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 

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; ...