Monday, December 31, 2018

Wise men from the East


Wise men from the East
Haiku of adoration

Wise men from the East,
so an old story tells us,
came seeking a king.

A child has been born
who will rule over Judah;
we have seen his star.

In Jerusalem
they make their inquiries.
Herod is alarmed.

Those who have power
become anxious at the thought
that they might lose it.

Calling a meeting
of the chief priests and the scribes,
Herod seeks answers.

Bethlehem, they say.
According to the prophet,
Bethlehem’s the place.

Go to Bethlehem,
and when you do find the child
come, report to me.

They locate the boy,
bow down in adoration,
and give him their gifts.

Gold for a king’s crown
frankincense to worship him,
myrrh for his dying.

Proving their wisdom
the men, having found the child,
choose a new way home.

© Ken Rookes 2018

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

The boy Jesus


He was twelve years old
when he went with his fam’ly
to Jerusalem.

Nobody missed him
amidst all the confusion
of the festival.

The fam’ly heads home.
A day into the journey
they note his absence.

At last they find him
sitting among the teachers
in the great temple.

The twelve year old boy
holds his own with his questions
and his perception.

They were astonished,
his parents. They chastised him,
Why have you done this?

Why did you seek me?
You should have known where to look;
in my Father’s house.

In twenty years’ time.
He will return for the feast
and the conclusion.


© Ken Rookes 2018

Sunday, December 23, 2018

To Bethlehem we come


The course of the Advent and its violet road-map
was determined two millennia ago.
We who claim our places among his disciples
walk the Coming-Season’s famous annual path to Bethlehem.
Was he even born there?
Perhaps / probably not:
it doesn’t matter.

We tread our Advent road toward Bethlehem
to meet with shepherds and other disrerputable people
to sing the songs of the coming of our friend and mentor.

We travel, recalling those irresistible demands of the ancient bureaucracy
to be counted, numbering ourselves
among those blessed to share in his suffering.

We bypass Jerusalem,
knowing that there are many places where truth is hidden,
that deeper truth awaits its revelation,
and that our ultimate destination will, one day,
include that great and troubled city.

Our journeying eyes search out inns and stables,
knowing that God and Spirit and other mysteries
will be found in the most unlikely places.

The city of David calls to us with the power of its history,
but we come, knowing that the new story being birthed
will be a far deeper drama
of love, generosity and sacrifice.

To Bethlehem we make our Advent journey,
with gratitude, wonder, and trepidation.


© Ken Rookes 2018

In stables and sheds


In stables and sheds,
kitchens and loungerooms
where trees are trimmed and illuminated
and nativuty scenes erected,
and where they are not;
where questions are asked
and objections raised,
where humans struggle
and sometimes doubt,
where the downtrodden gather
to become schooled in resistance,
where infants dance with delight and wonder
and old people pause to reflect,
where children are reckless enough to claim their voices
and challenge their elders,
where the just discover their anger
and politeness gives way to righteous insistence,
where generosity, compassion and hope reassert themselves
to confront the greed, brutality and fear at the centre of the universe;
here, in these places
among earth’s dust and straw,
and in many places like them
the Logos of God will be,
is being, born,
to shine again,
defiantly
in the darkness.


© Ken Rookes 2018

The birth

Haiku of wonder

When a king is born
the stories must reflect it
with wonder and awe.

Apart from angels,
this narrative is humble,
with a common cast.

Comes to Bethlehen,
the tradie with his girl-bride,
about to give birth.

A shed out the back
of a packed-out small-town pub.
Nothing flash in that!

A son is born, wrapped
in cloth strips and put to bed
in a feeding trough.

Shepherds get the news:
the Messiah has been born,
look for a baby.

This will be the sign:
a baby in a manger,
in David’s city.

The shepherds decamped
to see for themselves the child,
as they had been told.

They told ev’ryone
about the child, the one born
to save his people.

© Ken Rookes. 2018

Monday, December 17, 2018

The great song of announcing

Haiku that lead to fulfilment.


Mary went in haste
to visit Elizabeth
at home in the hills

Two women embrace,
both pregnant, feeling wonder
and knowing the joy.

They cry and they sing
their songs of expectation;
the world is pregnant.

The young woman’s song
filled with its socialist themes
won’t win many friends.

The proud are scattered;
powerful kings and rulers
brought down from their thrones.

And yet the lowly,
cast aside, will be lifted
and the hungry filled.

And what of the rich?
They have had it all; send them
away wih nothing.

A promise of hope
for the people who struggle:
The new realm comes!

All old promises
will achieve their fulfilment
in the One who comes.


© Ken Rookes 2018

Monday, December 10, 2018

The crowds were coming

Haiku of anticipation

The crowds were coming.
They’d heard he was baptising.
Come! Begin again!

John was a preacher,
among other things. Repent!
Produce righteous fruits!

You brood of vipers!
he cried to the hypocrites
who came, pretending.

Your historical
entitlement is ending;
bear the fruits of love.

What then should we do?
they asked him. Learn how to share;
spread the love around.

Tax collectors came.
Don’t collect more than you should.
Treat people fairly.

Soldiers came, seeking.
Don’t exploit your position;
wages are enough.

People were asking:
Could he be the promised one
that God is sending?

That one is coming.
I have baptised with water;
he brings the Spirit.


© Ken Rookes 2018

Monday, December 3, 2018

When the time was ripe


Haiku of anticipation

When the time was ripe
he came. John the forerunner,
preaching, baptizing.

Across the region
his message was heard: Repent
and be forgiven!

In the wilderness
a voice was heard, crying out:
Prepare the Lord’s way!

Metaphorical
earthworks describe a coming,
wond’rous, bringing life.

Paths will be straightened,
mountains and hills made level,
valleys shall be filled.

Rough ways will be smoothed
and all humankind shall see
God’s full salvation.

Get yourselves ready!
Make the most of this new thing
that God is doing!


© Ken Rookes 2018

Monday, November 26, 2018

Stand, be courageous.

Haiku of warning and encouragement

Signs all around us
in the sun, moon and the stars.
and here upon earth

The planet will shake
seeking freedom from bondage
to power and fear.

They will call lies truth
and truth lies; brazen, barefaced.
Fear will rule the day.

The Son of Man comes.
When you see these things happen
stand, be courageous.

Leaves on the fig tree
tell us that summer is near;
so, too, the kingdom.

Live well, be ready.
Free your hearts from earthly cares.
Do not be caught out.

Troubles are coming
on you and ev’ryone else;
pray you have the strength.


© Ken Rookes 2018

Monday, November 19, 2018

So you are a king?

Haiku for a trial

The procurator
knew what the job demanded;
kept the lid on things.

Pontius Pilate
found the case most perplexing;
called him in again.

Let’s not mess around:
Are you the king of the Jews?
How will he reply?

Jesus answered him.
What do they say about me,
what makes you ask this?

Hey, I’m not a Jew!
Your own people turned on you;
what is it you’ve done?

It’s not from this world,
my kingdom. No, otherwise
we would be fighting.

My kingdom is found
in another realm, where peace,
love and justice rule.

So you are a king?
Pilate keeps on questioning,
cannot understand.

All earthly kingdoms
self-destruct, bring only pain
and futility.

This worldly kingdom,
wherein we dwell, is rooted
in greed, wealth and fear.

For this I have come,
to speak truth. Listen to me;
let me be your king.


© Ken Rookes 2018

Monday, November 12, 2018

Birh Pangs

Haiku for a new order

Leaving the temple
the disciples were impressed;
like country cousins.

How big the stones are,
and look at the large buildings!
Nothing like back home!

Don’t be overawed!
These buildings, too are passing;
all will be thrown down.

The old religion
has failed. It will pass away.
Just like the temple.

When will these things be,
what will be the sign? they asked
when they were alone.

Don’t be led astray.
Mind my words, don’t trust any
who say, “I am he!”

You will hear of wars,
and strife among the nations;
do not be alarmed.

There will be famines
and natural disasters;
keep trusting in me.

These are the birth pangs
of God’s kingdom ruled by love;
it will surely come.

Old religion still
holds so many in its sway.
Let’s open our eyes!


© Ken Rookes 2018

Monday, November 5, 2018

Widow's mite cartoon


The temple deserving of destruction

"... The woman’s devotion is undoubted. But we have taught her, in part, to increase her poverty in the name of God. “They kill the widow and the stranger...” (Ps 94:6) Families are destroyed by husbands at too many meetings and working bees, or wives working too long in the church office. Except it is not the husband or the wife, it is the church. Young women are destroyed by the structures; it has been happening all my life and I am only finally seeing.
.... In this picture of a more fundamental corruption, those “inadequate people seeking power” (Loader) are often tolerated, and even encouraged,  by other inadequate people seeking an inadequate God. Great is their rage and destructiveness when they see they have idolised God and gotten only a poor minister.
And in the middle of it all those who are true become the “collateral damage” of the church; the ones we deny we have destroyed.
I once saw a man stand firm under fire and give everything he had. What an appalling thing if the widow was doing this, too, with her two coins, and it turned out we had built a temple which turned her love into a lie!
It would deserve its destruction."
Andrew Prior (from https://www.onemansweb.org/theology/a-difficult-day-of-the-lord-mark-13-24-37/the-trickle-down-theory-of-church-mark-12-38-44.html)

Ruth at the feet of Boaz

Marc Chagall

Scribes and widows

Haiku for living

Beware of the scribes
walking around in long robes,
drawing attention.

They like the best seats,
expect people’s deference,
enjoy the honour.

Taking advantage
of widows, hiding their deeds
with their lengthy prayers.

Learned hypocrites,
naked perfidy revealed,
they will be condemned.

Speaking of widows,
Jesus observed one of them
giving her two coins.

When you are wealthy
you can afford to give much,
but when you are poor . . .

Two small copper coins.
Not much, but everything
she had, said Jesus.

To be generous
is to reflect God’s nature.
Live generously.



© Ken Rookes 2018

Monday, October 29, 2018

Some came seeking truth

Haiku for the wise

Not all of the scribes
were counted as enemies;
some came seeking truth.

One brought a question
to Jesus, not to trick him,
but to understand.

Of all God’s commands,
which is the one that comes first,
which is the greatest?

The shema, he said.
The Lord is one: Love the Lord
with heart, mind and strength.

The second is this:
You are to love your neighbour
as you love yourself.

The scribe was impressed.
These are very good answers,
there is none better.

You show great wisdom,
you are close to God’s kingdom,
responded Jesus.

Close to God’s kingdom,
nearing the destination!
Yes, I would take that!

© Ken Rookes 2018

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Lament for the children

I wrote this for the Bendigo Rural Australians for Refugees rally held last Wednesday, calling for the release of children and their families from detention on the Island of Nauru. The people were invited to participate in the response (Bold). It works as a sort of rap.

I was invited to offer it as a prayer at Eaglehawk Uniting Church this morning. People responded positively, and it opened up some good conversations

We’re aching the children, 
we want to wipe their tears
 We want to give them freedom, 
we long to end their fear.

We can feel the shame,
the helplessness and pain,
of children in detention,
their lives held in suspension.
We mourn with them and grieve,
and we won’t be relieved
Until the suff’ring kids are freed
Until the kids are freed.

These families are sentenced
to futility and despair
while those who sit in judgement
condemn without a care.
But no crime has been committed,
they came looking for a welcome;
they asked us for protection,
and we stole their hope and freedom

We’re aching the children,
 we want to wipe their tears
 We want to give them freedom,
 we long to end their fear.

The criminals in Canberra
pretend to serve our interest.
They claim it’s for our benefit,
that it’s for the best.
Our moral compass has been lost
on that we can be clear:
It’s been swallowed by the politics,
of racism and fear;

On the tiny island of Nauru,
amidst the desolation,
no one’s going anywhere;
there is no destination.
There’s nothing to look forward to
just more desperation,
for children and their parents, too,
a helpless situation.

We’re aching the children, 
we want to wipe their tears
 We want to give them freedom,
 we long to end their fear.

Childhood should be wond’rous,
with laughter. and with learning;
without the fear and sadness,
the aching and the yearning.
If we only could we’d make it right,
create a justice outcome,
take their hands, hold them tight
and make these children welcome.

How long must the children wait
for justice and compassion?
Kindness, hospitality;
why must these things be rationed?
We will raise our voices high,
together we shall loudly cry:
Until the suff’ring kids are freed,
Until the kids are freed.

We’re aching the children, 
we want to wipe their tears
 We want to give them freedom, 
we long to end their fear.

Ken Rookes 2018

Monday, October 22, 2018

The blind man

Haiku for seeing

Blind Bartimaeus
lived in perpetual night,
but he still had hope.

Beggng by the road,
hearing reports and gossip,
he hoped in Jesus.

Jericho’s grapevine
told him Jesus was in town:
what were the chances?

He comes! They told him.
“Have mercy, Son of David!”
The blind man shouted.

You are a nuisance,
Bartimaeus; be silent!
He shouted louder.

Jesus heard his voice,
stopped and called the man over.
Take heart! They told him.

Jesus said to him,
What do you request of me?
Teacher, let me see.

Go, Bartimaeus,
your faith has been rewarded:
your sight is restored.

Bartimaeus went.
He went along with Jesus,
followed on the way.

Would that I, meeting
with my master; like friend Bart,
follow in his way.


© Ken Rookes 2018

Thursday, October 18, 2018

suffering and beauty

"For most of my life, God’s response to Job in this book has frustrated me, even angered me. It all seemed so insufficient a response. But now I can’t help but wonder if there is wisdom in responding to suffering with an invitation to see beauty around us, to allow beauty to interrupt despair and grief.
Like suffering, beauty cannot really be explained. Like suffering, beauty can only really be experienced. And like suffering, beauty changes us. For Job, suffering and grief removed the protective barrier of wealth and privilege and opened his eyes to see how deeply suffering, injustice and pain are shot through the human experience. So much so that all he could see was pain and suffering in the world. In a similar way, the more we experience and observe beauty, the more frequently we experience it even in small and unexpected places, in the way a sleeping child tucks her hands under her cheeks at night, the way a spouse tilts his head back in laughter, the pirouettes of a single yellow leaf falling from an empty tree.
But we need both. We need to cultivate both, an awareness of the suffering of humanity and an awareness of the beauty of the creation. We need to experience both the remote absence of God and the divine immanence of a God who is with us in creation."
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/davidhenson/2015/10/what-job-and-god-learn-from-each-other-prophetic-grief-meets-prophetic-beauty-a-homily/

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Forget the honour


Haiku for disciples

Teacher, will you do
for us whatever we ask?
What is it you want?

Brothers James and John
didn’t get it; asked Jesus
for seats of honour.

In glory may we
sit with you, at your right hand,
and one at your left?

You are asking much,
and you do not understand:
can you drink my cup?

And my baptism;
are you able to share it?
Yes, we are able.

You answer quickly!
In time you will share these hings
and my suffering.

The others saw red!
James and john had gone too far.
Jesus called them in.

Forget the honour,
That’s not the name of this game!
It’s about serving!

Others crave power,
you are not to be like them.;
you must be like me.

© Ken Rookes 2018

Monday, October 8, 2018

One thing is lacking


Running to Jesus
he knelt: For life eternal,
tell me what to do?

Jesus answered him;
You should know what God commands;
do these things and live.

Teacher, since my youth
I have kept the laws of God.
Jesus looked with love.

One thing is lacking:
Go, sell what you own, and give
it all to the poor.

Then come, follow me,
your wealth will be in heaven;
you will know true life.

The man was dismayed;
his possessions were many,
he could not let go.

How hard it will be
for the wealthy to enter
the kingdom of God..

Camels will pass through
a needle’s eye easier.
The rich will struggle.

Who then can be saved?
Mortals cannot achieve it,
God makes it happen.

You who have left home
to tread the kingdom’s pathways
will be rewarded.


© Ken Rookes 2018

Monday, October 1, 2018

They brought their children

Haiku of blessing

They came to test him,
the Pharisees, loving law;
What about divorce?

For your heart’s hardness,
Moses permitted divorce.
Human brokenness.

Two becoming one:
a generous unity
and image of love

They brought their children
to be embraced by Jesus,
seeking his blessing.

The twelve gatekeepers,
also known as disciples,
spoke sternly to them.

Let them come to me,
said Jesus indignantly,
and do not stop them.

To children like these
the kingdom of God belongs;
enter like a child.

He took the children
into his arms, blessing them,
declaring God’s love.


© Ken Rookes 2018

Monday, September 24, 2018

In my name

Haiku of inclusion

Dividing the world
according to our judgements,
into us and them.

They watched him cast out
demons. Not part of their group!
They tried to stop him.

Jesus said, Let be!
Who does such things in my name
cannot malign me.

Someone not opposed
to the things I do or say
must be on our side.

A cup of water
given in the name of Christ
will be rewarded.

Take good care of them,
the little ones who believe,
that they may grow strong.

Do not be tempted.
Whatever makes you stumble,
best to discard it.

Salt should be salty,
adding flavour to living;
be salt for others.



© Ken Rookes 2018

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Drum Major instinct

One of my favourite sermons of Martin Luther-King Jr is his 'Drum Major instinct sermon. it makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck. If you can, look up the whole text of the sermon, and even better listen to the mp3. Here is an excerpt.
"...I want you to see what Jesus was really saying. What was the answer that Jesus gave these men? It's very interesting. One would have thought that Jesus would have condemned them. One would have thought that Jesus would have said, "You are out of your place. You are selfish. Why would you raise such a question?"
But that isn't what Jesus did; he did something altogether different. He said in substance, "Oh, I see, you want to be first. You want to be great. You want to be important. You want to be significant. Well, you ought to be. If you're going to be my disciple, you must be." But he reordered priorities. And he said, "Yes, don't give up this instinct. It's a good instinct if you use it right. (Yes) It's a good instinct if you don't distort it and pervert it. Don't give it up. Keep feeling the need for being important. Keep feeling the need for being first. But I want you to be first in love. (Amen) I want you to be first in moral excellence. I want you to be first in generosity. That is what I want you to do."
And he transformed the situation by giving a new definition of greatness. And you know how he said it? He said, "Now brethren, I can't give you greatness. And really, I can't make you first." This is what Jesus said to James and John. "You must earn it. True greatness comes not by favoritism, but by fitness. And the right hand and the left are not mine to give, they belong to those who are prepared." (Amen)
And so Jesus gave us a new norm of greatness. If you want to be important—wonderful. If you want to be recognized—wonderful. If you want to be great—wonderful. But recognize that he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. (Amen) That's a new definition of greatness.
And this morning, the thing that I like about it: by giving that definition of greatness, it means that everybody can be great, (Everybody) because everybody can serve. (Amen) You don't have to have a college degree to serve. (All right) You don't have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You don't have to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve. You don't have to know Einstein's theory of relativity to serve. You don't have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. (Amen) You only need a heart full of grace, (Yes, sir, Amen) a soul generated by love. (Yes) And you can be that servant."
For full text: https://kinginstitute.stanford.edu/king-papers/documents/drum-major-instinct-sermon-delivered-ebenezer-baptist-church
for a good listen
https://archive.org/details/MlkAFoolishManAndDrumMajorInstinct

Monday, September 17, 2018

Who will be the greatest?

Haiku for the competitive

Speaking quietly
Jesus taught his disciples
the things that must be.

Of the Son of Man
he spoke, about betrayal,
and untimely death.

It won’t be the end.
After three days he will rise.
They don’t understand.

They were arguing:
which of us is the greatest?
He made them ashamed.

Would you be the first?
Then you must become the last,
serving your comrades.

He placed a small child
in the middle of the group;
took it in his arms.

Welcoming children
is the thing you are to do;
so you welcome me.

When you welcome me
you welcome God; and take part
in God’s own being.

© Ken Rookes 2018

Monday, September 10, 2018

The big question


Haiku for disciples

It’s the big question:
Who do people say I am?
Have to think on that.

A prophet, for sure;
just like John the Baptiser,
even Elijah!

But what about you,
you who journey beside me
you who know me well?

Breaking the silence
Peter, fisherman, spoke up:
You must be the Christ!

Perhaps I am he,
but do not speak of these things;
they won’t understand.

He began to teach:
The Son of Man will suffer
and he will be killed.

Once more to Peter:
Please don’t talk like that, he said;
This cannot be true.

It is true for me,
and it will be true for you,
if you follow me.

To gain the whole world
is not the same as true life;
to gain, you must lose.

Be my followers.
Take up your cross, just like me,
and take on the world!


© Ken Rookes 2018

Friday, September 7, 2018

Ephphatha

Ephphatha.

I love this word and i love the Jesus story. At times sitting in plain sight in our readings is a particularly powerful word and speaks to my heart. This week it is 'Ephphatha' which means 'be opened'. As with all of the stories of healing which the Gospel writers give us, it is not just about the magic of the healing. It is not about the 'what'. It is about the 'Why'. It is pointing to a deeper layer of meaning within the story. And the gospel writers never accidentally put stories together without there being a connection. Here Mark has put this story about the miracle opening of the deaf man's ears together with a story in which Jesus has just had his ears opened to the plight of the Syrophoenician woman and her child. It is portrayed as a moment of mercy on Jesus part but, i believe, also a moment in which Jesus' heart was shown to be open to all people of need (maybe even a moment of transformation for Jesus himself in which his eyes were opened). 
I live in a country which is currently making a firm division between those who are worthy of mercy and compassion and those who are not. Our Government is choosing to close its ears to the cries for mercy of asylum seekers and instead is sending them away where they hope they cannot be heard or seen.
To our Government and to us i believe Jesus would be saying 'Ephphatha' - Be opened! He would challenge us to see all people of need as being equal in the eyes of the Divine and for us to act with mercy and care, to open our hearts.


("ef'-a-tha, ef-a'-tha (Ephphatha): Aramaic word used by Christ (Mk 7:34), the 'ethpa`al imperative of Aramaic pethach (Hebrew pathach), translated, "Be (thou) opened"; compare Isa 35:5. The Aramaic was the sole popular language of Palestine (Shurer, History of the Jewish People in the Time of Jesus Christ, IIg, 9) and its use shows that we have here the graphic report of an eyewitness, upon whom the dialectic form employed made a deep impression. This and the corresponding act of the touch with the moistened finger is the foundation of a corresponding ceremony in the church’s formula for baptism.")



Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Incognito


Haiku for staying uninvolved

Jesus headed north
to foreign parts, seeking rest.
Tell no one I’m here.

The word got around.
A woman came to see him;
her daughter was ill.

She was a Gentile
with no claim on this Hebrew,
except that of love.

Come and heal my child,
cast the demon out of her,
give her back to me.

No, it is not right.
My food is for the children,
it’s not for the dogs.

Not fair! She replied.
The dogs under the table
get the scraps that fall.

He must think again,
enlarge his understandings
and respond with love.

That’s a great answer!
Quite right, you can go home now,
your daughter is freed.

© Ken Rookes 2018

Friday, August 31, 2018

What defiles a person?????

"...It was into this context (Royal commission into Child abuse) that the bishops and the senior pastors asked, “Why don’t your people live out Biblical family values?”

And he said to them, “Isaiah prophesied rightly about you hypocrites. As it is written,

‘This people pays me lip-service,

but their hearts are far from me;

they worship me in vain,

for they teach human commandments as doctrine.’

You abandon the commandment of God, and wield human tradition like a sword.”

Then he said, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition! For as the prophets said, ‘You must care for the widow, the orphan, and the refugee: those who have no one to protect them.’” But you spout family values and say “Anyone who has sex before marriage, or a homosexual relationship, cannot be part of the kingdom of heaven.” You force people to lie about their relationships, or to suppress sexual expressions of faithful love, yet take no responsibility for the structures that enable sexual violence against women and children. Instead, you have protected religious officials, and worried about your own status.”

Then he called the crowd again and said to them, “Listen to me, all of you, and understand: there is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile you. Nothing that anyone has done to you can defile you. No way that they have touched you can defile you. No act of sexual degradation, no act of violence, no scene of pornography that has been forced upon you, can make you unclean in my eyes. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, that another person can do to you that can make you unfit for communion with me. The only thing that can get in the way of communion with me is using other people to satisfy your destructive desires, and failing to live in love. You may feel defiled by what other people have done to you, but in my eyes, you are not defiled. You are not defiled.”
Nathan Nettleton
http://www.laughingbird.net/

Monday, August 27, 2018

Keep yourself nice

Haiku for a polite and ordered world

Is righteous living
about keeping yourself nice?
Jesus says there’s more.

The holy people
observe the old tradition:
wash before you eat.

Always wash your hands
before you eat. Good practice,
enshrined in the law.

Other rules as well;
the washing of cups and pots
and kettles of bronze.

Pharisees object
to the careless disciples
and their defiled hands.

Isaiah knew it;
the faithless hypocrisy
behind your worship.

You care about rules
much more than you care about
what God is wanting.

It’s time to get real!
It’s the things you do and say
that make you defiled.

Always there is more
than the narrow, centred fears
of the self-righteous.

© Ken Rookes 2018

Monday, August 20, 2018

Difficult words

Haiku of offence.

Eating and drinking,
taking my life deep within;
they abide in me,

They will always live,
nor will their deeds be forgot,
alive in God’s heart.

Difficult teachings,
who can accept them? Even
disciples struggle.

From the spirit comes
true life; the flesh is useless.
Believe in my words.

Many disciples
turned back. His words were too hard,
the way was too tough.

He questioned the twelve:
Do you also wish to leave,
is it all too hard?

Where else can we go?
said Peter. Your words are life;
you have come from God.

© Ken Rookes 2018

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Wealth is not a blessing

"Wealth is not blessing.  I feel like I need to repeat that.  Wealth is not blessing.  If it is, then Jesus (just to cite the obvious example) must be regarded as one of the most un-blessed people ever to walk the earth; he lived and died dirt poor.  But if there's one false teaching that haunts the American church most, this is it.  That money is an unambiguous sign of God's approval.  Hence, prosperity theology.  Hence, our willingness to turn a blind eye to sin in our politicians, our economic policy makers, our religious leaders, and our cultural icons when their sins come packaged in enormous wealth.  Too often, money creates a moral vaccuum.  Solomon remained wealthy while he sacrificed babies to Molech.  Wealth is not blessing."
https://www.journeywithjesus.net/essays/1880-the-beginning-of-wisdom

Sabbath quote

“Sabbath observance invites us to stop. It invites us to rest. It asks us to notice that while we rest, the world continues without our help. It invites us to delight in the world’s beauty and abundance.”


― Wendell Berry

Sabbath Poem

Wendell Berry (born 1934)
Sabbath Poem VII (1982)
The clearing rests in song and shade.
It is a creature made
By old light held in soil and leaf,
By human joy and grief,
By human work,
Fidelity of sight and stroke,
By rain, by water on
The parent stone.
We join our work to Heaven's gift,
Our hope to what is left,
That field and woods at last agree
In an economy
Of widest worth.
High Heaven's Kingdom come on earth.
Imagine Paradise.
O Dust, arise!

Hospitality

Haiku of grace M artha and Mary: the sisters receive Jesus and make him welcome. Hospitality. Someone has to cook the...