Mandates are much claimed by politicians,
who will make the most obscure policy
into a democratically driven demand;
when it suits them.
Jesus left only one mandate,
the new instruction,
a rule to live by;
it is no command of convenience.
Four letters. The word staggers
and stumbles, limping
through the centuries
having been often laid aside,
and subject to multiple levels of abuse
by the self assured and righteous.
Still it persists, emerging defiantly
to confront and confound
whenever the servant-man’s story is told
A mandate for disciples,
a call to love
coming from one who lays down his life.
One hardly needs to be reminded
of its uncomfortable implications.
“By this the world will know that you follow me,”
he says, having completed his servant task
with towel and basin of water.
By this! By his impractical command
all who come after him are expected to be known.
They stroke their chins in bewilderment,
while we, centuries on, echo their puzzlement:
couldn’t we just have a badge
or a tee-shirt or something?

©Ken Rookes


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