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.

The storm

Haiku of stillness After a long day telling stories, parables, Jesus needs a break. Suggests a boat trip. Let us cross the lake; ...