Monday, December 30, 2019

He was in the world

Haiku of the Word

He was in the world;
he whose heartbeat resonates
with earth’s deep rhythms.

They did not know him;
his own people, not seeing
nor receiving him.

They are crying out,
yearning, aching. They will not
come, they will not hear.

He is in the world
at one with God, and with us;
listen to his words.

What will his words be?
Words that challenge and disturb,
turning upside down.

Some were listening,
taking his words deep within,
God’s faithful children.

And the Word became.
one of us, with flesh and blood,
with pain and dying.

Here, then, is wonder;
here is grace and here is truth,
for each one of us.

© Ken Rookes 2019

Sunday, December 29, 2019

The gospel puzzle

Haiku of resolution.

The gospel puzzle:
Jesus the Galilean,
born in Bethlehem.

Rounding his story
Matthew give us more angels
to sort the mess out.

Despotic Herod’s
plans are spoiled, the infant
retreats to safety.

The threat is given
substance in a massacre;
a lucky escape!

Acts of cruelty
abound in human affairs;
why not another?

So the family
seeks refuge, South, in Egypt.
Like their ancestors.

It falls to Joseph,
family head, provider,
to protect his child.

Micah took us to
Bethlehem for the birth, time
now for Nazareth!

The conundrum solved!
The refugee family
settles in the North.

© Ken Rookes 2019

Monday, December 23, 2019

Becoming flesh

Haiku of wonder

In the beginning.
What a great opening line;
so much could follow.

Logos, more than word;
impossible mystery,
the essence of God.

There at creation,
alongside and one with God,
through whom all things come.

The six days give way
to the big bang universe;
was the Logos there?

Logos, source of life,
light challenging the darkness,
never submitting.

The true light arrives
to enlighten humankind;
may that day come soon!

Somehow mystery
takes flesh, coming among us;
living and dying.

Can you see where he
does touch earth with grace and hope;
will you receive him?

You who receive him
are his sisters and brothers;
children of God’s will.

© Ken Rookes 2019

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Natal Narratives

Haiku for a birthday

History retreats
as the birth stories unfold,
highlighting wonder.

Natal narratives,
much loved by card designers;
but no shepherds here!

Matthew takes Joseph,
scripting him the leading role,
puts him centre stage.

Found to be with child!
Mary; what to do with her?
Joseph measures up.

As the story goes
an angel helps him decide,
to do the right thing.

The child, he is told,
is conceived through the Spirit.
Most improbable!

Hooray for Joseph!
By obedience and love
the story proceeds.

The child will be born
and the course of salvation
will not be hindered.

© Ken Rookes 2019

Monday, December 16, 2019

Song of Mary

Song of justice, song of peace,
song of struggle, song that pleads,
song to stir the anxious breast,
song that brings the weary, rest.
Song that speaks into the pain
song to bring us back again.
Song upon the lips of Mary,
song to make the rich folk wary.

Song of revolution shout,
song to throw the despots out.
Song of promise for the poor,
song that opens up the door.
Song to ring across the nations,
song of reconciliation.
Song of blessing from above,
song of unexpected love.

Song for widow, orphan, stranger;
song to celebrate the anger.
Song of laughter, song of tears,
song that challenges the fears.
Song of trouble, song of strife
song of hope and truth and life.
Song that overturns the wrong,
sing with Mary, join the song.

© Ken Rookes 2019

Monday, December 9, 2019

Doubting in the dark

Haiku of unexpected hope

John the Baptiser
languishing in the dungeon;
doubting in the dark.

Sending out his friends
to find out. Are you the One
or must we still wait?

Return to John, tell
of the things you see and hear;
life in its fullness.

Tell of God’s welcome,
the outsiders who find home,
of friendship’s triumph.

Tell of the confused
who have come to understand;
lives renewed by love.

Tell of the gospel
taking root in aching hearts,
producing much fruit.

Tell of forgiveness
bringing many beginnings,
joy blended with hope.

Tell prophet-man John
that God’s reign is upon us,
and to be at peace.

© Ken Rookes 2019.

Monday, December 2, 2019

The Baptiser cries

Haiku of expectation

The Baptiser cries
loudly his words to repent,
and weeps in silence.

In his op-shop clothes
of camel hair, leather belt,
catches them off-guard!

Make ready, he says;
things are changing, a new day
is about to dawn.

You privileged ones,
presuming on your birthrights;
produce fruits of love.

No place for smugness
you who think you have arrived;
you must live justly.

Flee the coming wrath;
produce fruits of justice, and

One is coming soon,
with greater, more powerful
words of hope and life.

He will bring judgement.
There is really no need; we
bring it on ourselves.

© Ken Rookes 2019

Monday, November 25, 2019

Keep awake, herefore.

Haiku for the vigilant

Things we do not know:
what lies around the corner,
what is to happen.

The days of Noah,
eating drinking, marrying;
just like us today.

Planet Earth is stuffed.
Should be taking to the streets,
not watching TV.

What price relevance?
The things we’re doing in church,
while the planet cooks.

Does the Lord return?
Will he come to fix things up?
Not holding my breath.

The thieves are coming!
Climate change deniers, all,
stealing the future.

On the far right, fools
posit an infinite earth.
Extinctions abound.

The party goes on,
so much fun! Don’t disturb us;
we don’t want to know.

We did not expect.
But no! They warn us: twelve years!
What if they are right?

Sleep on, you Christians.
Would God let these things happen?
Who else will stop them?

© Ken Rookes 2019

Monday, November 18, 2019

Into Paradise

Haiku for dying

It was called The Skull
this place where death is dispensed
with lumber and nails.

Jesus, Son of Man,
has his own appointment there
his arms stretched out wide.

To his right and left
two criminals share with him
his sentence and pain.

The leaders mock him,
along with the killing squad:
Save yourself, O King!

One felon joins in,
deriding him with mocking:
Save yourself, and us!

He has done no wrong;
leave him! Our condemnation
is just; his is not.

Jesus, think on me,
the second spoke, when you come
into your kingdom.

We die together.
This day you’ll journey with me
into Paradise.

© Ken Rookes 2019

Monday, November 11, 2019

Look at these stones

Haiku for upheaval

The physical realm
strides to the front: Look at me,
my beautiful stones!

Humankind built me
to honour God, or perhaps
for their own honour.

Not one of these stones
will remain standing, he said.
All will be thrown down.

The time is coming
when this temple is rubble,
and all it stands for.

When will these things be,
what will be the sign of them?
How can we prepare?

You cannot prepare.
There will be upheaval, wars
and dreadful portents.

They will arrest you,
lock you up, hand you over;
be ready to speak.

My words will be yours,
wisdom too. You will suffer,
some of you will die.

But you will endure.
I am with you, and your souls
are held in my hand.

© Ken Rookes 2019.

Monday, November 4, 2019

No resurrection?

Haiku for questioners

No resurrection?
Not the way Jesus saw it.
Does that make him right?

Sadducees say no,
life is finite. We live once,
end of the story.

Myself, I waver;
does that mean I’m lacking faith?
Please don’t condemn me.

Should that day arrive
and we stand before God’s throne,
all must trust in grace.

The Sadducees bring
their convoluted question:
whose wife will she be?

Jesus laughs them off;
marriage has no purpose then,
in the life to come.

Offering his own
complex logic, Jesus proves
that the dead are raised,

God rules the living,
that is what really matters;
serve the living God.

© Ken Rookes 2019

Monday, October 28, 2019

Entering Jericho

Haiku for grumblers

Mr Zacchaeus,
short of stature, short of friends
wants to get a view.

Zac is wealthy, but
a tax collector by trade,
not well respected.

Jesus is coming,
passing through Jericho town.,
so Zac climbs a tree.

(This is a great yarn!)
Jesus comes by, sees the man,
Friend Zac, come on down!

I’m needing somewhere
to dine and to sleep tonight;
your place will do fine.

All the good people
begin to grumble: he goes
as a sinner’s guest!

The act of welcome
brings existential crisis:
Half my wealth I give!

The lost has been found,
sinful Zac belongs to God!
Clever move, Jesus!

© Ken Rookes 2019

Monday, October 21, 2019

How good is this, God? or The best form of welfare.

Those who are righteous
can treat others with contempt,
Jesus warned, beware!

The tax collector,
lowly, the Pharisee, grand,
stood in the temple.

The Pharisee prayed
proud, God it’s good to be me,
I thank you for that.

I’m such a fine bloke,
honest, blameless, quite unlike
that dole collector.

The tax collector
bowed his head, God, have mercy
on me, a sinner!

The second went home
justified, his prayer answered.
Not the Pharisee.

They are in control,
still, the Pharisees, with their
contempt for the poor.

How good is this, God,
that we are not drug users
and welfare cheaters?

© Ken Rookes 2019

Monday, October 14, 2019

Justice and Faith

Haiku for grabbing hold

Another story
from the story-telling man;
and more surprises.

The judge didn’t care
about the law, or people,
or what God wanted.

The judge was corrupt;
if you had enough money
you’d get your verdict.

She is a widow,
pestering, seeking justice;
the judge refuses.

She doesn’t give up,
keeps on with her bothering.
until he gives in.

She achieved justice,
grabbed it tight, not letting go.
God is easier.

Belonging to God,
day and night they are crying
for help, and it comes!

Justice is God’s work.
God’s people can be assured
it will be granted.

Justice and faith,
these two, beloved of God,
shaping God’s people.

© Ken Rookes 2019

Monday, October 7, 2019

On the edges

Haiku of inclusion

On the edges of
Samaria, Galilee,
where nobody goes.

North of Jerus’lem
Jesus meets with outcast men,
unclean, unwanted.

Ten lepers approached.
Keeping their distance they cried,
Have mercy, Master!

Go and show yourselves,
to the priests; they will confirm
that you are made clean.

As they make their way
their skin becomes clean and new.
One man turns around.

The Samaritan
falls rejoicing at his feet.
Jesus, I thank you.

Were not ten made clean?
One, alone, comes praising God;
a Samaritan!

Another surprise;
the foreigner commended
as a man of faith.

© Ken Rookes 2019

Monday, September 30, 2019

The size of a mustard seed

Haiku for the faithful

Increase our faith, Lord,
the apostles requested.
A silly question.

What’s the point of faith,
however big or tiny,
unless it is used.

You don’t need much faith,
a mustard seed will suffice.
Just put it to use.

Even a schoolgirl
can make a real difference;
faith joined with courage.

Do not reward us
for doing what’s expected.
We do what we must.

We are worthless slaves.
We owe God everything;
thanks are not required.

What to do with faith?
Love, forgive, build justice, peace;
welcome the kingdom.

Look deeply within;
see the faith already there,
ready to wake up.

© Ken Rookes 2019

Monday, September 23, 2019

The gap

Haiku for the indifferent

It’s always been big,
the gap between rich and poor.
Keeps getting larger.

The wealthy man’s scraps
could have fed the poor beggar.
They weren’t on offer.

For a peaceful life
the rich invest in awnings
that conceal the poor.

Beggars confront us,
we hide behind the question:
Are they deserving?

God does not question,
embracing the poor beggar,
deserving or not.

The wealthy protest,
if only we’d realised!
You chose not to know.

Should someone return
from the dead to give warning,
they still would not hear.

© Ken Rookes 2019

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Not strong enough to dig

Not strong enough to dig
Haiku for those who are caught.

The man was corrupt
in charge of his master’s wealth;
finally caught out.

He is in trouble,
knows that he faces charges;
what is he to do?

To ashamed to beg
and not strong enough to dig;
what a dilemma!

He’s not finished yet!
Uses what’s left of his job
to curry favour.

When he’s unemployed
he intends to be welcomed
into wealthy homes.

Cunning like a fox;
summons his master’s debtors
and discounts their debts.

The master gets wind,
laughs at the outrageousness
of his steward’s scheme.

Make friends for yourself
by means of dishonest wealth.
Strange words from Jesus.

Disturbing advice
for those who follow the light;
Should we be more shrewd?

© Ken Rookes 2019

They called out to God

Haiku for those in bondage

Time’s dust overlays
memory; generations
cause the past to lie.

Joseph is forgot
and those who once were welcomed
are made enemies.

Arriving as guests,
they multiplied, became feared,
ended up as slaves.

Crying out to God
to end their cruel suffering;
Lord, deliver us!

Fugitive Moses,
tending sheep in Midian
sees a burning bush.

As the twigs crackle
Moses hears a voice calling,
takes off his sandals.

Most disturbingly
the voice purports to be God:
I am sending you!

I hear my people,
I know their pain. You must go,
bring them from Egypt.

Demurring, Moses
protests his limitations.
This is beyond me!

Say to my people
I am has sent me to you;
My name for all time.

© Ken Rookes 2019

Sunday, September 15, 2019


Haiku of struggle

Jacob heads for home
hoping that time has softened
his brother’s anger.

Jacob is fearful.
He prays for deliverance,
hopes in God’s promise.

He hedges his bets:
sends his ample gift ahead
trying to appease.

Pausing for the night
Jacob buys time, putting off
the confrontation.

Sends the mob ahead,
waits alone. A man appears;
strange, mysterious.

Coming together
in a primeval contest,
Jacob fights the man.

They wrestle, Jacob
and the stranger. No one wins,
The sun is rising.

The man asks Jacob,
Let me go! Before I do
give me your blessing.

I’ll give you a name.
you have contended with God;
you are Israel.

Jacob understood;
he had wrestled with the Lord.
Somehow he survived!

Each of us wrestles
with the Lord in our own way;
we don’t often win.

© Ken Rookes 2019

Monday, September 9, 2019

Finding the lost

Haiku for fringe dwellers

The tax collectors
and all the other ratbags
listened to Jesus.

All the good people
objected: This man hangs out
with unworthy types.

He told them stories
about things that had been lost.
Now they‘re being found!.

It doesn’t matter,
sheep, coins, car keys or people;
the lost need finding.

Grace is ev’rything,
I once was lost, now I’m found.
So the old hymn goes.

The ratbag sinners,
by definition, are lost;
they need an embrace.

They dwell on the fringe;
Jesus, offers them friendship.
No one need stay lost.

Lift up your eyes. Look,
the lost are all around us;
love them like Jesus.

© Ken Rookes 2019

Laughing Boy

Haiku of surprise

Back in ancient times
God wandered with some angels,
met with Abraham.

At Abraham’s tent
the Lord was welcomed with cakes,
yoghurt, milk and veal.

The childless couple,
long past it, would have a child,
the strangers promised.

Sarah overheard,
listening near the entrance;
she laughed at the thought.

The promise mocks her.
Her childlessness is failure;
laughter hides her pain.

The impossible
is made possible, with God;
so the story says.

Sarah does conceive.
Apparently the old folk
still knew what to do.

Laughing Boy arrives.
Lots of joy, hope, and wonder,
not to mention laughs.

© Ken Rookes 2019

Haiku in response to the Narrative lectionary.

Monday, September 2, 2019

The cost

Haiku for disciples

Think priorities.
Discipleship must come first,
before family.

This is difficult.
Know what you’re getting into
when you answer ‘yes!’

The cross you carry
is an instrument of pain.
You will feel its weight.

Finish what you start.
Sit down, estimate the cost
before you begin.

I have looked ahead,
can see what’s waiting for me;
know who you follow.

Carefully reckon
the cost of discipleship:
follow anyway.

Don’t let anything
keep you from the kingdom path.
Be a disciple.

© Ken Rookes 2019

Sunday, September 1, 2019

An old creation story

A poem for the Narrative Lectionary

An old creation story
Haiku from the dreamtime

The ancient story
sees the divine creator
sculpting humankind.

The Eden garden;
fruitfulness to be enjoyed,
The man must tend it.

The tree of knowledge
of good and evil is there;
a great temptation.

What did God expect
from her arboreal ban:
don’t eat of this tree?

Humans dominate
the other creatures, even
giving them their names.

The man sleeps deeply
as the woman is taken,
rib-like, from his side.

Fashioned from the ground
the man and woman of dust
belong to the earth.

She is his helper;
he will be her helper, too.
They will be partners

What means this order;
first the man, then the woman?
Damn patriarchy!

Two will become one,
this divine purpose: friendship,
support, and oneness.

© Ken Rookes 2019

Monday, August 26, 2019

Heirarchies of honour

Haiku for the humble

We all observe them,
the heirarchies of honour
that show our status.

Do not be troubled
by lists of significance
and where you fit in.

Simply be yourself,
unconcerned about status.
Honour comes and goes.

Be humble, accept
whatever God allots you,
God will exalt you.

Don’t invite your friends,
your brethren or rich neighbours:
they will pay you back.

Learn to be gen’rous.
Give to those who can’t pay back,
and make them welcome.

Share with the cripple,
the poor, the blind and the lame;
they can’t repay you.

is its own blessing: be blest
as you share your love.

© Ken Rookes 2019

Monday, August 19, 2019

Not on the Sabbath

Haiku of freedom

Jesus was teaching
in one of the synagogues,
it was the Sabbath.

She came to see him,
the woman; she hadn’t stood
straight for eighteen years.

As we might expect
Jesus spoke words of freedom;
touched and made her whole.

Standing straight, praising,
and giving glory to God,
the woman rejoiced.

The law is broken!
They protest: Six days for work,
don’t use the Sabbath!

You are hypocrites!
he answers. On the Sabbath
we do what we must.

It’s not the Sabbath
that stops you rejoicing, but
your hatred for me.

Get hung up on law,
ignore what God is doing;
how sad you all are!

© Ken Rookes 2019

Monday, August 12, 2019

Fire on Earth

Haiku of urgency

He brought division,
surprised us all; we wanted
polite religion.

His words were crazy,
wild, disturbing our comfort,
not respectable.

Co-opting his words,
we made of them a program
of pious order.

If you want polite,
respectable and ordered,
you’d better leave now.

Your world is dying
and all you sing is pretty.
Don’t give me pretty.

Your world is dying,
open your eyes, can’t you see?
Time to do something.

Don’t give me love songs,
give me love’s revolution;
let me take the pain.

© Ken Rookes 2019

Monday, August 5, 2019

Being ready

More haiku for disciples

He gives the kingdom,
what more will you ever need?
Nothing else matters!

Give it all away!
Give alms, sell your possessions;
they’re not important.

Make sure you’re ready.
Be alert and be faithful,
live the way God wants.

Let love rule your life,
work for justice and for truth.
Live for the kingdom.

It is not enough
to simply live decently;
make a difference.

Perhaps tomorrow,
we don’t know when it all ends.
Love makes you ready.

The kingdom good news
is concrete hope and justice;
make sure you do it.

© Ken Rookes 2019

Monday, July 29, 2019

An abundant harvest

Haiku for a capitalist world

Jesus, we are told,
refused to act as a judge
between two brothers.

He told a story
to warn against greed and wealth.
Take care! he told them.

The love of money,
a later follower wrote,
gives rise to evil.

Ignoring others
when your needs are paramount
leaves no place for love.

Building bigger barns
in which to store one’s riches.
Keep them for yourself.

Wealth and more money,
cannot satisfy the rich;
there’s never enough.

How empty the hearts
of the wealthy; emptiness
that is never filled.

Best give it away,
create some empty spaces
for God to dwell in.

© Ken Rookes 2019

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; ...