In the breaking of bread

In the breaking of bread
the Lord is known.
The human-shaped God
takes the hospitality of heaven in his hands
and distributes it to his friends.
“This is for you,” he says
looking into the eyes of the hungry.
“This food is me. Take me deep inside
your eyes, your head, your heart and your belly.
Take me into your dreams and your struggles,
your fears and your waking thoughts.
Take me deep into your cryings
and your rejoicings. Take me as you journey
towards the wonder of love
and the mystery of grace.
Find me deep within your sharings,
your yearnings, your laughings,
and the fullness of your life together.
See me with you in the loneliness of dark night
and when you close your eyes
against the blinding light.
See me; even when I disappear.
This is for you,”
he says.
© Ken Rookes

Emmaus journeying

We often walked, Cleopas and I
to Jerusalem,
and back home again.
We knew the road well,
the hills, the dusty gravel,
and the places where,
on a hot afternoon,
we would take our shaded rest.
Our conversation helped to shrink
the couple of hours, briskly walked.
On that afternoon we stumbled
through the seas of silence
to awkward islands of
repeated, unanswered questions;
our bewilderment taking shape
in clumsy words.
It could be busy enough,
that humble track,
so we were hardly surprised
when the stranger caught us up.
He gathered our questions
with each stride,
reshaping them unexpectedly
and tossing them before us
until the road ahead,
and the one upon which we had journeyed
these recent years
became clear, confident
and joyous.
The stranger is gone now,
yet his words remain.
The landscape upon which we journey
may be strange and unfamiliar,
but now we know where we are going. 

© Ken Rookes


Whose every breath

One day,
it is admittedly unlikely,
a clever archaeologist
may dig up Jesus’ bones.
This will cause much consternation,
the reports of an empty tomb being the one detail
about which the four gospel writers
are in complete agreement.
Still, the inability to locate a corpse
will never be adequate proof
of resurrection.

So, what is;
what might convince a sharp
and enquiring mind
that Jesus is truly alive?
Surely it is his disciples,
those in whom his spirit dwells;,
people who have taken deep inside themselves
his living words of generosity and forgiveness,
whose activities thoughts, attitudes, politics
and whose every breath testifies
to his undying love.

 © Ken Rookes 2013

All they could do

All they could do,
the gospel writers, and those
who crafted the stories before them
was to grope in wonder after some words.
Words to convey even a shining edge
of the full mystery. So they wrote of angels
shimmering with white, and an earthquake
that shook the very foundations of both earth
and heaven; and  of the surprise
of a disappearing man who could not be grasped
but who was strangely with them still.
Of the impossibly empty space that death
had once occupied. They told of a stone,
the removal of which would have required a forklift,
that had apparently been flicked away
by a divine finger. They wrote of unsurpassed joy
and of hope that had been conjured ex nihilo.
They told of embracings, of illuminating journeys
and intimate dinings, of unexpected recognitions
and equally bewildering disappearances.
Their stories included the elements of honest fear,
uncertainty, and disbelief;
as if to underline the wonder.
One who they had loved,
in whom the Divine One appeared to dwell,
and who, they all attested, had been killed;
was somehow present. Living. Decades on.
All they could do was grope
in the diminished darkness, and hope
to find some words.

© Ken Rookes

Fake blood Jesus

Jesus died a cruel and brutal death.
We all know that. Crucifixion,
as a means of execution,
was not chosen for its humane qualities
but for its effectiveness. An innocent man
dies a painful death. He was not alone.
Like people in many countries today,
no less innocent of the crimes
of which they have been accused;
arbitrary victims of policies of oppression,
or simply to increase the reign of fear
among the populace.

In processions and shopping centres,
at this time of the year we see them;
fake red blood dripping abundantly
from earnest male bodies.
Surrounded by like-minded supporters,
they plod towards their imagined Calvary,
or excitedly ascend  their particular version
of a wooden cross.
Exploiting their captive audience,
they issue their “Easter” invitation to choose
between heaven and hell.
Is this what Easter is all about?

I would abandon my faith in an instant
if I thought it were so.
If Easter means anything, it surely
declares that those who have been touched
by resurrection’s power will not rest
until the brutal causes of Jesus death;
injustice, cruelty, fear, and wilful ignorance,
have been eliminated by love.
Let resurrection’s generosity, grace and self-giving
reign, and let questions of heaven and hell
be consigned to the same heap of irrelevance
as all the fake blood. 

© Ken Rookes

Why do you strike me?

He spoke his truth in places
where all could hear,
without any concern for caution.
Recklessly trusting in the God he called Father,
his courage could not be questioned,
bringing its own accusation
to those who had compromised. The voice of integrity
receives an uncertain welcome.
Truth is an expendable annoyance,
a disturbing inconvenience
for those who worship at the altars
of power, wealth and fear;it will be dealt with.
Speaking openly and passionately
of love’s primacy, the man is unbending,
apparently unconcerned about the consequences
of his unauthorised utterances.
When finally Jesus is brought to account
he answers with the same disregard
for the opinions of his accusers.
A local walloper in the service
of the chief priests and Pharisees
feels compelled to strike him on the face
for his presumed disrespect.
Why do you strike me
when I have said nothing wrong?
he asks on his own behalf,and perhaps for the sake of the millions of innocent
speakers of truth
in the centuries before and since.
Hold firm, Jesus,
there is worse to come. 

© Ken Rookes 2013