmly, commands silence,
casts the spirit out.

Now they are amazed.
His word has authority;
what’s its origin?

From where has he come?
The speculations mount up;
his fame increases.

© Ken Rookes 2018.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Jonah's hard way

Several years ago Michael Lerner wrote a book called “The Politics of Meaning.” Lerner said that too often we give up on our deepest held values of compassion, caring and community because they do not seem practical in the real world. Instead, an ethos of selfishness and materialism prevails by default. These are the values that we settle for when our deeper values seem out of reach. Selfishness and materialism erode community and make it less possible to live the life we want. It puts us more out of purpose. Jonah’s way seems easier at first, but in the end we will get thrown overboard and end up in the belly of the whale.
And so we lose our perspective so easily on what God is really calling us to.
In the church there is a relentless battle for the orthodox high ground. Baptists, Methodists, Lutherans and Presbyterians don their traditional  denominational colors to joust back and forth.
The most contentious issues relate to baptism (when and how), the nature of biblical inspiration and authority, the limits of the atonement, the creation debate, not to mention sexuality .
Somebody said of Church people that “we would rather be right than nice,".
While I'm not sure being a Christian equates with "nice," the point is well-taken. Although Paul maintains that while faith, hope and love abide, "the greatest of these is love," I believe that many Protestants have decided that the greatest of these is actually faith—as in "orthodoxy" of one sort or another—and that little else matters, least of all incarnation.

S.T. Kimbrough suggests that evangelism is increasingly difficult not because our pluralism, consumerism or attention span makes us resistant, but because we fail to incarnate the love we preach. We can't persuade others that we are people of peace because there is so much strife and contention among us—and we are often more eager to be right, or to win, than to be loving. We offer forensic invitations to discipleship—come think like us—instead of a mutually transforming hospitality: come be with us; let's learn together.