Monday, December 28, 2020

The Word


Haiku of the Light.

In the beginning.

John carries us back in time:

God and the Big Bang.

Pushing back beyond

Miriam, Sarah and Eve

to Creation One.

An over-all plan

from the beginning of time:

hope for humankind.

He said, Let Light shine!

And life, light for all people

breaks through the darkness.

John came voicing hope,

to announce the one true light.

He was not the light.

The Light-Hope-Logos,

seed found at creation’s core,

becomes one of us.

Those who receive him,

who take his word deep within,

are made God’s children.

The law has limits.

Jesus brings grace, truth and love;

life comes from these things.

Many speak of God.

Only Jesus, called God’s Son,

truly makes God known.

© Ken Rookes 2020

Monday, December 21, 2020

Birth Stories

Haiku for underscoring

Luke tells his stories;

birth stories to underline

Jesus’ importance.

Righteous and devout,

Simeon had been promised

he would see the Christ.

Old man Simeon

came timely to the Temple,

led by the Spirit.

Met the family,

took the child, lifted his voice:

Let me go now, God.

You have promised me,

I have seen your salvation:

light and life for all.

This child is destined

to upset the privileged

and confront the smug.

There will be much pain.

Always there is pain when God’s

new order breaks through.

Anna, the prophet,

also very old, joins in,

to speak words of hope.

© Ken Rookes 2020

Monday, December 14, 2020



Improbable Haiku


a big word for an event

cloaked in mystery.

What really happened?

Only sceptics such as me

would ask that question.

Greetings, favoured one!

The angel addresses her,

claims her attention.

The girl, young, awestruck

by news of a pregnancy.

How would I respond?

How can these things be?

The girl has not known a man;

it’s not possible.

Ah, the story goes;

you will be overshadowed

by the Most High God.

You’ll have a baby.

You will call the child Jesus;

he will be God’s Son.

© Ken Rookes 2020

Monday, December 7, 2020

Revolutionary Tract

Haiku to cause offence

The magnificat:

revolutionary tract

proclaimed by Mary

A new era comes

where the humble will be blessed,

the wealthy brought low

The powerful ones

are brought down from lofty thrones,

the lowly lifted.

The proud are confused

in their thoughts, the strong justice

of God is revealed.

This is the era

of justice and hopefulness

that God has promised.


is eclipsed in Mary’s song;

the rich sent away.

Let’s stop pretending

that the bible is neutral,


© Ken Rookes 2020

Make straight the way


Haiku to clear the Shadows

He was light’s shadow,

pointing to the shining One

in whose glow he stood.

He is not the light,

but he points to one who comes

that we might know life.

Religious leaders

came to listen, questioning,

Are you he who comes?

Not the Messiah,

nor am I Elijah, or

another prophet.

If none of these, then

who are you? I am a voice

from the wild places.

I’m the voice that shouts,

Make straight the way, be ready

for the Lord who comes.

Among you stands one

far greater than me. You will

know him when he comes.

© Ken Rookes 2020

Monday, November 30, 2020

The good news begins


Haiku of commencement

The good news begins

as Jesus, also called Christ,

is waiting offstage.

Voice in wilderness.

Baptiser John, the wild man,

makes the announcement.

The Lord comes! Prepare

to receive him; be ready

to hear his message.

The crowd flocks to John

to hear his repentance call,

to be forgiven.

He is a wild man,

this baptiser; dressed roughly,

living on insects.

Easy to ignore

the impolite, to discard

their uncultured words.

Coming after me

is one far greater; he will

baptise with Spirit.

© Ken Rookes 2020

Monday, November 23, 2020

Days of Darkness


Eschatological haiku

The days of darkness

are coming upon us all;

the sun will be hid.

The moon will not shine,

and the ever faithful stars

will absent themselves.

We might all be lost,

unable to navigate,

or to find the way.

Will he be coming,

the sky-sweeping Son of Man,

to bring us all home​?

Read the signs, he told

his friends. The fig tree’s lessons

are long forgotten.

The generation

did, in fact, pass away; He

must have got it wrong.

My words will remain

when all else is gone, he said.

Ah, Lord, but which ones?

When not expected

the Master will return. Be

about his business.

© Ken Rookes 2020

Not yet enough


Days of darkness,

days of fear.

The sun is hidden,

Even the moon directs its light elsewhere,

bending its rays away from planet earth.

The stars absent themselves,

as if there is not yet enough darkness.

The shadows expand and creep to embrace the forlorn landscape,

growing warmer every day.

The Son of Man, they say,

comes in the clouds to gather the elect.

Does he?

There are signs for those who can read,

but the good christian folk cannot see them,

having found more earthly distractions.

The fig tree’s lessons have been forgotten.

The generation did, in fact, pass away,

as have hundreds since.

Must have got it wrong.

His words, Mark tells us, will remain for all time.

The good christians all concur,

but find it hard to agree on which ones.

The story tells us that the master will return

at an inconvenient hour.

The faithful servants will not be fazed.

© Ken Rookes 2020

Monday, November 16, 2020

A final kingdom image

Haiku for ruminants

Matthew delivers

a final kingdom image:

sheep, goats and judgement.

The sheep receive praise,

commendation for their acts

of love and service.

Hungry or thirsty,

naked, stranger, in prison;

so many need help!

So much injustice,

while those who pretend to care

only want power.

As you act with love

to the least of my fam’ly

you show love to me.

On the other hand,

the goats stand condemned, having

failed to practise love.

Jesus, Son of Man,

measures kingdom credentials

by love and service.

© Ken Rookes 2020

Monday, November 9, 2020

Buckets of Money


Haiku for having a go.

The journeying man,

in the story Jesus told,

left his slaves in charge.

Diff’rent sized buckets

of money according to

perceived competence.

Take what you’re given

and use it well, with wisdom,

grace and compassion.

Fear is enemy

to action. What if I fail;

what if I blow it?

The master returns

to inspect the estate. How

is your stewardship?

Days of accounting

wherein my efforts are judged.

I have judged myself.

Well done, companions,

you have loved, served and striven!

You are my true friends.

© Ken Rookes 2020

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Ten Dancing Girls


Haiku of preparedness

He tells a story.

How to enter the kingdom:

make no assumptions!

They carried their lamps

these bridesmaids, ready to dance

the groom to the feast.

No invitations,

their danced welcome should suffice

to gain them entry.

Waiting in the street.

Where is the groom, he is late/

They sat down and slept.

Of the ten, five brought

spare oil, ready to deal with

any circumstance.

Five were unprepared.

While they were shopping for oil

the bridegroom arrived.

Five girls missed the dance

and also missed the party;

always be prepared.

Keep awake, therefore.

Wakefulness, preparedness,

unremitting love.

© Ken Rookes 2020

Monday, October 26, 2020

Would that we had the courage


A flashing, fleeting, sometimes disturbing

insight into mystery;

leaned towards, grasped after,

shared, delighted in

and meditated upon.

It becomes a source of joy and hope and healing;

yes, and then it is argued and debated,

memorised, written, codified, engraved,

painted, and sculpted in stone.


Thus religions begin,

take shape,

and transmute into sacred edifices.

In the normal course,

through the operation of time,

they are made tame, domesticated, polite.

Gaining respectability, they proceed

to participate in the intricate processes

of politics and power.

Thus the Teacher confronts

and warns against the Scribes

and the Pharisees who justify and defend

the religion of their day.

His own humble insights

will follow the same tragic trajectory

through two millennia,

to be perverted by power

and sad politics.

Would that we had the courage

and the determination to free them;

to paint coarsely, across pretending walls

of bluestone, brick, and glass,

his ancient but not quite forgotten message.

A word sprayed defiantly

for neighbour and for enemy,

or scrawled urgently in humble chalk;

four letters.

© Ken Rookes 2020


Monday, October 19, 2020


Haiku of entrapment

Questions to test him.

Two to cause him to stumble,

one that shuts them up.

Sadducees bowl up

marriage and resurrection.

He hits them for six!

He quotes the scriptures,

affirming resurrection:

God rules the living!

A lawyer enquires:

Which commandment is greatest?

The answer is Love.

For God and neighbour,

love is the first requirement.

All else is detail.

Asks his own question:

How is David’s son the Christ?

They have no answer.

Questions that challenge,

call, confuse and confound. We

ask, and we answer.

© Ken Rookes 2020

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Soft and cloying


2000 years


into a religion of comfortable raised hands

and reassurance that I,

out of all humanity,

(you too, of course);

have a reserved place

in some imagined paradise.

Soft and cloying.

He spoke of sacrifice and love.

Painful, bleeding;



giving stuff away.

Of taking the rejection

and persecution.

And of dying.

Love for neighbour,

enemies, too.

With a ratbag foreigner

made the hero

of a story about love.

Baptism into death,

and the cup of suffering.

Families divided.

Not much that can be recognised

in this baptised into prosperity

fearful of strangers

it’s all about me

Sunday religion of happiness and satisfaction;

while the planet grows hotter,

the innocent are brutalised,

and the wealthy grow even fatter

and more obscene.

© Ken Rookes 2020

Monday, October 12, 2020

Shall we pay taxes ...?

Haiku of entrapment

He is disturbing,

this teacher come from up north.

They try to trap him.

They flatter Jesus.

We know that you teach God’s way,

tell us what you think.

Should we pay taxes

to the emperor; is God

well served if we do?

Jesus shakes his head,

calls them hypocrites. Show me

the coin for the tax.

Whose head do you see

on the coin? he questioned them.

Why, the emperor’s!

Then give to Caesar

what belongs to him; and give

to God what is God’s.

Good answer, Jesus;

confounding your critics and

asserting God’s claims.

© Ken Rookes 2020

Monday, October 5, 2020

Royal Wedding


Haiku of failed RSVPs

Stories that provoke

and challenge entitlement,

making leaders squirm

A wedding banquet.

The invitations are sent.

No one wants to come.

Look, a second chance!

The servants go out again

to call in the guests.

It all turns ugly

with disturbing violence;


The king is enraged,

understandably. Sends troops

to exact justice.

Here’s the new order:

all sorts of common people

called to the banquet.

The good and the bad;

all are called, all invited

to this wedding feast.


A strange conclusion

to a strange story: make sure

you’re properly dressed.

© Ken Rookes 2020

Monday, September 28, 2020

Another Vineyard

Haiku of fruitfulness

Another vineyard

story. This time tenants, rent,

paying what is due.

How much is Jesus;

how much from gospel writers

offering hindsight?

One more parable.

Aspects of allegory;

who represents what?

Shades of Isaiah’s

vineyard producing wild grapes.

But the fruit is good!

Heaps of violence

as the greedy and corrupt

execute their plan.

The son, too, is killed.

Our thoughts are led to the end

of Jesus’ story.

Judgement takes its place

at centre-stage. The warning:

produce kingdom fruits.

You who were the first

to receive grace, from you much

will be expected.

If you won’t bear fruit

you’ve moved outside the kingdom.

Others will enter.

Priests and Pharisees

heard the penny drop that day;

these words were for them

© Ken Rookes 2020 

Monday, September 21, 2020

Of the two

Haiku for the first in line.

Chief priests and elders

can only defend the past;

cannot see the new.

We are entitled!

They cry with indignation.

No, you’re not, he says.

What authority

do you have to say these things?

I will not tell you.

A man had two sons.

Asked them both to work the vines;

different answers.

One said I will not,

but later changed his thinking

and did the right thing.

One said Yes, I’ll go;

but for whatever reason

that son never did.

Words are easily

spoken. It is the actions

that really matter.

The tax collectors

and prostitutes believed John;

entered the kingdom.

Chief priests and elders

believe they set the standard

while others fall short.

You wear the Tee-shirt;

make sure you know its message;

act accordingly.

The first will be last.

Those who pass up the invite

lose their place in line.

© Ken Rookes 2020

Monday, September 14, 2020

Don't grumble at grace.

Haiku of generosity

Not a rule book for

industrial relations;

this vineyard story.

It is about grace;

an eccentric employer,

a generous wage.

He paid them the same,

the ones who worked all day long,

and those who came late.

They grumble. The ones

who laboured through the day’s heat

felt badly done by.

Did you not agree

on the usual day’s wage?

That’s what you received.

Don’t grumble at grace

when it is shown to others:

celebrate with them!

Is God eccentric

like the man with the vineyard?

Most definitely!

© Ken Rookes 2020

Monday, September 7, 2020

To forgive or not?

Haiku of new beginnings


To forgive or not?

That, friend, is the conundrum:

Do you deserve it?

You say you’re sorry,

but the question remains: Will

you do it again?

Seventy seven?

Should I forgive that often?

He must be joking!

Another story,

of a man forgiven much,

who couldn’t forgive.

It is at the core

of Jesus’ teachings: Forgive,

as God forgives you.

Without forgiveness

there is only bitterness,

violence and death.

It’s that important,

forgiveness opens the way

to new beginnings.

© Ken Rookes 2020

Monday, August 31, 2020

Even in the church

Haiku of restoration.

Words on Jesus’ lips:

how the church should respond to

sinful behaviour.

We all make mistakes

do the wrong thing, hurt others;

needing forgiveness.

Even in the church

we fall short. How to react,

that is the challenge.

Save embarrassment

with a quiet word, hoping

to be reconciled.


doesn’t want to sort things out.

Do the best you can.

If you get nowhere

don’t sweat on it. Let them go,

but don’t stop hoping.

He is surely here

in the grace and forgiveness,

as the gathering.

© Ken Rookes 2020

Monday, August 24, 2020

Talking of death


Haiku for those with ears to hear.

In Jerusalem

those ruled by fear are waiting;

they will deal with him.

Knowing what’s in store

does not deter him. He goes

to confront his foes.

To his friends he talks

of his suffering and death.

They try to stop him.

Do not talk like that,

says Peter. It must not be!

He does not get it.

Suffering and death:

these may not be avoided

if you’re serving God.

The cross. Splintered wood

for Jesus; what might it mean

for you and for me?

Follow me, deny

yourselves and take up your cross;

you will find true life.

© Ken Rookes 2020

Monday, August 17, 2020

What do they say?


Haiku for questioners

In Caesarea

he asked; What do they say; who

is the Son of Man?

Some say the Baptist,

Elijah, Jeremiah;

one of the prophets.

You, who follow me,

who do you say that I am?

Tell me what you think.

You must be the Christ,

Simon answered him; the Son

of the living God.

Who are you? We ask

still; leaning out for meaning,

reaching out for hope.

Who am I? We ask,

discovering our true selves

as we meet with him.

Keep it to yourselves

for now, this revelation.

It will cause trouble.

© Ken Rookes 2020

Monday, August 10, 2020

Breaking Rules


Breaking Rules

Haiku for getting sorted


He is dismissive

of ritual cleanliness

and its importance.

Consider your mouth:

What goes in does not defile,

rather, what comes out!

The Pharisees fume!

This teacher has no respect

for our traditions!

Forget traditions!

If they do not lead to life,

they are not from God.

Blind guides surround us;

servants of irrelevant

and failed religion.

The heart is the source

of evil acts; violence,

theft, abuse and greed.

Another story.

A Canaanite woman comes

pleading: Heal my girl.

Sorry, I can’t help.

Came for Israel’s lost sheep,

wasn’t sent for you.

But even the dogs

may eat of the scraps that fall

from the table’s edge.

Top answer! He said.

Great is your faith. It shall be

as you requested.

© Ken Rookes 2020

Monday, August 3, 2020

It is I, don't fear

It is I, don’t fear

Haiku of uncertain faith

He had healed them,

blessed and fed, instructed them,

then he sent them home.

He stayed by himself

while his friends left in the boat

for the other side.

Finding a high place,

letting go; resting body,

communing with God.

In the boat, his friends,

battered by the wind and waves

were getting anxious.

The story tells us

he came walking through the waves.

It is I, don’t fear!

Command me to come,

if it really is yourself;

the fisherman spoke.

The word was spoken.

Bold Peter walked on water;

then fear reclaimed him.

By ourselves we sink.

Save us, Lord! we cry in fear.

His hand reaches out.

Is it his command

of storms, that prove his Sonship;

or is it his love?

© Ken Rookes 2020

Monday, July 27, 2020


Haiku for the hungry

Seeking solitude,
he found a deserted place,
but the crowd followed.

Sometimes it’s too much,
we all need time for ourselves;
space to think and pray.

Seeing the people,
he was stirred with compassion,
reaching out to heal.

As the sun went down
his friends spoke: Send them away,
they need to buy food.

They need not depart,
I have fed their souls, we’ll find
food for bodies, too.

They brought it to him,
the five loaves and the two fish;
all the food they had.

That should do, he said.
as he blessed and broke the loaves.
They shared them around.

So many people,
so many ways to hunger;
Jesus feeds them all.

© Ken Rookes 2020

Monday, July 20, 2020

It will be like this

Haiku of the Kingdom

Lots of parables;
what will the kingdom be like?
It will be like this!

The mustard seed, small,
sown in a field, growing large;
a home for the birds.

Yeast, mixed with flour,
three measures, causing the bread
to rise and become.

A hidden treasure,
uncovered; sell ev’rything
and purchase the field!

A merchant, searching
for pearls, finds the perfect one;
sells ev’rything else.

The net that catches
all kinds of fish; sort them out,
discard the useless.

Do you understand?
You are like a scribe finding
new and old treasures.

© Ken Rookes 2020

Sunday, July 19, 2020

This Gospel Treasure

Haiku for earthen vessels

God’s grace brings us here;
though all should come against us
we will not lose heart.

Embarrassing things,
things that are best kept secret;
we put them aside.

Children of the truth,
rejoicing in the gospel
shining with its light.

Some refuse to see.
For them the light is fearful,
there is no knowledge.

This gospel treasure;
we hold it in the clay pots
of our earthly lives.

What treasure we hold,
what honour God has bestowed!
How shall we use it?

We are afflicted
but not crushed or despairing,
we bear Jesus’ life.

So death is at work
in us. But life, full and free
is at work in you.

Our outer being
falls away, our inner life
is renewed each day.

What can be seen, fades,
gives way to the eternal;
look upon these things.

© Ken Rookes 2020

Posted in response to the Narrative Lectionary for the 26th July 2020

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; ...