Unproductive vines

Haiku of failed privilege

A model vineyard.
Fertile, cleared of stones, wine-vat;
all ready to go.

Planted with choice vines,
the vintage is guaranteed!
But the grapes are wild.

What more, questions God,
could I have done for my vineyard?
I shall destroy it!

It shall be devoured,
broken down, trampled; given
over to the thorns.

An allegory!
The vineyard is Israel
and Judah’s people.

God looked for justice
from his privileged people;
saw only bloodshed

Seeking righteousness,
God heard only anguished cries
from those cast aside.

We, who are priv’leged,
do we build justice, truth, hope;
are we serving love?

© Ken Rookes 2022

Sticking with the Old Testament, but poetic reflections on the RCL Gospel reading can be found in the archives for 2013, 2016, and 2019. For the 2019 reflection, click here.

God’s disappointment

Haiku of dodgy religion

Isaiah’s vision
reveals God’s disappointment,
his people’s failure.

Rams, lambs goats and bulls,
sacrificed to appease God,
won’t save your bacon.

With hands dripping blood
you come to God, expecting
that God will hear you?

Your good religion
means nothing while injustice
and evil abound.

I take no pleasure
in offerings, festivals;
bring me a clean heart.

Cease your wicked ways,
cleanse yourselves of all evil,
do good, seek justice.

Its never too late,
the invitation is there;
come to me, says God.

Your sins are scarlet,
they shall be like snow; crimson,
they’ll become like wool..

I would not judge you;
be willing, obedient,
and all will be well.

© Ken Rookes 2022

Sticking with the Old Testament for now.

For response to the Revised Common Lectionary Gospel reading look at posts for the same time the year in 2019, 2013, 2016. For the 2019 poem, click here.


Haiku of failure

Unrequited love;
God’s for Israel. Little
wonder that God weeps.

Prophet Hosea
brings the word of God’s anguish
along with judgement.

They went their own way,
ignoring the call of God
for justice and truth.

Profound love imaged
in the tender embracing
of parent with child.

This is a strange God,
feeling rejection; needy
and so capricious!

The anger; is it
because of faithlessness, or
the failure to love?

God’s recoiling heart,
refusing harsh punishment;
the power of love.

Judgement is forestalled!
The God of second-chances,
the God we worship.

Return, O people!
God who balances justice
with mercy awaits.

© Ken Rookes 2022

This poem is a response to the Old Testament passage for the Revised Common Lectionary for this coming Sunday. For a poetic response to the Gospel reading Look in the archives for July / August 2013, 2016, and 2019. For 2019 click here.

All in the family

Haiku of embarrassing nomenclature

Instructed by God,
prophet Hosea marries
prostitute Gomer.

It happens. A man
becomes smitten. Takes a chance;
It might just work out.

Marriage and message
jumbled in the prophet’s life.
Call that commitment!

Filled with sin, the land
has played whore with other gods.
A faithless marriage.

Prophet and harlot
have a child. Name him “Jezreel,”
place of death and blood.

A daughter this time.
Call her “Not Pitied.” Israel
is not forgiven.

A third child, a son.
Make his name “Not my people.”
I am not your God.

Yet, in the end, grace;
hope. They will be called “Children
of the living God.”

© Ken Rookes 2022

For poetic reflections on the gospel reading, look in the archives for July in 2029, 2026, or 2013. For 2019 click here

Fruits of iniquity

Haiku of shame

Amos; more judgement.
The fruits of iniquity
reveal rottenness.

The rich trample the needy,
the poor are ruined.

who say they love the scriptures
ignore these verses.

Wait ‘til Sunday’s past
to get back to the business
of cheating the poor.

Buying the needy
for the price of sandals, and
the poor for silver.

Justify your greed;
decry the poor as lazy,
unblessed, unworthy.

Convince the needy
that you know what’s best for them;
they might vote for you!

The sky will be dark
your songs will become laments
of bitter sorrow

A famine descends,
not of bread or of water,
but of hearing God.

It is upon us,
this famine of God’s good word.
Just a few will hear.

© Ken Rookes 2022

This is the RCL Old Testament passage for this coming Sunday. For a poetic response to the the gospel passage look in the archives for he same time of the year in 2019, 2016, and 2013, or for the 2019 poem click here.

Plumb lines

Haiku for measuring up.

Plumb lines, measuring
that which is true, right and straight.
Ancient, effective.

The wall is built true.
The Lord holds a plumb line. What
do you see, Amos?

Is Israel true,
how does the land measure up
to its high calling?

They are found wanting,
Israel, chosen of God.
Judgement is severe.

Those who have received,
much is expected of them.
They, too, will be judged.

The question disturbs.
How well do I measure up,
how faithful am I?

The response:

Go away, Amos!
Your words are not welcome here.
Prophesy elsewhere!

Amos answers:

I am no prophet,
never asked for the job. God
has done this to me!

You say: Go away!
But yours are not words from God,
and you stand condemned.

© Ken Rookes 2022

This is the RCL Old Testament passage for this coming Sunday. For a poetic response to the the gospel passage look in the archives for he same time of the year in 2019, 2016, and 2013, or for the 2019 poem click here.

The Good Samaritan Rap – an excellent resource for children’s ministry, can be found here

An unnamed slave girl

Haiku of restoration

An unnamed slave girl
speaks a word of healing hope
in a foreign land.

In Samaria,
a prophet dwells. He could cure
the master’s disease.

General Naaman
gathers his entourage, heads
south, to Israel.

With his king’s letter
he fronts Israel’s monarch,
who totally freaks.

Am I God, he asks,
to cure leprosy? Worried
he’s in for a fight.

Elisha’s informed;
sends word to the king. No probs;
send him here to me.

This man from afar
will learn that there’s a prophet
here in Israel.

Sends a message. Wash
in the Jordan, seven times;
you will be made clean.

He didn’t even
come out to see me! Naaman
is somewhat angry.

We’ve got good rivers
back at home! Take it easy,
his servants respond.

It’s a simple thing.
He told you: Wash, and be clean.
Why not have a go?

He is persuaded.
Seven times in the Jordan,
his flesh is restored.

© Ken Rookes 2022

I’m spending time in the Old Testament. For responses to the gospel, check out the archives for the same time of the year in 2019, 2016, or 2013. Or for the poem for 2019, (published July 1st) click here.

Prayer for Refugee Week

God, we pray for refugees.

We thank you for their courage, their determination,

and the hope that sustains them.

We thank you for those who make them welcome,

who help them to begin the process of healing

God, we pray for the men and women and children

who are being held in detention around Australia, and offshore,

may they know that they are not forgotten.

We pray too for those living among us

uncertain of their status, and still fearful for their future.

We pray that they might find certainty, welcome and renewed hope.

We thank you for the gifts that they offer to our country,

for their cleverness, their commitment and the contributions

that they bring to enrich our communities.

We thank you for their generosity, their gratitude and their forgiveness.

For the refugees we fail to welcome

we pray that they may find homes of safety and acceptance

among people who will embrace and value them.

For our leaders we pray wisdom, compassion,

and a sense of justice that will guide them

to do what is right and honourable

for the refugees who arrive at out shores.

May they provide humane leadership

among the nations of the world

as the number of refugees continues to rise.

And we pray for ourselves, followers of a man called Jesus

who came to be for us, light, grace and truth.

Create in us a neighbourliness that expresses itself in hospitality,

generosity, justice and care.

May we be truth-seekers, truth-tellers.

and agents of healing.

In Jesus name, we pray,


Ken Rookes 2022