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!

Monday, August 13, 2018

Living bread

Haiku of eternal life

I am living bread,
Jesus says in John’s gospel.
Eat, live for ever.

The leaders dispute.
How can this man give his flesh
that people might eat?

I tell you truly,
Jesus says, Life is in me,
take me deep within.

In these words we find
eucharistic overtones:
Come to the table.

My flesh is true food,
and my blood is true drink: Take,
eat, and drink of me.

Who partake of me,
live in me; and I abide
in them. We are one.

The Father sent me.
The life I have is from God;
I share it with you.

The bread from heaven
gives life that is fair dinkum.
Come to me and eat.


© Ken Rookes 2018

Monday, August 6, 2018

The bread of life

Haiku for those who need to be fed

The Johanine Christ
calls himself the bread of life;
much consternation.

Is this not Jesus,
the son of the carpenter?
Claims to come from God!

The Father sent me,
and he draws many to me;
I will raise them up.

Learn from the Father
and come to me. I’ll show you
how to truly live.

Your ancestors ate
wilderness bread from above;
death still embraced them.

I am living bread.
Eat of me, receive my life;
you need never die.

Heaven’s living bread,
bread that gives life to the world:
this bread is my flesh.

© Ken Rookes 2018

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Give us this bread




Haiku for those who hunger.

The crowd found some boats
and crossed the lake to find him,
at Capernaum.

Is it for the signs
or because you ate your fill
that you’re seeking me?

Food that perishes
is worthless; the Son of Man
gives the food that lasts.

His food leads to life.
His word brings life eternal;
God’s seal rests on him.

They asked for a sign,
that they might have faith in him.
Like the desert bread.

In the wilderness
your forebears ate God’s manna;
this too, did not last.

The true bread from God
comes from heaven to the earth,
gives life to the world.

Give this bread to us,
they said, not really knowing
what it is they ask.

I am living bread.
Come, you need never hunger,
nor do you need thirst.


© Ken Rookes 2018

Monday, July 23, 2018

No exceptions allowed




           "There is an internal logic to the Christian good news. Since God "created all things in heaven and on earth" (Colossians 1:16), seeks the worship of all "things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth" (Philippians 2:9–11), intends to "reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven" (Colossians 1:20), will sum up or bring together "all things in heaven and on earth" (Ephesians 1:10), then of course God delights in bestowing his fatherly favor on "the whole human family in heaven and on earth" (Ephesians 3:15). The Psalm for this week makes just this point: "The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made" (Psalm 145:9). In fact, the words "all" and "every" occur eighteen times in this Psalm 145, extending God's bounty beyond every human family to the entire created cosmos (cf. Romans 8:19–22, Acts 3:21).
           In his bestseller Velvet Elvis, pastor Rob Bell of Mars Hill church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, reminds us that the Christian gospel is good news about God's fatherly favor to every human being and to all of creation, "especially for those who don't believe it. . . The church must stop thinking about everybody primarily in categories of in or out, saved or not, believer or nonbeliever. Besides the fact that these terms are offensive to those who are the 'un' and 'non,' they work against Jesus's teaching about how we are to treat others. . . As the book of James says, 'God shows no favoritism.' So we don't either" (James 2:1–13). No exceptions allowed.   "
  https://www.journeywithjesus.net/Essays/20090720JJ.shtml    

A message from our new UCA president


The crowd, hungry for his word.


Haiku of unexpected abundance

The crowd came to him;
saw the signs he was doing,
the sick getting healed.

Up on the mountain
the crowd, hungry for his word;
Jesus will feed them.

Where will we buy bread?
Six month’s wages, said Phillip,
Wouldn’t buy enough.

Five loaves and two fish
that was all they could muster:
a boy and his lunch.

They sat on the grass.
He took the loaves and thanked God,
passed the bread around.

As the story goes
they all had enough to eat,
gathered up the scraps.

Understandably
the people got excited:
He is the prophet!

He made himself scarce,
went further up the mountain
to be by himself.

When evening came
his disciples took the boat,
went out on the lake.

The lake became rough
and the wind blew against them;
they were terrified.

And then Jesus came
with words of reassurance,
Do not be afraid.


© Ken Rookes 2018

Monday, July 16, 2018

Promise asnd hope


Haiku for the shepherdless

They came back to him,
eager, full of their stories,
telling what they did.

We all need a break,
let’s find a deserted place,
away from the crowds.

They went in a boat,
trying to get clean away;
didn’t really work.

They watched them leaving
made haste on foot, got there first
to welcome the boat.

They were a great mob,
like sheep without a shepherd.
His heart ached for them.

And so he taught them
many things. Then he fed them;
meeting their hunger.

And then they sailed on,
landed at Gennesaret;
still more people came.

Wherever he went,
from across the whole region,
they came to be healed.

He came among them
with the prospect of freedom,
a promise of hope.

© Ken Rookes 2018

Monday, July 9, 2018

The sad monarch

Haiku of the powerful and the small

Sad monarch Herod
like his father before him,
achieved infamy.

Pathetic ruler
easy to manipulate,
a slave to his lusts.

John the baptiser
never could keep his mouth shut,
incurred royal wrath.

Herod’s vengeful wife,
Herodias, took offence
at his denouncements.

Cast into prison,
John was forced to bide his time.
Herod still feared him.

The stepdaughter danced
at Herod’s party. Sexy;
the men all lusted.

Whatever you want,
the king had said. Then give me
the Baptiser’s head.

The king grieves deeply,
not foreseeing this outcome,
but he has been caught.

A bloody triumph
on a platter. She, in turn,
gives it to mother.

John’s disciples hear,
and come to claim his body;
bury him with love.

© Ken Rookes 2018

Monday, July 2, 2018

Home town boy

Haiku for breaking out

Home town Nazareth,
the place where he went to school,
where they watched him grow.

Being the Sabbath
he entered the synagogue
and began to teach.

They were astounded.
Where did this man get all this;
where’s this wisdom from?

He’s the carpenter,
we know his mum and siblings!
And they took offence.

Prophets find honour
everywhere but at home.
He left with sadness.

So he departed,
on to other villages,
teaching God’s good news.

He sends out the twelve,
gives them his authority
for the task at hand.

You won’t need money,
just take a staff, no extras;
sandals are okay.

Enter their houses,
accept hospitality.
Don’t look for better.

So they went on out
called the people to repent;
doing Jesus’ work.

© Ken Rookes 2018

Monday, June 25, 2018

Healing and hope

Haiku for desperate people

On the other side
of the lake, a crowd gathered;,
eager for his word.

A desperate dad,
synagogue leader Jairus,
fell at Jesus’ feet.

Begs for his daughter,
She’s dying, come and touch her
with your healing hands.

A woman is there,
bleeding, unclean for twelve years;
doctors have not helped.

She comes quietly,
feeling shame at her illness;
touches his clothing.

Immediately
her flow of blood ends. What joy!
she knows she is healed.

He somehow feels it,
asks who it was who touched him
as the crowd presses.

In fear and trembling
she falls before him. Daughter,
be healed, go in peace.

He has been delayed;
reports are brought of the girl.
No point in coming.

She’s not dead, he says,
just sleeping. They scoff and laugh.
He goes to the house.

He takes the girls hand,
(She was all of twelve years old),
Little girl, get up!

What wonder is this?
He speaks and his words bring life;
this is the gospel!

© Ken Rookes 2018

Monday, June 18, 2018

Even the wind and the sea

Haiku for the storm-tossed.

When evening came
they took the boat, crossed over
to the other side.

Left the crowd behind,
looking for a brief respite.
Other boats came too.

In the stern, weary,
on a cushion, tired eyes;
Jesus falls asleep.

The wind is rising,
grows into a roaring gale;
waves are crashing in.

Fearful, they wake him.
Teacher, are you not concerned?
We could all be drowned!

Rebuking the wind
and commanding wild sea
he speaks: Peace! Be Still!

The wind dies away
and the waves cease their crashing;
Why are you afraid?

Why are you afraid​?
We’ve travelled far together;
have you still no faith?

Who, they ask, is this;
the wind is at his command,
the sea obeys him.

Words for the faithful
when all seems out of control:
Be at peace! Be still!

© Ken Rookes 2018

Monday, June 11, 2018

The kingdom

Haiku of emerging abundance.

The kingdom of God!
A diff’rent reality,
strange, unexpected.

The seeds are scattered.
The sower gets on with life;
the seeds sprout and grow.

First the stalk, the head,
then the grain swells full and ripe,
and the harvest comes!

Take a mustard seed,
the tiniest of them all;
grows big for the birds.

The kingdom of God;
growing fruitful love, justice;
though we may not see.

Many parables,
riddles to confuse and hide;
his friends understand.

The kingdom of God;
when God rules in hearts and minds,
grace and love abound.


© Ken Rookes 2018

Monday, June 4, 2018

He has a demon

Haiku for the family

Too busy to eat!
The crowd insist, make demands;
they press upon him.

His foes malign him.
They say he has a demon,
gone out of his mind.

His family, too,
are worried. They come to him,
try to take him home.

He gathers his friends,
laughs: a kingdom divided
surely cannot stand!

Take care what you say,
lest you blaspheme the Spirit
with your objections.

His mother arrives
with his brothers, calls him out.
He doesn’t respond.

Looking at the crowd
he asks, Who is my mother,
who are my brothers?

You are my mother
and my brothers, when you do
what God is asking!

© Ken Rookes. 2018

Monday, May 28, 2018

The Sabbath cornfields

Haiku for lawbreakers

The Sabbath cornfields
see his disciples breaking
the Sabbath work laws.

Plucking heads of grain:
harvesting, threshing, working!
All against the law.

The Sabbath, he said,
was given for humankind
not the opposite.

Jesus sits loosely
with the letter of the law;
he is ruled by love.

In the synagogue
the man with a withered hand:
will Jesus heal him?

Shall Sabbath prevail
and circumvent the healing?
No. He will choose love.

What does the law say,
on the Sabbath, to do good,
or should we do harm?

They will not answer.
Their hearts are hard, unable
to find compassion.

The mean and heartless
do not like being exposed.
The plotting begins.

© Ken Rookes 2018

In earthen vessels


Haiku for the humble

We have this treasure,
the apostle asserted,
in earthen vessels.

These common clay pots,
plain and undecorated,
hold the light of Christ.

Humble followers,
nothing special about us;
yet he shines within.

Proclaim him as Lord,
for truly he is the one
God has sent to us.

The light that we bear
is knowledge of God’s Glory
seen in Jesus’ face.

We are afflicted,
persecuted and struck down,
but we are not crushed.

We have been perplexed
but not driven to despair,
nor are we alone.

Bearers of the death
of Jesus in our bodies,
his life is here, too.

As long as we live
his death is at work in us;
to shape and renew.

© Ken Rookes 2018

Monday, May 21, 2018

Trinity poem


“He whom I bow to only knows to whom I bow
When I attempt the ineffable Name, murmuring Thou,
And dream of Pheidian fancies and embrace in heart
Symbols (I know) which cannot be the thing Thou art.
Thus always, taken at their word, all prayers blaspheme
Worshiping with frail images a folk-lore dream,
And all men in their praying, self-deceived, address
The coinage of their own unquiet thoughts, unless
Thou in magnetic mercy to Thyself divert
Our arrows, aimed unskillfully, beyond desert;
And all men are idolaters, crying unheard
To a deaf idol, if Thou take them at their word.
Take not, O Lord, our literal sense. Lord, in thy great
Unbroken speech our limping metaphor translate.”
              C.S Lewis

Entering the Kingdom

Haiku of the Spirit

Nic the Pharisee
worthy leader of the Jews,
slipped away one night.

Locating Jesus
he pressed him with his questions.
Tell me what it means.

Truly I tell you
if you would see God’s kingdom,
you must be reborn

How can these things be?
Can one return to the womb,
to be born once more?

It’s a Spirit thing.
The flesh is not important;
true life comes from God.

Unconstrained, the wind
unseen blows where it chooses;
so, too, the Spirit.

Earthly things confound!
When I speak things heavenly
how will you believe?

For the sake of love
God’s only Son lived with us
that we might know life.

He came among us
not to judge or to condemn
but to give us hope.

© Ken Rookes 2018

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

An understanding beyond speech.


Can you imagine this … The United Nations has gathered as whole to hear about the problems of the world, war, famine, religious difference; the leaders of North and South Korea, the USA, Israel and Palestine all are in the one room, and as they gather and the interpreters begin their work of translating the vast numbers of different languages, a mist fills the building and when it lifts, it is slowly realised that all the delegates can understand each other. They have an understanding and respect that is beyond mere speech. Not only do they appear to be speaking the same tongue, but they can really understand each other’s perspectives and dreams. Into the crowded chamber comes a feeling of real wonder and awe and a profound sense of hope.
We are in the Christian season of Pentecost and in this Season, Christians are reminded that the Spirit of God seeks to draw us closer to each other and to God. At the first Pentecost, there was a strange sort of event, where people from all corners of the then known world found themselves speaking in the same language. Though they were different, they understood each other.

This is the sort of community that God wants and this is the activity of the Spirit of God; to draw us closer to each other; to make the stranger a friend and to love the neighbour, who may well be different to us. But this sort of Spirit love does not always come easy or cheap. When those around you are telling you to hate it takes a divine power to move towards love. 
The work of Pentecost is one of profound miracle and hopefulness. It is a dream of a Spirit that can draw us closer, can assist us to truly know each other’s pain and dreams, and can draw us closer to a vision of a compassionate world, and to believe this despite what we may see in the news and hear around us. Let us pray for the gift of such a Spirit and know her presence in our midst.

El Greco - Pentcost

I love this painting by el Greco. It feels unusual and enlightened with women disciples at the center and the feeling of quite, gentle wonder.

Monday, May 14, 2018

When the Advocate comes


Haiku for breaking out

The Spirit of truth
AKA the Advocate
will be coming soon.

I will send to you
one who will stand beside you,
who will take your part.

He will testify,
speak of me and what I say;
you must do so, too.

From the beginning
you, my friends, have been with me;
you know who I am.

This is the promise;
you will not be left alone,
the Spirit is yours.

On Pentecost morn
wind and fire roaring through,
blowing dust away.

Imaged by fire,
water, and by rushing wind,
the Spirit has come.

Surprise us Spirit!
Drive us deeper into love,
disturb our comfort.

Needing to be healed,
the world and all its peoples;
come, Holy Spirit!


© Ken Rookes 2018

Monday, May 7, 2018

Belonging, not belonging

Haiku for strangers

You gave them to me,
companions on the journey
towards the kingdom.

I made your name known.
They listened, learning from me,
and keeping your word.

They know that it all
has come from you; ev’rything
that I gave to them.

The hour comes soon
when I can’t be here for them,
to keep my friends safe.

Although I must go,
The world shall remain their home.
Father, protect them.

The world is hostile
to those who are of the truth,
those who don’t belong.

Never my true home,
now my friends are strangers too;
eyes fixed on God’s word.

Here they must remain,
it is here love’s work goes on,
my joy made complete.

They know you sent me.
As I was sent to the world
I am sending them.


© Ken Rookes 2018

Thursday, May 3, 2018

the religion of love

My heart has become capable of every form:

It is a pasture for gazelles
And a monastery for Christian monks,
And a temple for idols,
And the pilgrim's Ka'ba,
And the tablets of the Torah,
And the book of the Koran.
I follow the religion of Love:
Whatever way love's camel takes,
that is my religion, my faith.
-Ibn Arabi 1165-1240

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

There Is A Candle In Your Heart

There is a candle in your heart,

      ready to be kindled. There is a void in your soul,       ready to be filled. You feel it, don’t you? You feel the separation       from the Beloved. Invite Him to fill you up,       embrace the fire. Remind those who tell you otherwise that       Love       comes to you of its own accord,       and the yearning for it       cannot be learned in any school.
Rumi

Monday, April 30, 2018

Abide in my love

Basic commandments for disciples.

The Father loves me,
and so, my friends, I love you;
abide in my love.

Keep my commandments.
By doing so you will dwell
in my gen’rous love.

The upshot of love
is joy, wond’rous and complete.
This joy shall be yours.

As I have loved you
so you must love each other.
This I command you.

To lay down one’s life
for the sake of one’s comrades:
love at its greatest.

You are all my friends,
nothing is withheld from you;
ev’rything is yours.

I have chosen you;
go and create fruits of love,
bear the fruits that last

Love one another.
Get this commandment sorted,
the rest will follow.

© Ken Rookes 2018

Monday, April 23, 2018

The true vine


Haiku for bearing fruit

I am the true vine.
Rural metaphors abound,
call us to bear fruit.

God the vine-grower,
keen to get a good harvest;
pruning the branches.

Painful metaphor
this pruning stuff. Us branches
were not consulted.

You received my words,
they have made you clean, worthy
to receive my life

Jesus, the true vine;
here is life, discipleship;
the important things.

We would bear good fruit,
creating love, forgiveness;
reshaping the world.

Become one with him,
find true life joined to the vine;
accept the pruning.

Choose to live in me,
he said, together we will ,
bear love’s precious fruit.

© Ken Rookes 2018

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

Emmaus

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