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.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Cast your nets with me

Haiku for risk takers

The time is fulfilled
and the kingdom has come near.

Turn your life around,
put your trust in the good news:
find life, hope and love!

Hear, fisherpeople,
and all who toil and struggle;
your labour bears fruit!

Cast your nets with me,
gather what is true and good.
In the name of love.

The kingdom awaits,
as do all the aching hearts.
Come, travel with me.

Leave your boats and nets.
Bring a heart that is open,
a soul that is true.

Which way will we go,
and where will we sleep at night?
He gives no answer.

He looks upon them,
repeats the invitation:
Come and follow me!

© Ken Rookes 2018.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

under the trees

This week's lectionary reading is another of many scripture stories that feature people under or in trees. This week Jesus makes a reference to having seen Nathaniel under the fig tree (a scripture reference allusion to Micah 4:4 "everyone beneath their vine and fig tree). by this reference Jesus relates him to the messianic prophecies and to the Divine. In Micah and in this gospel reference the the tree is a sign of the presence of God.
I am reminded of Elijah sitting under the tree in the wilderness and finding rest and sustenance, of Adam and Eve with the trees of life and of the knowledge of good and evil, of Jonah enjoying the shade of the tree whilst he looked over Ninevah, of Zaccheus taking to a tree to see Jesus and of the trees in the midst of the garden in the center of the New Jerusalem.
And i know that when i sit under a tree and take time, that i am taken closer to the source of all Life and the Ground of my being. Perhaps what Jesus was saying about Nathaniel was that he was a person who took the time to sit under trees, and therefore saw him as a reflective and prayerful man who valued time with God.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

under the fig tree

"Here is a Jewish Roots clue.  The term "under the fig tree" is an ancient Jewish idiom that means studying the messianic prophecies.  The idiom stems from Micah 4:4, in a passage describing the future messianic kingdomEach of them will sit under his vine, and under his fig tree.
...Our first clue to the fact that Nathanael was a scholar of the messianic prophecies is his comment regarding Nazareth.  He knew that scripture clearly taught that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem, but wasn't so sure about the Nazareth connection.

[The prophecy regarding Nazareth is a bit more hidden (Isaiah 11:1 speaks of the branch, which is netzer in Hebrew, and the town of Nazareth, (netzret in Hebrew), means "branch town").]

When Yeshua first spoke to Nathanael, He was referencing the second part of Isaiah 53:9:
Because He had done no violence,
Nor was any deceit in His mouth.

Yeshua was not calling Nathanael righteous. Yeshua was quoting the very prophecy that Nathanael had been studying, in order to emphasize that He Himself was the Messiah."

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

We stopped listening

Haiku for the respectable

We stopped listening
to Jesus some years ago.
His words were too hard.

We much prefer wealth
and power and influence.
We vote for Mammon.

We like the idea
of being known as Christians,
just not the method.

He said Love Neighbour
but failed to clearly define
the limits to love.

We believe in love.
We do our bit. The failure
must lie somewhere else.

We like the concept
of justice. We just don’t think
we should bear the cost.

One thing that he said:
The poor are always with you.
We agree with that.

Some people languish
behind gates and barbed wire.
Nought to do with us.

We do not much like
the idea of grace, unless
applied to ourselves.

We are deserving,
unlike the many who aren’t.
Jesus rewards us.

We are disciples,
following our Lord Jesus,
anchored to the ground.

© Ken Rookes 2018

This poem doesn't respond  to a specific lectionary  reading. Perhaps it responds to a number of gospel passages.

Monday, January 8, 2018

I saw you

Haiku of surprising discovery

Hey, comrade Philip,
you’re the man I’m looking for:
come and follow me!

Having met Jesus,
Philip went to find his friend:
Come, meet the teacher!

Could he be the one
the prophets told us about;
the one sent from God?

Nazareth, you say?
How could the Messiah come
from that backwater?

Ah, Nathanael,
I’m very pleased to meet you;
such an honest man!

I’ve never met you,
Jesus, and yet you know me?
Very impressive!

I had a vision.
You sat beneath a fig tree
as Philip approached.

Rabbi, I’m seeing
God’s Son, and Israel’s King.
Teacher, you’re the man!

Give me your answer!
Come, join us on the journey;
you’ll find so much more.

© Ken Rookes 2018.

Monday, January 1, 2018

My name is John

Haiku for beginning

Give me camel’s hair,
leather belt around my waist;
feed me with locusts.

Give me a loud voice
enough to shake foundations.
Feed me wild honey

Find me at the creek
with the rocks and croaking frogs.
Water is my home.

Put away your sins;
the darkness in your living.
Let’s wash it away.

Come and be baptised.
Show that you are eager, keen
to begin anew.

One comes after me.
He will do much more than I.
He brings the Spirit.

. . . .

He came from up north
to meet John at the Jordan.
Baptise me, comrade.

The heavens opened
with the voice of approval.
The Spirit came down.

© Ken Rookes 2018.